Published: February 28, 2010
This courtesy of Jason Sheedy on Guam, former three-year varsity Zama American volleyball player Emily Carpenter is now on the roster at Canisius, an NCAA Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school in Buffalo, N.Y.
Published: February 26, 2010
With the Japan Junior Olympic age-group championships in their home pool just two weeks away, the International Buccaneers boys relay team has sounded the first warning shot.
Christian Brown, Bruno Ortiz, Ryutaro Kamiya and Kelly Moodie set a Japan national high school record in the 200 freestyle relay, posting a time of 1 minute, 32.43 seconds at the international swim complex at Tatsumi, on Tokyo's east side. Some 148 clubs and 2,754 swimmers attended the event.
That same foursome also broke the Tokyo record in the 200 medley relay by 4.1 seconds.
The Buccaneers, a perennial power in the Japan JO's, will host among other teams the combined Kanto Plain military youth team as well as the Okinawa Dolphins Swim Team on March 13-14 at the St. Mary's International School's 25-meter pool. It will be the last major athletics event the pool ever hosts; it's being torn down to make room for a new St. Mary's athletic complex to open next fall.
For more on the Bucs and the upcoming JOs, go to http://www2.gol.com/users/bucsdave.
Published: February 25, 2010
... as we close the book on the 2009-2010 basketball season and turn our attention to spring sports ...
1, Kadena, Okinawa. May be the best team coach Robert Bliss has ever had.
2, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan. May be the best team coach Dan Robinson has ever had.
3, St. Mary's International, Japan. What an inspired run to honor late coach Fred Sava; just fell three points short.
4, Daegu American, South Korea. Warriors came up just short in first finals appearance in 11 years.
5, Simon Sanchez, Guam. Two final four berths in two years.
6, Robert D. Edgren, Japan.
7, Okkodo, Guam. Three-year-old school reaches first Final Four.
8, Seoul Foreign.
9, Guam High.
10, Osan American, South Korea.
1, Seoul American. Merely swapped places with Faith, beating Vanguards by same score in titlte game
2, Faith Academy, Philippines. First time losing in a Class AA title game.
3, Daegu American, South Korea. Spirit of the late Lynnette Grant alive and well.
4, Kadena, Okinawa. Great run by a young squad that shows promise for next season.
5, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan. Third Class A runner-up finish in four years.
6, Robert D. Edgren, Japan.
7, Notre Dame, Guam.
8, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan.
9, American School In Japan.
10, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan.
Published: February 25, 2010
In-studio visit on Feb. 18 with the one and only D.J. Awesome.
Published: February 24, 2010
By Friday at the earliest, by early next week at the latest, we should know precisely where and when the new season-ending Far East baseball, softball and track and field events will take place. DODEA Pacific officials say they want to ensure fields, billeting and event directors are all in place. "We're getting close," DODEA Pacific's Far East Athletics Coordinator Don Hobbs told me in an e-mail Wednesday evening.
Published: February 21, 2010
-- So, just what constitutes a tournament Most Valuable Player? Outstanding statistics? Where a team finishes in the standings? Or simply that player's value to his or her team?
-- That question invariably comes up after any Far East Tournament in any sport comes to an end. Just as with All-Tournament selections, there is no truly scientific method for selecting an MVP.
-- Major League Baseball is frought with examples of just that. Just as easily as you might see an MVP come from a team that wins a World Series, there are the Andre Dawsons of the world, selected MVP in 1987 for a last-place Chicago Cubs team.
-- So, too, have I seen tournaments where the organizers insist that the MVP come from the winning team, and on the opposite side of the coin I've seen players named MVP from a fifth-place team (Melissa Calkins, Trinity Christian School, 1994) and a seventh-place team (Brianna Carroll, Pusan American, 2004), Far East Girls Class A Basketball Tournament.
-- By definition, MVP means player most valuable to his or her team. That doesn't always mean the highest finish, the best statistics or any other thing tangible; it means value quantified and qualified in any number of ways tangible and intangible. It could mean something as low-visibility as one who keeps the team's chemistry, such as a David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox or a Darlene Seeley of Yokota in 2004-05. And yes, it can also mean the player who's numbers stand out on a team that wins a championship. Or anywhere inbetween.
-- I say by no means should an MVP be limited to a player whose team wins a championship.
-- At the Class AA level, while Liz Gleaves clearly is the fuel that drives Seoul American's girls' engine, who on Kadena's boys truly stands out? Such great balance on that team. Taiyo Robertson's MVP selection is very much merited, but if you had gone with Jason Sumpter, with his deadly baseline accuracy and tenacious rebounding, or Kevin Paranal, with his tireless, ferocious work in the paint, you'd not have gone wrong.
-- At the Class A level, Hannah Arbour of International School of the Sacred Heart and Antoine Feagin of Daegu American were true standouts on runner-up teams. If you gave it to the champion teams, who truly stood out? Alexzandria Averette was clearly the last piece of the puzzle for Daegu American's girls, but you can't overlook the overall contributions of players like Jamie Cheniault or Kristina Bergman. And who on Morrison's boys do you give it to? Between Stephen Hovater (prior two-time MVP), Joel McKinlay, Sean Robinson and Matthew Heading, you'd have to cut the trophy into fours.
-- Ahh, but the argument could last forever and we'd still end up at the same crossroad. There is not, never was and probably never will be a scientific way to select.
Published: February 21, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer feels as if he crawled out of hibernation at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and affixes his soccer stag straps to his belt to signal the beginning of the "only" season:
-- So, what constitutes an All-Tournament basketball player? Coaches' votes? Where their team finished in the tournament standings? Value to their team? Outstanding numbers?
-- Those were the questions being asked, among many others, on Saturday evening as the Far East High School Class AA Tournaments wound down and the All-Tournament selections and Most Valuable/Outstanding Player picks were announced.
-- While players from all eight boys and all nine girls Class A teams were fair game, the Class AA Tournament fields were somewhat limited, to players from the top 10 boys teams, 18 selections in all, and the top 11 girls teams, 15 players in all.
-- Which, naturally, meant some players whose teams didn't do all that well but who distinguished themselves nonetheless were overlooked.
-- Most noteably (the harsher critics used terms such as egregiously), Erika Ettl of Yokota's girls.
-- OK, so Ettl's team didn't even place among the top 12. That said, Ettl and Kubasaki's Gabby Falco led the tournament in scoring by a country mile.
-- While Falco helped lead Kubasaki to 11th place and did get an All-Tournament selection, without Ettl, the Panthers would likely have been mercy-ruled in every game they played.
-- Taking nothing away from the rest of the team, just stating fact. I didn't have a vote, but if I had, Ettl would have gotten mine.
-- Reminds me of the 2001 Boys Class AA Tournament on Guam, when Gabe Lombard of St. John's was inexpicably left off the All-Tournament team despite averaging double figures in points, assists and steals. And the 1997 Far East Girls Volleyball Tournament, when Lara Warn of Zama American was criminally overlooked despite leading the tournament in block points -- 11 alone coming against Faith Academy in the semifinals. And Zama WON the tournament.
-- Other players from last week's Class AA Tournaments who deserved at least a look would have included Earvin Jose of Father Duenas Memorial, Gary Calara of John F. Kennedy, Ryan Nangauta of Southern, Jonathan Neyland of Zama American and Tommy Akinbayo of Seoul American among boys, and besides Ettl, Anika Taylor of Christian Academy Japan (a 2009 All-Tournament pick), Christi Mendiola of Guam High, April Schacher of John F. Kennedy, Paige Surber of Southern.
-- So, just how best to determine an All-Tournament team?
-- While there's no scientifically accurate process, the best selections I've ever seen came out of volleyball tournaments hosted in 1982 and 1983 by Kubasaki and 1989 by Zama American, which put together committees of people not directly attached to the tournament or any of its teams, but objective observers who either played or coached or officiated the game in the past.
-- They held four meetings during the week, the first after pool/division play ended on Wednesday. There, they pooled players whom they felt merited consideration from ALL teams, knowing it would get whittled down at meetings they would hold Thursday and Friday. The committee's final meeting took place just before Saturday's title match, at which they would finalise the list, regardless of where the players' teams finished. If something significant occured in the final that merited consideration to alter the list, the committee would meet again just after the final; otherwise, the list would stand.
-- The WORST selection process I ever witnessed occured in that same 1997 volleyball tournament. Organizers put the responsibility in the laps of the tournament referees -- perhaps the last group of people you want doing such an evaluation. Former USA Volleyball Pacific metro commissioner Gene Newman said it to me best more than once: Referees are there to officiate games, not evaluate the best players.
