Things learned, observed in Pacific high school winter sports season Week 5.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer remembers why he abhors Korean winters:

-- Alex Banks. Nile C. Kinnick wrestling. Takes down reigning Far East Tournament Outstanding Wrestler Chad Wilder of Zama American, and reigning 168-pound Far East champion Jeff Koo twice in less than a week. Beast. That’s the only word that sums it up.

-- That DODDS dual-meet tournament on Saturday, I mean what in the name of Halloween Comes Early is going on out there?

-- Let’s start with the 215-pound weight class, in which Zama’s Ian Pope beat Kinnick’s Daniel Costello who beat Yokota’s Jake Jackson who beat Pope.

-- Or how about when Jordan Cotts, subbing for starter Josh Collier, pinned Yokota’s Jesse Hogan at heavyweight to clinch what’s believed to be the Trojans’ first dual-meet victory over the Panthers since the 1980s, 36-28.

-- Or Kinnick’s Ian O’Brien knocking off 180-pound gold-medal contender Mitchell Harrison of Zama.

-- Well, that was quite the reality check for DODDS Japan outlying schools at Sasebo, Iwakuni and Misawa. Yokota and Kinnick scored weekend sweeps of Matthew C. Perry’s and E.J. King’s boys and girls, while Robert D. Edgren’s boys and girls salvaged splits with Zama in their weekend tilts.

-- Yokota’s boys certainly did their winning the hard way. The Panthers trailed by 23 at halftime of Friday’s game and by 14 in Saturday’s, but came back in the fourth quarter each time to claim victory, 56-50 on Friday and 43-31 on Saturday. Morgan Breazell led the way for Yokota with 16 points in each game.

-- I’m sure there were many sighs of relief among DODDS Korea basketball and wrestling teams, who finally got a chance to step on the courts and mats to play after losing last weekend to snow. Friday morning dawned to freezing rain at Yongsan Garrison and it remained dark and gloomy all day, but it warmed enough that the sleet turned to rain and Osan American was able to travel to Yongsan to play at Seoul American.

-- Not too much drama, though, as the Falcons overwhelmed the Cougars, 70-31 in the boys game after the Falcons outscored Osan 15-0 in one stretch, and 46-12 in the girls game.

-- It was the guards, specifically Liz Gleaves and Jordan Elliott, who led the way for the Falcons girls when they won Far East two years running not so long ago. Opponents better get a body on Jasmine Thomas, a small forward who averaged 18.5 points in two games this weekend, including the Falcons’ 56-47 come-from-behind win on Saturday over Soongeuin, a Korean high school.

-- “This is what we need every game,” Falcons girls coach Jesse J. Smith said. Truer words, etc., for Seoul American has long been known for having great teams unbeaten, but untested against mostly outmanned Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Five-Cities Division teams. (Well, OK, they lost the title last year for the first time in 20 years to Daegu High, but you get the idea).

-- Osan’s girls may not score much, but when they do, it’s usually from behind the arc. Of the Cougars’ 17 points in their first two games, 15 came from three-point range, including all 12 in Friday’s loss to the Falcons.

-- Speaking of not much drama, looks like another season that Seoul American’s wrestling team will have its way with its DODDS Korea Division II counterparts, Osan and Daegu.  The Falcons crushed the Cougars 34-19 and routed Daegu 53-5.

-- To be fair, it was a Daegu team that had several starters absent, either due to injury, early holiday ski breaks, church activity and ineligibility. Thus, perhaps the Warriors will give the Falcons a better battle next time they wrestle. Not to mention Osan, which pounded Daegu 43-6.

-- Morgan Baek, 141 pounds, Daegu’s lone spotlight, scored two pins on Saturday. So did Alan Albright, Jacob Collins and Minsu Kim of Osan.

-- Kim, nominally a 158-pounder, wrestled up at 180 in his bout with Seoul American’s Aaron Park, and despite being outweight by a bunch, Kim held off Park for a 2-1 decision. One of the best bouts of the day.

-- Joe Durham of Seoul American, at 215 pounds, is clearly the best wrestler on the peninsula. Given the merry-go-round at 215 that took place at Kinnick, we could see a re-enactment of World War 215 that we saw at Far East two years ago.

-- You never know who you’re going to run into whenever you’re out and about in Korea. Stripes 2008-09 girls Athlete of the Year Celine Baldevia and current Osan sophomore volleyball player Taylor Byrom in the main fitness center working out with the base volleyball team. Four years removed from high school, Baldevia looks like she’s not lost a step.

-- How many times do you encounter the great-great-great grandson of a war hero? Henry Harley Arnold V, Seoul American boys basketball center. Yep, that Henry Arnold, the one they called “Hap” during World War II, when the future first Air Force five-star general commanded the Army Air Forces to victories in the Pacific and Germany.

-- Be safe this holiday season!

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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.)


Sept 28:Dave Ornauer is back with the latest on the Pacific sports scene.

May 22:Yokota has dominated in first year at D-II spring championsihps.

May 8: Dave Ornauer highlights a few athletes who are participating in the Kanto Plains track and field finals Saturday.