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Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports Weeks 5.0, 6.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer rues the evil spirits that bestowed a double sinusitis-bronchitis whammy on him:

“That’s why they play ’em on the field,” longtime Yokota soccer coach Matt Whipple is fond of saying.

That expression was no more apropos than on Monday, when Derek Hoopes netted two goals, each assisted by Ray Hernandez, in the Panthers’ 2-0 shutout of Zama American, which has entered a sort of tailspin since starting the season 9-0; the Trojans have lost three straight since.

Didn’t see that coming. Nor did I see Zama’s 9-0 start. Nor did I see the Trojans winning the DODDS Japan soccer tournament last Saturday, punctuated by E.J. King’s 2-1 win over Zama in the tournament finale.

I guess you could say that sports is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. And those DODDS Japan boys and girls tournaments offered proof positive of just that.

Zama’s first-year coach Marc Norton knew exactly what could happen if the team didn’t bring its A-game every game. “Every game feels like a fight, no matter who we play,” he said. “It still feels like anyone can beat us if we don’t play well.”

All that came after the Trojans, led by strikers Ben Cook, Derek Stevenson and JoJo Byrnes, shocked the tournament by first downing host Nile C. Kinnick 2-0 on Thursday, then stunning reigning Far East Division II champion Matthew C. Perry 4-1 on Friday.

And who can say they saw Robert D. Edgren’s boys, after falling behind Yokota 3-0 at half, almost make their way all the way back with two second-half goals in a 3-2 loss to the Panthers?

Or how about Ricky Salinas of E.J. King enjoying what one would call a “stopper’s dream?” Hobbled by a leg injury, coach Mark Constantine moved the defender to wing, where he gathered a crossing pass and buried it for his first goal of the season.

The girls tournament, meanwhile, was won by Kinnick, and I think most folks saw that coming. They’re 9-0-1 at this point, with sharpshooter Kaile Johnson netting 21 goals and newcomer Athena Peerson seven to go with four assists. The Red Devils look poised to make deep runs at both the DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain regular-season titles, as they did last season.

What the red and white didn’t count on, I’m sure, was what happened in the finale – a 1-1 draw vs. Yokota, which is something of a surprise itself.

The Panthers’ defense, led by seniors Meaghan Mitchell, Katelyn Sult and Emily Beemsterboer and freshman keeper Sarah Cronin, have played virtual lockdown on opponents, recording six shutouts and helping Yokota rack up a 17-3 goal differential in going 6-1-2 this season.

And few, perhaps, saw Edgren’s girls coming. They won two matches in the tournament, including a 1-0 upset of reigning D-II champion Perry.

***

It finished just barely before daylight vanished around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, but the first official meet came off on Kadena High School’s newly minted (and very rare) seven-lane track.

The first Island Wide Track Meet featured the usual gaggle of high schoolers from Kadena, Kubasaki, Zion Christian Academy and Okinawa Christian School International, but also about 50 adult athletes from the various military services on island, comprising more than 100 entries, according to meet organizers.

High school athletes dominated for the most part, except for four events, the shot put and discus won by former Air Force Academy thrower Michael Kemp, the high jump by Brandon Jones and the 110 hurdles by Ronald Hill.

Gorgeous, unseasonably warm skies greeted the meet. Scores of volunteers from various units on Kadena handled everything from entries to ensuring athletes had plenty of water, bananas and oranges to stay hydrated and carbed. Command was out in force, including Kadena’s 18th Wing commander Brig. Gen. Matthew H. Molloy and his command Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, presiding over the ceremonies.

There were some technical glitches with the electronic timing; for example, several starting gun misfires during the girls 100 preliminaries forced a handful of heats to be run over again. And for the second straight meet, marshals had to resort to hand timing for the last few events. But Michael Thompson, DODDS Okinawa’s new district superintendent who served as timer for scores of meets in his days in Germany, and a pair of volunteers struggled through it, getting the meet recorded just as daylight ran out.

So far, we’ve had four meets, two each in the Okinawa Activities Council and in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools. Guam’s season should start soon.

Word came in this afternoon that Pyongtaek City Stadium has been rented for two DODDS Korea meets. One will be hosted by Seoul American on April 6 and Osan American two weeks later. No hurdles or jump pits. Could be that Korea’s DODDS track jumpers and hurdlers will have no competitive meets before Far East. That should be remedied next year when Humphreys American School opens; Camp Humphreys should have a full eight-lane 400-meter track with all facilities needed to run a full meet.