-- That group of referees held exactly one meeting. Right after the title match. And they based their selections on who they saw in matches played THAT DAY. Which meant only players from the top 10 teams would be considered, and only for their play on THAT DAY. Easy to see why Warn's consistent blocking would be overlooked, yes?
-- Fault absolutely lay not with the referees themselves, but with the fact that they were given a responsibility they should not have been given in the first place.
Published: February 20, 2010
Kadena 32, St. Mary's International 30. The spirit of Sava carried the Titans right to the end, only to come up one point short. Taiyo Robertson, tournament MVP, hit 3-of-4 foul shots in the final period to keep the Titans at arm's length. Ninth title for Kadena, matching Kubasaki for the most in Class AA Tournament history. First loss for St. Mary's in four tries at Center Court.
Published: February 20, 2010
Seoul American 50, Faith Academy 47. Same score as last year, different winner. Fourth time the charm for the Falcons, who've lost two finals in the last three years before finally rising back to the title peak they last ascended in 2006. Fourth Class AA title for Seoul American in its history, coupled with 1984, 2005 and 2006. First time Faith has lost a Class AA title game in six appearances; Vanguards were chasing their 10th Far East title overall, having won five Class AA and four Class A titles.
Published: February 20, 2010
This sent from the guided missile frigate USS Curts, on station in the Indian Ocean, from the proud father of Mikey O'Brien, a four-year Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils boys basketball player who fights a daily battle of another short, one which really puts life into perspective:
"My son is a warrior in a battle that many folks do not know of. I am not referring to the basketball court but of his health condition. My son lives with diabetes and has done so since April 16, 2004, when he was admitted into the intensive care ward for his initial diagnosis.
"I write this to you so that you will know how proud I am of my son. He has never once used diabetes as an excuse to not work hard or train hard, even on bad days when he is not well. He monitors his blood sugar through out the day, during practice and games, and must do so to remain healthy. He is an example to all children living with diabetes that they, too, can be active in sports with good self management. Because of professional athletes like Adam Morrison and Jay Cutler, my son sees others living and managing their diabetes. Perhaps a young girl or boy out there will see my son doing the same and have a bit of inspiration.
"He has no idea that I have written this and would most probably not be very happy with me. But I am now on the USS CURTS in the Indian Ocean and have missed his final game as a Kinnick High School basketball player, and wanted to share my story of pride and love that I have for my son."
Published: February 20, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer stumbles and bumbles toward the finish of yet another great week of Far East Tournaments:
-- Michelle Chandler's prescience proved perfect, re: the addition of Alexzandria Averette to the Daegu American girls basketball lineup. The Warriors coach said prior to the Far East Girls Class A Tournament that Averette, a recent transfer from Ohio, was "the last addition we needed." As a result, Daegu has its second Class A title in four years, thanks to a 42-40 triumph over International School of the Sacred Heart.
-- Perhaps there is something to the ghosts of titles past. I'm more than certain that old No. 23, the dearly departed Lynnette Grant, had to somehow make her way into the Kelly Fitness & Sports Center, smiling on her successors, and simply said, "Amazing." Jamie Cheniault, in particular, was one whom Chandler said looked up to Grant and viewed herself as Lynnette's little sister.
-- Now halfway to a Class A title school-year sweep, Daegu only needs now to win Far East soccer -- which it hosts May 17-20 -- and softball, May 17-19 at a site to be determined (probably Kadena) to complete a Warriors sweep dream.
-- As sweet as things must be in Area IV country, coming so close and yet so far for the third time in the last four years had to be a terrible disappointment for ISSH, coach Kurt Rose and star senior Hannah Arbour. The latter graduates soon, and Rose is rumoured to have coached his final game for the Symbas, capping an eight-year run including a 2004 Class A title and the three runner-up finishes.
-- Confidential to Kurt Rose: If in fact this is it, may I thank you for the memories of games I've seen you coach. You're a great mentor, a classy guy and a good friend. Coffee's on me.
-- Confidential to Hannah Arbour: Truly blessed I am to have watched both you and Leyna play sports for ISSH. And has it really been that long since I watched Leyna as a freshman swat that game-tying three-point attempt by Bianca Cruz of E.J. King in that memorable DODEA vs. international schools All-Star game in Pusan?
-- Haa Misawa been good to Morrison or what? The flight home for the Mustangs of Morrison Christian Academy definitely was a sweet one. Morrison captured its fourth Boys Class A Tournament title and second in a row after downing Daegu American 74-64 in Friday's championship at Robert D. Edgren's Eagles' Nest.
-- And as has been the case all week long, the Warriors had no answer for Morrison's punishing inside game, with former two-time MVP Stephen Hovater and campadres Matt Heading, Joel McKinlay and Sean Robinson (son of coach Dan Robinson) taking it to foes repeatedly.
-- Might this be the best team the elder Robinson has coached? Quite possibly, he says.
-- If it's happened before, then it's not happened in quite awhile ... the MVPs for both the Boys and Girls Class A Tournaments came from the runner-up teams, Antoine "Flash" Feagin from Daegu's boys and Arbour.
-- Should the MVP come from the championship team? Some argue that it should be the case, for they've been instrumental in leading their team to a tournament's ultimate prize. I argue that the MVP should be just as the award is defined: Player most VALUABLE to his or her team; thus, I concur with Flash's and Hannah's selections.
-- To Teams Eagle-Eye and Warrior: THANK YOU SO MUCH! You were superstars. You made me totally, utterly proud to call you student-journalists. :)
-- If anybody needs to gauge just how much progress Kadena girls basketball has made since opening the season by losing nine games, Friday's semifinal game against Seoul American provided just that. Thanks to a pair of foul shots by the Falcons' Destinee Harrison, Seoul American, heavily favored to reach Saturday's final, barely hung on to edge the Panthers 67-66.
-- Seoul American was 21-6 entering the tournament and Kadena 6-19; most of each team's defeats came against women's teams, some of whom sported players who played college ball. Kadena's record, especially, was very misleading in that in addition to the losses against women, they played teams in the Top 10 among Okinawa Prefecture's 64 high school teams.
-- About the foul call that sent Harrison to the foul line with less than a tick left on the clock? Didn't see the play. Didn't see the call. Would love to see a video clip of it. Until that happens, I can only say one man's foul is another man's incidental contact.
-- Which again just shows to go ya, sports writers, tournament directors, coaches and referees do jobs in which they please 46 percent of the people 50 percent of the time. I'll leave it to others to analyse those numbers.
-- In any case, Seoul American did reach the title game, as predicted, and against Faith Academy, going for title No. 10 in 2010, 10 years after the Lady V's completed their famed Drive For Five, consecutive Far East Tournament titles in 1996 (Class A in Pusan) and 1997-2000 (Class AA at Yokosuka twice and Misawa and Kadena once each).
-- The amazing part of that Drive For Five was ... Faith beat the host team to win the Class AA titles in 1998 at Kadena, 1999 at Nile C. Kinnick and 2000 at Robert D. Edgren.
-- From Julie Stauffer, Jaime Cutts and Candy "Sweetness" Tan-Chi to Kelly Hardeman, Sarah Parshall and Grace Fern. The more things change for Faith, the more they stay the same.
-- Speaking of teams that have overcome adversity, St. Mary's International finds itself back in Boys Class AA Tournament title clash, less than six weeks after the Titans' former mentor Fred Sava lost his battle with brain cancer. "Playing hard for Coach Sava," the T-shirts say. And that's exactly what they've done all week, even in surviving a tenacious Simon Sanchez team 30-28 in Friday's semifinals.
-- "Win it for the man. That's all we want is to win it for the man." Those words from Amritpal Warraich, who underwent a rather severe shooting slump earlier this week, but broke out for a team-leading 14 points, including the game-winning basket with 1 second left, against the Sharks.
-- And you think St. Mary's won't keep at least one hand in the face of one Taiyo Robertson? The senior hot-shot guard lit up first-time semifinalist Okkodo for 15 first-quarter points and paced eight-time champion Kadena to a 51-32 romp over the Bulldogs>
-- Talk about a tournament that has utterly, completely been turned on its head: If you had told me in December that 2009 semifinalist Seoul American would be playing for 15th place on Saturday, that 2009 finalist Yokota would be playing for ninth place and 2009 11th-place team Okkodo would be playing for third ... well, you get the idea ...
-- One thing that Seoul American's girls won't be lacking is fan support. Following Seoul American's boys' 58-50 15th-place win over John F. Kennedy of Guam, the Falcons got a lift from Yokota principal Darrell Mood to Higashi-Fussa station on the Hachiko train line, with transfers at Hachioji onto the Yokohama Line and at Machida onto the Odakyu Line for Sobudaimae station. A brisk 15-minute walk to the Yano Fitness Center and presto! the Falcons girls will have 10 players and two coaches, including the very vocal Steve Boyd, cheering for them.
-- Trivial factoid of little interest to anybody except me: Speaking of host teams, did you know that this is the first time since 1985 that the host teams in both the Boys and Girls Class AA Tournaments did not reach Center Court?
-- One school did put its teams in both finals, with Wagner's boys beating Guam Community College in early March at Kubasaki High School, while Wagner's girls later in May lost to Kubasaki at Yokota High School.
-- From the "doesn't this take you back?" department. Miles Peterson, Christian Academy Japan class of 2010, is the product of a CAJ family; dad Jim graduated in 1980, and his mum, the former Hydi Buss, in 1982. Buss played against teams coached by Gene Witt of American School In Japan. In the late 1980s, Hydi coached against Witt when she taught at International School of the Sacred Heart. Today, Gene and Hydi referee games as members of the United Services For Japan Officials Association.
-- And yes, i saw Hydi play in her senior-year Far East tournament. As Ornauer shows his age yet again ...
-- Cuisine of the week: No doubt about it, the Panther Inn at Capps Gym, Yokota High School, home of Kathy Lowder's home-made coffee cake. Utterly delish and sinfully guilty. Mind if I take a batch with me to Okinawa?
Published: February 19, 2010
Check this out. Sound files from actual phone call-ins to AFN Eagle 810-AM radio in Tokyo, courtesy of Your's Truly, chatting it up with Casey Amdahl, aka Casey Crumbles on the Lunchbox Rumbles and Tech Sgt. Deidre Hines (or in this case, the Traffic Jams). We're talking about YOU, the Pacific high school sports fan, athlete, coach and avid follower no matter what colour of stripe. :)
February 11, 2010:
February 4, 2010:
January 28, 2010:
January 21, 2010:
Published: February 19, 2010
Boys Class AA -- St. Mary's International 30, Simon Sanchez 28. Amrit Warraich's layup with 1 second left proves to be the difference. Kadena 51, Okkodo 32. Taiyo Robertson erupts for 15 first-quarter points, including three three-pointers. St. Mary's vs. Kadena, 7:30 p.m. Saturday; St. Mary's beat Kadena in pool play earlier this week.
Girls Class AA -- Seoul American 67, Kadena 66. Kadena's inspired 5-0 Far East run comes to an end when Destinee Harrison shakes off an ankle injury to hit two foul shots with .8 seconds left. Faith Academy 59, Notre Dame 31. Kelly Hardeman and the Lady V's leave nothing to chance. Seoul American vs. Faith Academy, 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Rematch of last year's barnburner.
Published: February 19, 2010
Girls: Daegu American 42, International School of the Sacred Heart 40. Warriors two-thirds of the way to a Class A school-year title sweep.
Boys: Morrison Christian Academy repeats, winning 74-64 over Daegu American. Close all the way until Mustangs hit several free throws in the final minute to pull away.
Published: February 19, 2010
More What's In a Name? games with the Boys Class A Tournament field:
-- The Butler did it: Freshman flash has Eagles soaring (Jocquez Butler, Robert D. Edgren)
-- Mustangs Heading in right direction (Matthew Heading, senior, Morrison Christian Academy)
And perhaps the best name of any I've seen this week:
-- Sophomore star has opponents Aiken (Aiken Morgan, St. Paul Christian)
Published: February 18, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer shakes his head at the wonder of a Far East High School Basketball Tournament shot-clock debate that will get absolutely nowhere:
-- To shot clock or not to shot clock? That's the question revisited in the wake of St. Mary's International's 12-11 stallfest over Kubasaki in what will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable, infamous and most talked-about quarterfinals in Boys Class AA Tournament history.
-- And for all the wrong reasons, for Kubasaki coach Jon Fick, who fought fire with fire by taking a page right out of St. Mary's own playbook, simply took a roll of the dice, knowing he had to try something, anything, different than what hadn't worked two of three times his Dragons faced the defending Class AA champion Titans earlier this season.
-- Just so happens the roll came up snake-eyes, instead of sevens. But as Kenny Rogers said at the end of the movie named after his own song, "That's why they call it gambling."
-- I applaud Fick for his strategem. And there was one team that had the patience to wait out Dionte Watie holding the ball against his hip for the better part of the first 23:55 of the contest. The one Kubasaki played.
-- Just for the record, DODEA Pacific did away with the shot clock for Far East Tournaments two years ago. As an affiliate member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, DODEA Pacific simply falls in line with 45 of 50 states that don't use a shot clock. DODEA Europe doesn't use one for its championship tournaments, either.
-- No way, DODEA Pacific's Far East Athletic Coordinator Don Hobbs says, will the shot clock be returning. And in his view -- one with which I'm squarely in DODEA Pacific's corner -- there are enough provisions in NFHS' rule books that allow opposing teams to deal with stall-minded teams. It's quite elementary, actually. Stretch a defender to the ballhandler; that forces a five-second closely-guarded count.
-- In short, I'll bet the wife, the house, all four cars, all four children and my nearly 2-year-old grandchild -- the shot clock will not return. Trust.
-- Besides, how can you justify wanting a return to the shot clock based on ONE game?
-- In that game, in which both sides failed to make many an easy shot and turned the ball over numerous times at the worst possible moments, St. Mary's did what it had to do better, doing the basics, hitting 7 of 11 foul shots in the fourth quarter.
-- It could very well be that Kubasaki has provided teams with the blueprint to beat St. Mary's. The Titans slow everybody else down; the trick is to slow St. Mary's down. Only you'd better hit your shots when you get the opportunity.
-- St. Mary's 12 points represents the lowest winning score in the 61-year history of the tournament. The old record was 21, set in the very first Far East in 1949 by Meguro against St. Joseph's, which had 18. Kokura (1955) and Fukuoka (1952) each hold the record for lowest losing score (10), which Kubasaki almost matched.
-- And while Kubasaki's boys scored just 11 points, all in the fourth quarter, Gabby Falco was busy scoring almost four times that in one game, setting a Girls Class AA Tournament record with 42 points in a 71-56 win over Yokota in the consolation bracket.
-- Yevonne Sears of Robert D. Edgren held the record previously, 41, set on Feb. 24, 2000, at Edgren's Eagles' Nest. And yep, that also came against Yokota.
-- Sears had broken the record of 40 set 17 years earlier by Sumiko Arai of Seisen International.
-- Kubasaki broke a two-month-plus losing streak in beating Yokota, and though the Dragons won't win the Girls Class AA title, they sure felt a lot better about their trip to Zama after Thursday's action.
-- And at the very least, Falco walks away with two rather hefty honours; she also holds the Pacific's all-time single-game scoring record for girls with 44, set on Nov. 28 at the Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament, in a 69-67 win over Kadena.
-- Oh, and by the way, yes, the Final Four fields are set. And among the four teams each left in the Class AA and Boys Class A Tournaments and the three remaining in the Girls Class A field is one very big surprise.
-- Okkodo, of Guam, a school just three years old, reached its first Boys Class AA Final Four, joining Simon Sanchez, in its second straight semifinal, and giving Guam two semifinalists for the first time in ... 28 years, when John F. Kennedy's and George Washington's girls reached the 1982 semifinals.
-- Bulldogs coach Rey Serafico called Okkodo's semifinal against Kadena "a big step," one that "puts Okkodo on the map." Not to mention gives them a confidence boost when the regular season resumes on Tuesday.
-- Simon Sanchez reached its semifinal berth against St. Mary's despite having just six players on the roster.
-- With Kadena the lone DODEA Pacific semifinalist, that gives international schools their biggest Final Four representation in 30 years.
-- Meanwhile, the Girls Class AA semifinal field features three teams that have won a combined 14 titles, Seoul American (3), Kadena (6) and Faith Academy (5), along with a Notre Dame team from Guam in its second straight Final Four.
-- Any one of the four teams remaining in the Boys Class A field at Misawa Air Base, Japan, is capable of capturing the title. The key to wresting the crown from Morrison Christian Academy -- which observers say is the strongest team that coach Dan Robinson has ever fielded, including reigning MVP Stephen Hovater -- is how teams can neutralise the Mustangs' inside game, host Robert D. Edgren coach Mark Williams says.
-- Still, Osan American is capable; Jeff Tinsley, Dominique Williams, Khalil Osborne and Dominic Oliveiro got it together and beat Daegu American for the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference title.