And we had a number of athletes qualify for the Far East meet scheduled May 21-22 at Yokota. Here’s the rundown, for both Okinawa and Kanto:

100Boys, Rahman Farnell, Kubasaki; Stanley Speed, Yokota; Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki. Girls, Janika Caines, Kadena; Val James, Kinnick.
200Boys, Farnell. Girls, Jade Cummings, Zion; Caines; James.
400Boys, Keishi Nambara, OCSI; Justin Clemenson, Kubasaki; Quinton Holden, Kinnick. Girls, Josie Daffin, Kubasaki; James; Carydaliz Fontanez, Kinnick.
800 Girls, Fontanez.
1,600Boys, Robert Beard, Kinnick. Girls, Jessica Ircink, Kubasaki; Allie Reichenberg, Kubasaki; Ana Hernandez, Kadena; Fontanez; Abigail Wall, Yokota.
3,200Boys, Beard; James Kennedy, Yokota; Daniel Galvin, Yokota; Jarrell Hibler, Zama. Girls, Hernandez; Rachel Burchill, Kadena; Fontanez; Wall; Kate Greathouse, Kinnick.
100 hurdles (girls) – Danielle Balfour, Kubasaki; Josie Mitchell, Kubasaki; Jayla Bradley, Kinnick.
110 hurdles (boys) – Mitchell Harrison, Zama.
300 hurdles – Boys, Harrison; Derrick Taylor, Kadena. Girls, Pashence Turner, Kadena; June Garrett, Zion; Josie Mitchell, Kubasaki.
400 relayBoys, Kubasaki A (Justin Willis, Brandon Floyd, Daniel Mora, Rahman); Kadena A (Simeyon Gillespi, De’Corrio Moore, Diante Lora, Taylor); Yokota A (Donavan Ball, Tyler Parson, Cody Trask, Speed); Kinnick A (Marcus Boatwright, Akisch Davis, Latendre Paylor, Tarrick Mitchell). Girls, Kadena A (Turner, Caines, Jasmine Rhodes, Apryl-Len Cabase); Kinnick A (De’Asia Brown, Shakita Samuels, Aya Stewart, Rhyssa Hizon).
1,600 relayGirls, Kinnick A (Brown, James, Fontanez, Hizon).
3,200 relayBoys, Kadena A (Hunter Ficence, Andrew Kilkenny, Carlos Gutierrez, Leslie Williams, Joshua Ward); Zion A (Daril Anthes, Christian Rabenitas, Rejay Maruo, Shion Wakita); Yokota A (Bryan Riley, Kennedy, Galvin, George Wiest); Kinnick A (Beard, Bryer Palmer, Joshua Burger, Marcel Holden).Girls, Kadena A (Burchill, Samantha Taylor, Angelita Main, Sylvia Vause); Zion A (Mauro Coco, Danielle Guerra, June Garrett, Alexus Johnson); Kubasaki A (Micaela Amaya, Sarah O’Neill, Miranda Gail Anderson, Sam Fugate); Kinnick A (Angela Holloman, Lisa Williford, Fontanez, Shannon McAllister); Christian Academy Japan A (Runa Suzuki, Naomi Nethercott, Hannah Nanri, Misaki Nakagawa).
High jumpGirls, Keila Welky, Kubasaki; Rhodes.
Long jumpBoys, Ian Rosete, Zama; Quinton Holden. Girls, Brown; Hizon; Erika Bongo, Kadena.
Shot putBoys, Clemenson; Daniel Costello, Kinnick. Girls, Brea Garrett, Kadena; Jazmyn Sharper, Kadena.
DiscusBoys, Clemenson; Kane Wilton, Kubasaki; Jesse Hogan, Yokota; Anthony Sherman, Kadena; Josiah Allen, Kubasaki.

We’ll keep this updated throughout the season.

***

Prom problems – DODDS Korea’s baseball and softball seasons did get a jump start due to a conflict Daegu faces May 11, which is prom time in Warrior country. Athletics director Ken Walter says he requested that the scheduled “friendly” games last Saturday be counted a official league games, and Seoul American agreed. Falcons baseball won 20-5 in three innings and softball won 16-7 in four.
Diamond momentum – Teams entering this weekend’s DODDS Japan baseball and softball tournaments with momentum on their side include E.J. King’s girls, who swept four games in a weekend series at Perry; Samurai baseball, which did likewise against Edgren and E.J. King; and even Edgren baseball got into the act, getting a bases-loaded double from Tristan Jefferson for a 5-1 win over E.J. King. But the teams to watch likely are Kinnick softball and Yokota baseball. The Red Devils are unbeaten in eight games, and  given the results of last week’s twin-bill sweep of Zama, are likely to give big problems to the top two teams in last year’s D-I tournament, Kadena and Kubasaki. Yokota baseball has lost twice to Kubasaki but has won everything else and began the DODDS tournament in style as Nate Sax no-hit Zama 14-0.
The $64,000 question – Who has enough in the tank to stop Yokota and Kinnick in the DODDS baseball and softball tournaments?

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Ornauer on AFN

 

Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)

 

Nov. 7: Dave Ornauer talks about Far East championship week, stepping off with cross country.

Oct. 24: Dave Ornauer talks about cross country, football and other Pacific sporting events occurring this weekend.

Oct. 17: The Nile C. Kinnick football team can ensure its fans have good seats for the Far East Division I final with a win over Kadena on Saturday.