-- Daegu American is capable: the Warriors have the great equaliser in Antoine "Flash" Feagin and rebounding aplenty in Chris Swain and Khiry Loyd, and if their perimeter shooters catch fire at the right time and force opponents to stretch their defenses, Daegu can make it happen.
-- And host Edgren is certainly capable. Their fans alone are a sixth man on the court, which can turn the Eagles' Nest into a 10-point advantage. And any team with the likes of Mert Baysal, who's enjoyed quite a coming-out party this week, along with double-double guy Gerald Atkinson and steady Jacob Sterry, will always be in every game it plays.
-- What works for the gander can work for the goose as well. That was Daegu girls coach Michelle Chandler, borrowing a page from both St. Mary's and Kubasaki's boys playbook ... or is it Osan American girls coach Bruce Barker's playbook? ... Whichever, she enveloped International School of the Sacred Heart with defensive pressure and seized a 16-3 halftime lead, then played stallball in the second half en route to a 30-19 win that carried the Warriors to Friday's title game.
-- So, the Warriors will put their legs up on blocks while ISSH and Edgren slug it out for the right to meet the Warriors, and have to beat Daegu twice for the title, on Friday afternoon.
-- What a GREAT last two days of the week these will be.
Published: February 18, 2010
Final Four fields are set in the Class AA Tournaments. Seoul American vs. Kadena at 4:30 and Notre Dame vs. defending champion Faith Academy at 6 p.m. in the girls at Camp Zama's Yano Fitness Center. Boys field has Simon Sanchez vs. defending champion St. Mary's International at 6 p.m. and Okkodo vs. Kadena at 7:30 p.m. at Yokota High School's Capps Gym.
St. Mary's reached their second straight Final Four under the most unusual of circumstances. They beat Kubasaki 12-11, setting a record for lowest winning score ... and it was KUBASAKI who did the stalling! For three quarters! Before coming up just short in the end. The old mark was 21, set in the very first Far East in 1949 by Meguro against St. Joseph's, which had 18. Kokura (1955) and Fukuoka (1952) each hold the record for lowest losing score (10), which Kubasaki almost matched.
And while Kubasaki's boys were trying to hit the low-water team-scoring mark, Kubasaki senior forward Gabby Falco set the high-water mark for single-game scoring by a player, getting 42 points in a 71-56 win over Yokota in a consolation-bracket game. That breaks the old record of 41 set in 2000 by Yevonne Sears of Robert D. Edgren against Yokota. Falco also holds the single-game Pacific record with 44 points, scored in a 69-67 win over Kadena on Nov. 28 in the Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament.
Published: February 17, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer looks around for the eye toothpicks and keeps stumbling toward the finish line:
-- Highlighting the so-called "Group of Death," that lower-right quadrant of the Boys Class AA Tournament bracket, was a former Yokota Panther helping his current team, Guam High (Panthers, by coincidence) help show his former team to the door. Nine points and a defensive shadow job in Yokota's Antony Phillips (17 points, but he could have had more), Guam High downs Yokota on its home floor 53-52 and sends the host Panthers to the consolation bracket earlier than they've been there in ... nine years, I want to say.
-- "I love those guys over there, but these are my brothers, these are my boys. I'm a Guam High Panther now," junior Paul Floyd said.
-- Only the third time in school history that Guam High has reached the Final Eight, and now just a win over Kadena -- another group of Panthers -- stands in the way of Guam High's first Final Four berth.
-- Kadena survived the other "Group of Death" matchup, beating Miles Peterson, back from his ankle injury last Saturday, and Christian Academy Japan 65-57. Taiyo Robertson torched the nets for 25 points, overcoming Peterson's 21-point, 17-rebound performance. Not bad for a guy playing virtually on one leg; you could see Peterson grimace every time he came down on the left leg the slightest bit off-kilter.
-- Every possibility that two Guam teams (Guam High, Simon Sanchez) and two Kanto Plain teams (Nile C. Kinnick, defending champion St. Mary's International) could reach the Final Four.
-- "It's one of the most wide-open tournaments I've ever seen," organizer Tim Pujol said.
-- Robert D. Edgren boys coach Mark Williams echoed those sentiments, re: Boys Class A Tournament at Misawa Air Base, where, he says, any one of four teams, Edgren, Daegu American, St. Paul Christian and defending champion Morrison Christian Academy, could rise to the top. "Wide open. No gimmes up here," Williams said.
-- Both Edgren's boys and girls teams started the Class A double-elimination playoffs strongly with victories. Edgren girls coach Sarah Richardson knows the path to success runs through host Daegu American and favored International School of the Sacred Heart, which beat the Eagles in pool play.
-- You know Hannah Arbour and ISSH want to capture that ever-elusive second Class A title and send Arbour, a senior, and eight-year coach Kurt Rose, the Symbas' dynasty architect whom the rumour mill says is contemplating stepping down, out as winners.
-- Wait a minute ... you mean American School In Japan held Yokota super sophomore guard Erika Ettl to 12 points, and the Panthers to just two points each in the third and fourth quarters Wednesday?
-- You're kidding, right?
-- OK, let's see the Mustangs do that to Seoul American or defending Girls Class AA champion Faith Academy ... or even Kadena, which continues to ride a hot tide; six straight wins over Kubasaki after losing its first two to the Dragons.
Published: February 17, 2010
More What's In A Name exercises with the Girls Class AA Tournament program, with the help of Nile C. Kinnick boys coach Michael Adair as he wolfed down his Whopper with cheese (no tomato) courtside at the Boys Class AA Tournament at Yokota:
-- Can't get any Tougher than playing Guam High (sophomore Lani and freshman Quincy Tougher, younger siblings of wrestler Michael Tougher).
-- Iris helps Mustangs bloom into title contender (senior Iris Ryu, American School In Japan).
-- Cruz control: Islanders ride freshman flash's shooting into playoffs (Jasmine Cruz, John F. Kennedy).
-- JFK pulls Shacher over Faith, reaches Center Court (senior April Schacher, JFK).
-- Pressley sisters turn Class AA tourney into Heartbreak Hotel for foes (sophomore Bria and junior Jasmine Pressley, Kadena).
And, finally, as Ornauer reaches down to catch 60,000 pairs of rolling eyes:
-- Zama's Rose presents thorny problems for opponents (sophomore Nia Rose, Zama American).
Published: February 17, 2010
I do this occasionally, a play on words/shoutout to selected players in the Far East tournaments, right out of the tournament programs. Here's :
Barber, Knights clip opponents with ease (Justin Barber, Christian Academy Japan)
The Son also rises: Senior boosts CAJ into playoffs (Sung Jun Son, Christian Academy Japan)
Faith takes the Long way to title (Kyle Long, Faith Academy)
Panthers Cosey up to Final Four bid (Aaron Cosey, Guam High)
Where there's Smoak, there's a Red Devil of a victory (Travis Smoak, Nile C. Kinnick)
And, finally, as I hear the groans all the way down on Long Drive at Camp Zama:
Berry good: Zama freshman shows promise for the future (Tyus Berry, Zama American)
More to come
Published: February 17, 2010
So, whats it like to be related to a World War II hero?
It is a big deal, but theres no special privileges with it, said Larissa Arnold, a Seoul American junior and the great-great granddaughter of Gen. Henry H. Hap Arnold, one of the founding fathers of todays Air Force.
The younger Arnold transferred from California to Yongsan Garrison over the summer and is a backup forward for the Falcons, one of four top seeds in the Girls Class AA Tournament.
She's knowledgeable of her great-great-grandfather, having read his books. And since moving to Yongsan, Arnold says she has a huge fan club, headed up by her coach Billy Ratcliff. Coach told everybody who I was and everybody was like, Oh, yeah! Everybody asks me about it.
Don't know about you, but I think that's gotta be really kewl. :)
Published: February 17, 2010
I'm not making this up -- the following names and home towns came from the actual 1974 Far East High School Boys Basketball Tournament program, East Side High School "Sun Devils" of Honolulu:
C. Ment, Hardrock, Texas
Freddie Swisher, Basket, Ark.
Buddy "Rocket" Malloy, Moonville, Ala.
T.A. Vern, Elbow Bend, Hawai'i
O. "Hooks" McCoy, Twopoint, Wis.
A.S. Phalt, Black Tar, Ore.
Rickey H. Bigwave, Hangten, Hawai'i
Jimmy I. Smiley, Frown, S.C.
Just one of many take-you-back and very humourous memories as I thumbed my way through Far East tournament programs from the years 1970, '73, '74, '76 and '77.
Fun seeing the ye olde skools from the late '60s and early '70s before force realignment closed them down. The Chofu Vikings, Johnson Falcons, Yamato Warriors and Chitose Knights of Japan. Wagner Falcons and George Dewey Admirals of Subic Bay Naval Station, Philippines, before Mount Pinatubo happened. The original school mascots, such as the E.J. King Kahoks and the Misawa Missiles of Japan.
Then, there were the "big hair" players back from the Julius Erving era. Greg Bennefield and Mike Daniel of Zama American and David Hobbs of Misawa, 1974; Bill Downey of Chofu, 1973, as examples.
Tine Hardeman, the legendary Faith Academy boys coach, before he had grey hair. His first son, T.J., now a collegiate coach in California, PLAYING for Faith back in 1973. Seeing a photograph of Don Kalina, one of Yokota's legendary Three Wise Men, in a shirt, tie and jacket instead of his customary "Shroud of Kalina."
Learning that prior to Tim Griffin of Misawa setting the single-game points record (71) that still stands today, the record was previously held by Don McKenzie of Chitose High School in Hokkaido, set against American School In Japan in 1969.
Seeing the ubiquitous list of records that covered the whole gamut, single-game, whole tournament, everything from shooting percentage to free-throw attempts to rebounds, all of which went away when record-keeping ceased in 1984.
Just amazing stuff.
Published: February 17, 2010
UPDATED at noon Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Stripes depends heavily on the contributions of a great many individuals, a living, breathing, ever-changing team of free-lancers and, most importantly, students who step up and give of their time to be the eyes and ears of Far East Tournaments for the Pacific's newspaper of record.
This week is no different. A good 30 young men and women have stepped up to bring the Far East High School Basketball Tournaments to the Pacific, indeed the world via the Internet.
Here's hailing Teams Eagle-Eye at Robert D. Edgren High School at Misawa Air Base, Team Troy at Zama American High School on Camp Zama, and Team Warrior of Daegu American School in South Korea.
They're providing final scores, scores by quarter and individual leading scorers and in some cases rebounders. They're trying their hand at photographing, knowing full well they're competing with the likes of Gary Cashman (here at Yokota with me), and the Olympic Games (what do you think is getting priority among the people who sign my paycheck?) among other pro, college, national and international sports.
Itr's a win-win for everybody concerned. For Stripes, it means eyes-and-ears on-the-ground coverage. For the students, it means an opportunity to experience real-time deadlines that they don't get in the classroom, and it's a resume builder: "I covered a state championship for the Pacific's newspaper of record." Colleges love that stuff.
They're uploading photos to Stripes' "Spotted" community photo section, which is taking THOUSANDS -- and I mean THOUSANDS -- of hits and page views from folks throughout the region and from sea to shining sea back home.
To name a few, and I apologise if I don't name everybody, herre's hailing Erika Brun, David Silva and Samuel Oh, reporters, and Hana Noguchi and Shane Yingling, photographers, of Team Warrior, and their journalism and yearbook sponsors Linda Scoppa and Giovanna Ross. Thank you for allowing your students the opportunity.
Team Eagle-Eye is headed by journalism and yearbook sponsors Joyce Dustin Demientieff and Shari Knowles, with on-the-ground reporting headed by Mallory Evangelista and Domonique Davis, and photography by Tony Gonzalez, Jordan Hartwig and others. The rest of the entire Eagle-Eye clan: Domo Davis, Marissa Goodwin, Alyssa Craig, Kittery Wakefield, Mitchell Brown, Ileana Brown, Brian Mazi, Kristina Aquino, Sabas Cavazos, Cheyenne Reed and Bethany Russell.
Team Troy and Zama yearbook sponsor Richard Rodgers has literally turned the outer entrance to the martial-arts and racquetball rooms of the Yano Fitness Center into a mini-newsroom, complete with laptop computers and a gaggle of computer equipment. Dominic "Man In Black 1.0" Labrador, Lewis Hahn and Rodgers' daughter, Anastasia, "Lady in Black 1.0" are out challenging the best Olympic and Cashman photos, with Heather Coe editing, while a list of reporters too numerous to mention (but I'll try) is keeping Stripes informed every step of the way.
(deep breath) ... Alexandria Rivera, Austin Wilson, Genevieve Burley, Trisha Dring, Nick Jorgenson, Alysa Prather, Taylor Noakes, Ricky Martin, Natasia James, Hime Pitts, Phoebe Prince and Tristan Bier.
Did I leave anybody out? And is there a definitive list of Team Eagle-Eye reporters out there somewhere?
Ever grateful for all their help. Thank you so much!
Published: February 16, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer continues to wonder if bad weather is following ORNY and the Ca$hman deliberately:
-- They're truly playing inspired ball, those defending Boys Class AA Tournament champion St. Mary's International Titans. Just five weeks after their old coach, Fred Sava, lost his battle with brain cancer, the Titans have gone 7-2 since, and swept their three pool-play games at Yokota Air Base, including a 40-37 last-second win over pre-tournament favorite Kadena.
-- Love those shirts. "Playing hard for Coach Sava." Breaking the huddle by shouting "Sava!" Love the way they're honoring his memory.
-- And the way they've been playing, and the way the single-elimination bracket is set up, Toni Taniguchi, Amritpal Warraich and the Titans are in excellent position to make it back-to-back Far East titles. Consider:
-- Kadena and Christian Academy Japan, which figured to play in the championship game, will play each other, all right ... in the first round, since the Panthers finished second and the Knights third in their respective pools ... and ended up in the same sub-bracket against each other.
-- The same sub-bracket, which could very easily be called the tournament's "group of death," pits Yokota against Guam High. That's three tough teams and the tournament host, only one of which can survive to reach the semifinals.
-- Meanwhile, the Titans need only get through Kubasaki or Seoul American, which each sport sub-.500 records this season.
-- A Final Four featuring Nile C. Kinnick vs. CAJ and St. Mary's vs. Faith Academy? Very possible.
-- Settling the seeds in two of the Class AA Tournament pools were done by points-differential tiebreaker, as was the case with the Girls Class A Tournament. There, International School of the Sacred Heart, Daegu American and Robert D. Edgren each finished 7-1, with ISSH giving up fewer defensive points than the Warriors, who took second, and the third-place Eagles.
-- "It's a toss-up," Daegu coach Michelle Chandler said.
-- Morrison Christian Academy, defending Boys Class A champion, earned a top seed at Misawa Air Base, but not without E.J. King, at the bottom of the same pool, downing Morrison 71-68. Let's see, that's E.J. King, which beat Morrison, which beat St. Paul Christian, which beat E.J. King.
-- Guess Chandler could easily be talking about the Boys Class A Tournament, too.
-- Of the top seeds in the Girls Class AA Tournament at Camp Zama, Kadena continues to be the most unlikely of the bunch. The Panthers swept their three pool-play games, and showed once more the power of team chemistry in every case outpowers talent alone.
-- Oh, and the last time Kadena made a midseason coaching switch, in 2002-03? The Panthers won the Class AA Tournament.
-- Tuesday's best cuisine: Zama American High School PTO's Philippine-style lunch, pancit and lumpia. Tasty-tasty-tasty. Something like I ain't had since an unforgettable late-afternoon lunch in the announcer's booth at the softball field at Naval Communications Station Philippines 23 years ago.
-- Great seeing the Ashliman sisters, Aubrey and Mallarie, of last spring's Far East Girls Class AA Soccer Tournament champion Zama American Trojans; they were back visiting their ye olde skool this week. No, they're not staying to play soccer and help Zama defend its crown (darn it), but it was great seeing them nonetheless. Great athletes and fine, wholesome young women.
-- Confidential to Monty Ashliman: Commander, what must I do to ensure that your daughters can do just that, return, play alongside their Virginia buddy and traveling teammate Taylor Cave? Talk about a threesome who could spend the entire season playing one-touch in every last opponent's defensive end.
Published: February 15, 2010
Musings, mutterins and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer shouts at the top of his lungs: "LET THE GAMES END!" (the Olympic Games, that is):
-- A healthy ankle. A healthy ankle. My kingdom for a healthy ankle.
-- That could have easily been the war cry of a great number of teams as injuries began to mount on the first day of Far East High School Basketball Tournament championship week.
-- Start with the most talked-about ankle in the Pacific, the left one belonging to Christian Academy Japan senior star Miles Peterson, who hurt the limb during a Saturday tune-up game at home against Faith Academy. The injury sidelined Miles for Monday's pool-play games and will likely keep him down until Wednesday, at least.
-- Second time he's hurt that ankle in three years, although not as badly as during his sophomore year, most of which he missed while on the mend for nearly two months.
-- Sidebar: Peterson's mom, Hydi, whom I saw PLAY at CAJ in 1982, now officiates games. How different she looks in that uniform!
-- Confidential to Jim Peterson, Miles' dad, CAJ Class of 1980: I would have found out anyway; you know it and I know it. Too many canaries flying around the basketball courts. :)
-- Second year in a row that Faith at CAJ tune-up game resulted in an ankle injury; last year, it was the visiting Vanguards' Micah Gingerich. Somehow, me thinks that Faith at CAJ goodwill game, as much about ministry as it is athletics, may be put on hold. It's a nice game to play, but at what cost?
-- Speaking of cost, Seoul American's boys and girls teams each won two pool-play games, the boys Falcons somewhat surprisingly after a pedestrian 8-12 regular season, the girls expectedly after a 21-6 campaign. But at what cost?
-- The Girls Class AA Tournament was barely an hour old when junior Destinee Harrison tweaked an ankle. "Nothing serious," Seoul American girls coach Billy Ratcliff said; very likely, Destinee will be held out of Tuesday's pool-play game as a precaution.
-- Tommy Akinbayo, the Falcons' midseason sophomore transfer, single-handedly rallied Seoul American from a 58-53 deficit with 13.8 seconds left, hitting consecutive three-point plays for a 59-58 victory. But he, too, turned an ankle when he stepped on an American School In Japan opponent's foot. Scratch him for the rest of Monday.
-- Here's hoping that head injuries to Gabby Falco of Kubasaki and John F. Kennedy's Jennifer Abrincia aren't serious and they can get back on the court in short order.
-- On the Class A hardwood, what a heady day for Robert D. Edgren. The Eagles soared to a combined six wins in six pool-play games, the defending runner-up girls, led by reigning MVP Ashley Hawkins, going 4-0 at Daegu, South Korea, and the boys, behind scoring ace Jacob Sterry, winning two games handily at the Eagles' Next at Misawa Air Base.
-- But don't count out for a second St. Paul Christian. Six years past their last Class A title, the Warriors' boys are on the warpath. 77-46 over E.J. King. 57-27 over Daegu American. Two teams thought to be in the title-hunt conversation. "Tough, strong and consistent all the way around," E.J. King coach Mike Milling said.
-- One might view Kadena's girls, 6-19 during the regular season, as a surprise Girls Class AA team, having won their two pool-play games on Monday. Toss the regular-season record out. Most of those losses came to Japanese teams in the Okinawa-American Shootout and adult teams in the Martin Luther King Invitational last month on Okinawa.
Camp Zama, headed your way in the morning; girls play the morning shift at Yano Fitness Center, boys play the afternoon shift at Yokota. Toggle-toggle-toggle.
Published: February 15, 2010
Scores of e-mails I have received from athletes, coaches, parents, etc., wondering when and where the Far East tournaments for baseball, softball and track and field are supposed to be.
The short answer, straight from Far East Athletics Coordinator Don Hobbs:
Tentative dates and sites have been set. Track and field, final arrangements are being made for May 24-25 on Okinawa. Baseball and softball would be the same week as the Far East soccer tournaments, and would run three to four days, one in the Kanto Plain, the other on Okinawa. As soon as final arrangements are made, word will be forthcoming.
Published: February 13, 2010
These could qualify as deja vu times for Daegu American girls basketball coach Michelle Chandler and Seoul American boys mentor Steve Boyd. Each received a mid-season transfer from the States, the Warriors welcoming senior Alexandria Averette from Ohio and the Falcons Tommy Akinbayo from Texas. The two could provide just the spark each team needs to make a deep run through their respective tournaments. Click here to read their story and preview the Far East tournaments.
Published: February 12, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer puts himself up on blocks for a couple of days to catch his breath before heading for Japan and Far East basketball ... a luxury he's not had before:
-- Win, or else. That was the situation facing Robert D. Edgren 168-pounder Cheston Nurial-Dacalio and 180-pounder Allen Russell as they stared in the face of clear and present danger. Chandler Severns (158) had just pinned to help Daegu American creep to within 23-20, and victories at both weight classes would give the Warriors their first Far East High School Wrestling Tournament Class A dual-meet title banner.
-- And Dacalio and Russell each responded to the challenge. Quick first-period pins helped the Eagles put the dual meet out of reach. Final score: Edgren 35, Daegu 28.
-- Now, the Edgren winter sports program is halfway to an unprecedented sweep of all four Class A Tournament titles, with boys basketball at Edgren and girls basketball at Daegu American next week.
-- And this can be done, folks. Edgren's girls have the ultimate X-factor in reigning MVP Ashley Hawkins, but this group is deeper than it appears -- Jen Black, more of a soccer player, is more than fair at guard, as is Jessica Bergman, nominally a forward but she can handle the ball. And any boys team that has sophomore Jacob Sterry doing some damage has a more-than-good chance.
-- But back to the mat. That makes six Class A tournament titles for Edgren's boys.
-- And salute the Warriors, who brought 11 wrestlers this year, the school's most ever. "Good year," coach Bill Riggs said. "Each year, we get a little bigger, a little stronger. Maybe next year, we'll pull it together."
-- Everything that seemed to not happen for Kadena in Wednesday's individual-freestyle tournament, happened and more in Thursday's Class AA dual-meet tournament final. The Panthers outlasted Nile C. Kinnick 32-26 as the first Far East Wrestling Tournament ever held in Korea wrapped up dramatically.
-- I hate snow.
-- For the second straight year, Kadena's 129-pounder Tae Hon Paschal defeated a Far East gold medalist in the dual-meet championship match. All the incentive in the world, Paschal said, was due to Kadena coming up just short in the individual-freestyle team chase. "We wanted that banner so badly," Paschal said of Kadena's third straight dual-meet crown.
-- Even in defeat, good things happened for the Panthers. Lucky loser Zach Pelky (148) got shut out 3-0, 4-0 by Kinnick's Dereck Youngblood, but stayed off his back and did not get pinned. Same for Greg Harris (168), who lost a 2-1 decision (3-7, 6-1, 4-2) to Nichalous Gibbons, but like Pelky did not get pinned. Kinnick got just three points per victory, instead of five each. HUGE for Kadena.
-- But when Chris Santos (180) of Kinnick easily beat Tyler Broome in 59 seconds, the Red Devils led 25-24. A pin by David de los Santos at 215 pounds would have secured the dual-meet title and a Class AA sweep for Kinnick.
-- It was not to be. The Ahner brothers, aka the top two thirds of Kadena's "Murderers' Row," saw to it.
-- A pair of three-point throws by Aaron Ahner brought down de los Santos for a two-period decision. Kadena led for good 27-26.
-- Gabe Ahner ensured the victory by leaving nothing to chance. A quick head-and-arm throw and a 21-second pin over Donavan Whitehead made it so.
-- Did I mention I hate snow?
-- No question, Kinnick losing 135-pound Far East champion Elijah Gamble to a dislocated elbow in the Red Devils' semifinal triumph over Yokota meant at least a six-point swing in favor of Kadena. "Injuries happen," Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said, insisting that it was not about the Devils losing Gamble, but about Kadena wrestling hard and coming out ahead of a Kinnick team that wrestled equally hard but came up short.
-- Kinnick still sits second all-time with seven combined/Class AA, with Kadena just behind at six, tied with St. Mary's International.
-- Cuisine of the Week, Part II: Again, I say Alaska Mining Company stands alone as the best eatery on Camp Humphreys. Their signature item may be steak and eggs; I highly recommend the ham steak. Best I have ever had. Hands down. 'Nuff said.
Published: February 10, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer fervently hopes it will be at least another 23 years before another video review is needed to determine a Far East weight-class champion:
-- OK, campers, how did Ornauer make out with his gold-medal bout predictions? ... Let's just say Ornauer's looking for a new crystal ball because the one he has is as fogged as the weather has been at Humphreys since he arrived:
-- 101: Kortney Martin, Seoul American, vs. David Piliz, Kinnick. Martin won it, but over Steven Walter of Kubasaki, who KO'd Piliz from the knockout bracket.
-- 108: Nick Barker, Kubasaki, vs. Marcus Boehler. Kinnick. Got that backwards, yes?
-- 115: Aaron Avila, Kadena, vs. Triston Barnet, Kinnick. This one, too.
-- 122: Jeff Mizell, Kadena, vs. Will Smith, Yokota. And this one.
-- 129: Michael Tougher, Guam High, vs. Tae Hon Paschal, Kadena. Tougher finished second to Marlowe Gonzales of Kinnick.
-- 135: Elijah Gamble, Kinnick, vs. Devin Day, Yokota. FINALLY! Ornauer nails one.
-- 141: Andrew Sturgis, Guam High, vs. Tim Pounds, Edgren. Backwards again.
-- 148: Dereck Youngblood, Kinnick, vs. Zach Pelky, Kadena. Nailed this one.
-- 158: Harry Bloom, Kadena, vs. John Iredale, Zama American. Bloom won, yes, but Seoul American's Erik Kingsley dispatched Iredale and earned the honor of being repeatedly gut-wrenched by Bloom.
-- 168: Michael Spencer, Zama, vs. Cheston Nurial-Dacalio, Edgren. Spencer won, but over his arch-rival Nick Gibbons of Kinnick.
-- 180: Rashaan Grady, Guam High, vs. Matt Payne, Kubasaki. Last one I nailed.
-- 215: Aaron Ahner, Kadena, vs. Steve Brown, Seoul American. Totally forgot about Theatrice Eaton; he manhandled Ahner.
-- Heavyweight: Michael Gilliam, Osan American, vs. Gabe Ahner, Kadena. Gilliam wins, yes, but over Jack Miller of Kubasaki, who beat Ahner for just the second time this season.
-- Kinnick has become known for athletically gifted daughters of high-ranking officers (Sarah Greenert, basketball, soccer, Class of 2007, daughter of now vice chief of Naval operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert; Shannon Donegan, tennis, basketball, daughter of Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, Task Force 70 and 75, Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5). Turns out the elder Donegan is something of a sports coaching genius, having helped guide the Red Devils to their first Far East wrestling team title in eight years.
-- Capturing five gold medals, Kinnick amassed 73 points, 13 better than pre-tournament favorite Kadena, to win the individual freestyle team title. Defending gold medalist Marcus Boehler (108 pounds) led the pack by repeating his title, while Triston Barnet (115), Marlowe Gonzales (129), Elijah Gamble (135) and Dereck Youngblood (148) each became first-time champions.
-- Still think that Gary Wilson is not rethinking his decision to coach a sport he'd never coached before (what am I thinking? was his aside to me in an e-mail in December)?
-- Didn't think so.
- High flying in Eagles Country as Robert D. Edgren posted its first Class A championship, getting a gold medal from 141-pounder Tim Pounds and outscoring defending champion Osan American 22-18.
-- But Boehler's repeat title didn't come without a great deal of debate -- and a videotape review for the first time since 1987 to determine a Far East weight-class champion. Long story short, Boehler was awarded a two-period decision over Kubasaki's Nick Barker in the second of two double-elimination championship bouts.
-- International Federation of Wrestling Associations (FILA) rules, which govern Far East tournaments, do permit video reviews when video is available. Boehler-Barker # 2 was reviewed twice, and both times, Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs said, it was judged that the second period ended tied 4-4, but Boehler scored the bigger value point later in the bout than Barker scored his.
-- The last video review in tournament history came in 1987, when heavyweights Stephe DeSantis and Rodney Huffman of Yokota and American School In Japan locked horns in what turned out to be a DeSantis overtime victory.
-- So much went Boehler's way this season, even though he felt he didn't have the best of campaigns. Coming away from it with a second gold medal, Boehler says he learned much: "Don't force it, wrestle smart, win it one point at a time, one round at a time."
-- How about Guam High? Getting gold medals from Rashaan Grady (180) and Theatrice Eaton (215 pounds), the Panthers achieved their best finish in school history, taking third place with 48 points.
-- Would having Cody Reyes in the lineup at 148 pounds made a difference for Kadena? I don't see it. For one, his replacement, Zach Pelky, reached the final (losing to Youngblood). Had Reyes won gold, that simply would have reduced the margin from 13 points to seven, 70-63.
-- Doubt that anybody saw Barnet, a freshman, upsetting Avila, a senior.
-- Will Smith, Yokota. Unscored on at Far East. Hasn't lost one period this season. Not bad for a second-year wrestler.
-- The Blooms, Jacob and Harry, with three each Far East golds to their credit, become the most decorated DODEA Pacific wrestling brothers in Far East Tournament history.
-- Zama's Michael Spencer now holds a 3-2 season-series edge over Kinnick's Nick Gibbons.
-- Kinnick's Elijah Gamble makes it 7-0 in his season series with dethroned Yokota Far East gold medalist Devin Day.
-- Cuisine of the week: The unlikely named Alaska Mining Company at Camp Humphreys offers a quiet atmosphere, cheerful attendants, a plentiful menu and its signature item, steak and eggs. Yum.
-- Fat Wednesday. That's what the AAFES food court and Alaska Mining Company must have declared after wrestlers did their final weigh-in of the season for Thursday's dual-meet tournament. After which, they all fanned out to enjoy every last guilty pleasure they've been putting off since November. :)
Only the dual-meet tournament left.
Published: February 10, 2010
Kinnick wins first team title since 2002. five golds and 73 points to 60 for Kadena. Guam High 48 points, best finish in school history. Edgren captures first Class A title. Four of five defending champions repeated. Gold-medal winners: 101, Kortney Martin, Seoul American; 108, Marcus Boehler (repeat, and with plenty of debate); 115, Triston Barnet, Kinnick; 122, Will Smith, Yokota; 129, Marlowe Gonzales, Kinnick; 135, Elijah Gamble, Kinnick; 141, Tim Pounds, Edgren; 148, Dereck Youngblood, Kinnick; 158, Harry Bloom (three golds in a row), Kadena; 168, Michael Spencer (repeat), Zama; 180, Rashaan Grady, Guam High; 215, Theatrice Eaton, Guam High; heavyweight, Michael Gilliam (repeat), Osan.
Published: February 9, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer satisfies his 24 Jones ... then flips to AFN Movie to view the ever-disappointing Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift and wonders at the marvel of how director Justin Lin got it absolutely, completely, utterly wrong:
-- Unless you checked the tournament program or results of previous in-season tournaments, would you have known who Kubasaki's 108-pounder Nick Barker or Robert D. Edgren's 168-pounder Cheston Nurial-Dacalio were on sight?
-- Didn't think so.
-- Well, OK, when Cheston had the big hair, maybe.
-- You can be sure each are very much on the Far East High School Wrestling Tournament map, and as gold-medal contenders. To wit: Barker's first-period pin against defending Far East Tournament gold medalist Marcus Boehler of Nile C. Kinnick in Tuesday's individual freestyle playoffs. Dacalio's coming out was a tad more difficult, but his two-period decision over Kinnick's 168-pounder Nick Gibbons -- who has beaten reigning Far East champion Michael Spencer of Zama twice this season -- was no less emphatic.
-- Again, this is why they wrestle the bouts on the mat, instead of just talking about them. Or as Dacalio's coach Justin Edmonds said, "If the matches were decided on paper, why do we choose to come here and wrestle?"
-- Excellent point.
-- Any doubt that that 135-pound weight class is as much as war as the laws of wrestling allows? Reigning Far East champion Devin Day of Yokota, and runner-up Jon Goddard of Kubasaki, bronze-medalist Jordan Castillo-Henderson of Kadena and Kinnick's fourth-place finisher Elijah Gamble from a year ago. What was billed as the best four-way battle in 10 years is living up to its hype. Gamble vs. Day in the upper bracket, Henderson vs. Goddard in the knockout bracket on Wednesday morning. The attrition will be absolutely breathtaking.
-- Anybody notice that Guam High, which has never finished higher than sixth at Far East, put six wrestlers in the semifinals? Hey, they aren't island champions four times in five years for nothing.
-- Just like last year, Kadena will definitely find its hands full chasing that Class AA individual freestyle team title. Too many good wrestlers out there gonna steal too many points to make it a runaway. Trust. And the Class A title chase will clearly come down to whether Edgren wins all the bouts it's supposed to.
Gold-medal bout predictions (winner on the left):
-- 101: Kortney Martin, Seoul American, vs. David Piliz, Kinnick.
-- 108: Barker vs. Boehler.
-- 115: Aaron Avila, Kadena, vs. Triston Barnet, Kinnick.
-- 122: Jeff Mizell, Kadena, vs. Will Smith, Yokota.
-- 129: Michael Tougher, Guam High, vs. Tae Hon Paschal, Kadena.
-- 135: Gamble vs. Day.
-- 141: Andrew Sturgis, Guam High, vs. Tim Pounds, Edgren.
-- 148: Dereck Youngblood, Kinnick, vs. Zach Pelky, Kadena.
-- 158: Harry Bloom, Kadena, vs. John Iredale, Zama American.
-- 168: Michael Spencer, Zama, vs. Cheston Nurial-Dacalio, Edgren.
-- 180: Rashaan Grady, Guam High, vs. Matt Payne, Kubasaki.
-- 215: Aaron Ahner, Kadena, vs. Steve Brown, Seoul American.
-- Heavyweight: Michael Gilliam, Osan American, vs. Gabe Ahner, Kadena.
Published: February 8, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gets used to covering a tournament at a new venue and a base he's not been to for a long time ... first time since 1990 in Pusan, in fact:
-- You don't think Zama American's reigning Far East gold medalist Michael Spencer didn't view his pin of Nile C. Kinnick's Nick Gibbons in 1 minute, 30 seconds, with the least little bit of satisfaction? Nice turnaround for him, after getting pinned by Gibbons the last two times they faced each other, including Saturday's Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools finals.
-- And you don't think Gibbons viewed that stunning turn of events as a slap across the face with a wet squirrel? Time to get busy, he told himself afterward. Gotta get serious. Michael means bid'ness with a capital B.
-- Which just shows to go ya ... pool-play bouts DO mean something on the first days of Far East High School Wrestling Tournaments. No, they don't decide gold medals, they merely decide which wrestlers deserve top seeds into the double-elimination individual-freestyle playoffs over the next two days.
-- BUT ... they can also be a momentum seizer, a momentum shifter, a tone setter. They can show who might be slumping at the absolute worst time or who might be peaking at the right moment. They can ... yes ... be previews of what might be to come during Wednesday's gold-medal bouts.
-- Such as Kinnick's Elijah Gamble's sixth win in as many tries this season at 135 pounds over Yokota's reigning gold medalist Devin Day, who'd gone 5-1 against Gamble last season. Or Kinnick's returning champion Marcus Boehler's pinning Yokota's Ed Peterson at 108, Kadena's Aaron Avila decisioning Kinnick's Kanto champion Triston Barnet at 115, and Guam High's Andrew Sturgis downing Kadena's Jacob Bishop at 141. Or two-time gold medalist Harry Bloom decisioning Zama's John Iredale at 158. And reigning heavyweight gold medalist Michael Gilliam of Osan American sending Kadena's Gabe Ahner to the sideline holding his ribs.
-- It also gives folks a chance to size up which weight classes might be truly competitive, such as 115 and 122, which join 135, 168 and 180 as so-called "groups of death."
-- "It's an all-out war," Osan coach David Hemmer remarked as Day 1 concluded.
Published: February 7, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer prepares for as much a first-of-its-kind Far East wrestling tournament as he's ever seen in nearly 30 years out here:
-- Soooooooooo, did anybody see coming Osan American's boys basketball team's Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I Tournament title coming?
-- Didn't think so.
-- Call them the Magnificent Seven 2.0.
-- I'm not sure anybody but MVP Dominique Williams, Best Rebounder Jeff Tinsley and the rest of the Cougars saw it coming.
-- You don't think they're paying attention at Class A Tournament programs in Seoul (Yongsan International-Seoul), Daegu (Daegu American), Taichung, Taiwan (defending champion Morrison Christian Academy) and especially Misawa (host Robert D. Edgren)?
-- It just shows to go ya ... it ain't always about the entire body of work, about the win-loss record, but who comes into a Far East tournament on a real roll.
-- I guess Jacob Sterry and Robert D. Edgren can make the same claim, having taken three of four over the weekend from Zama American and Matthew C. Perry, and might have made it a sweep had not the Trojans scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and 12 in overtime to rally past the Eagles.
-- No doubt, Robert D. Edgren's and Seoul American's girls remain on fire. Ashley Hawkins, Jen Black and the Eagles made mince of Zama and Perry over the weekend, while MVP Diamond Person the Falcons made it 18 wins in 18 games against KAIAC opponents, including the KAIAC Division I tournament.
-- Finally, somebody figured out how to solve the white-hot Guam High Panthers, who won six straight to open the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam season before St. Paul Christian finally found a bucket of ice water in the form of a 61-54 win on Friday.
-- So long, Dan Beaver. Faith Academy's girls (21-2) captured the title in their own Hardeman Showcase, named for the legendary Vanguards boys coach Tine Hardeman, then gave Beaver, who coached the Lady V's from 1993 until last season, was given one of the most emotional sendoffs a coach could ever get. The e-mails and outpouring of goodwill on Facebook for Beaver from many of his former players ... at once genuine and touching.
-- Beaver had been wavering on whether he'd left the Lady V's helm too soon. He told me in an e-mail that the Saturday sendoff was one of the deciding factors, and that it's time to move on to his next life's mission.
-- Did the time go by that quickly?
-- Two weeks earlier, Nick Gibbons proved he could dominate defending Far East gold medalist Michael Spencer. In Saturday's Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Wrestling Tournament 168-pound final, the Nile C. Kinnick sophomore proved he could come from behind on the Zama American junior, too.
-- Which, ultimately, proved more important than his domination of Spencer on Jan. 23 in a dual meet at Zama. Gibbons was good with that, but far better with rallying past Spencer, whom he might've, could've beaten at the Jan. 9 Beast of the Far East Tournament but didn't.
-- Kinnick certainly showed itself to be the best in Japan, winning its fourth in-season tournament title with six golds and two each silver and bronze.
-- But that's Japan. That six-letter beast spelled K-A-D-E-N-A looms now as Far East is set to begin 10 hours from this typing at the Camp Humphreys' Super Gym.
Published: February 7, 2010
1, Kadena, Okinawa (26-8). Season sweep of Kubasaki.
2, Christian Academy Japan (20-1). Still rolling.
3, Seoul Foreign (24-5). Finally cooled off in KAIAC tournament by unlikely Osan.
4, Guam High (7-1). St. Paul Christian finally threw a bucket of cold water on Panthers.
5, Kubasaki, Okinawa (11-20). Cooled off by Kadena.
6, Faith Academy, Philippines (21-8).
7, Robert D. Edgren, Japan (10-4).
8, Yokota, Japan (14-11).
9, Osan American, South Korea (10-7). Another team finding right time to peak.
10, Daegu American, South Korea (13-6).
1, Seoul American (21-6). Rolled at KAIAC last weekend.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines (21-2). Hardeman Showcase gave great sendoff to longtime girls coach Beaver.
3, Robert D. Edgren, Japan (14-1). Still on a roll; Eagles-Daegu Class A final looms.
4, Daegu American (14-6). Only SAHS halted a possible KAIAC tournament title run.
5, American School In Japan (9-2). Quietly charging to head of Kanto class.
6, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan (6-3).
7, Yokota (10-8).
8, Zama American, Japan (13-7).
9, Academy of Our Lady of Guam (season complete).
10, Taejon Christian International (11-6).
Published: February 5, 2010
Through games of Thursday; doesn't include the weekend; that's coming early next week.
1, Kadena, Okinawa (25-7). Seventh meeting with Kubasaki Friday.
2, Christian Academy Japan (19-1). Still rolling.
3, Seoul Foreign (22-4). Rolled at APAC.
4, Guam High (6-0). Haven't come close to cooling off.
5, Kubasaki, Okinawa (11-19). May be peaking at right time.
6, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (13-10).
(tie), Robert D. Edgren, Japan (7-3).
7, E.J. King (7-4).
8, Faith Academy, Philippines (19-7). Suffered first loss since Hong Kong tournament.
10, Daegu American, South Korea (11-5).
10, St. Mary's International, Japan (11-10).
1, Seoul American (18-6). Odds on to roll in KAIAC this weekend.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines (19-2). Hardeman Showcase last test for Vanguards before Far East.
3, Robert D. Edgren, Japan (10-1). Not just Ashley Hawkins and a supporting cast; best flock of Eagles in 10 years.
4, Daegu American (12-5). Reportedly secured a latecoming "white knight" to help with their home Class A title bid.
5, American School In Japan (8-2). Well in the running for a Class AA Final Four bid.
6, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan (5-3).
7, Zama American, Japan (13-5).
8, Academy of Our Lady of Guam (season complete).
9, Taejon Christian International (9-5).
10, Yokota (8-8).
Published: February 3, 2010
He's better known for his kicking on the gridiron, a powerful left leg that serves as a one-man field-position determiner -- 75 percent of his kicks either went for touchbacks or pinned opponents inside their 20. So, what is Kadena junior Aaron Ahner doing on the wrestling mat, and how has he become so successful so quickly? Click here to find out why.
Published: February 3, 2010
She may not be the tallest person in the world at 5-foot-1 1/2, but Yokota Panthers sophomore guard Erika Ettl plays like a giant on the basketball court, even when facing box-and-one, double- and triple-team defenses. Click here to read her story.