Published: February 28, 2011
Word from Yongsan Garrison this morning is that the Pacificwide interservice softball tournament, which had been staged at the Lombardo Field FourPlex every Memorial Day weekend but one since it took over the event in 1991, has been canceled by the garrison's command.
Few details available at this point. Am working on trying to find out as many answers as possible, why the event was canceled, who made the decision to do so, where the tournament might move to, if it does move, etc.
Ahh, and what a part of Pacific military sports history that tournament is/was. What one dubbed the "Mecca of Softball" began as a small fastpitch tournament in 1967 at Naval Communications Station, Philippines.
It stayed that way until the base's firebrand athletics director, Geoff Denight, a Vietnam War veteran and native of Guam, took that tournament by the horns and made it into an annual softball extravaganza.
As many as 38 teams attended the event in 1986, and in its glory years teams would travel from as far as Diego Garcia and Hawaii to play. Too many players to be billeted indoors, so they created a "tent city" much like when the base served as a receiving station for Vietnam refugees in 1975. Staff civil would stretch electric lines and people would bring refrigerators, even wide-screen TVs for the week-plus-long event.
Political events -- mainly the Dec. 1, 1989, coup attempt against the Aquino administration -- sounded the death knell for the tournament in the Philippines.
Bennie Jackson, Yongsan's longtime athletics director, picked up the tournament starting in 1991 and it's been played at Lombardo Field FourPlex ever since.
There, it served as the first leg of the Pacific's interservice Grand Slam circuit, and also as a proving/testing ground for players hoping to someday play at the All-Armed Forces level, and for those who've already been there to sharpen their game.
Officials at Dragon Hill Lodge -- which is always full that weekend -- tell me that the tournament is the hotel's most profitable, from capacity to concessions such as the slots. Sports beverages, hamburgers and hot dogs are devoured by the caseful at the ballpark's various shelters. Players from as far away as Europe have annually shelled out thousands of dollars to attend the four-day event.
Sad to say, those days are likely over, unless another facility takes over the tournament, as Camp Casey did in 2002 when Lombardo was being renovated.
Published: February 28, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer readies the outdoor glass, snaps on the soccer stag straps and is grateful that the only countdown with any meaning in this lifetime has finally been completed, only to look outdoors and view the miserable Tokyo weather:
-- If you think Kubasaki’s boys basketball team, winners of two Far East Division I Tournament titles in five years and their Pacific-record 10th, is one-and-done with Kai Yamaguchi and Kentrell Key departing, think again. Eight players return next season, and coach Jon Fick has formed strong family ties to the island and isn’t going anywhere.
-- Kadena, third place at D-I, is just as young and experienced and is returning a large cadre off of its current roster next season, although losing two-time All-Far East forward Jason Sumpter will be a huge blow. Ray Broughton and Robert Bliss are a good fit, and the Panthers will be able to build a solid unit around returning forward All-Far East forward Jaylen Street.
-- Don’t expect Seoul American to steal back away quietly into the night; the Falcons have five returning players.
-- Assuming Warren Manegan returns for his senior season, expect Yokota to be solid again. In fact, both the Yokota boys and girls should be rock solid again, with Erika Ettl returning for her senior year. Yokota’s boys and girls rebounded smartly from moribund performances in Hong Kong to finish 28-13 and 30-6.
-- One might assume that with two-time D-I MVP Liz Gleaves, West Point-bound Jordan Elliott and Destinee Harrison graduating and coach Billy Ratcliff seeking a transfer that Seoul American’s girls might fall off some. Don’t count on it. Mecca Perkins should return, and the Falcons’ JV went unbeaten.
-- It could very easily be Yokota vs. two-time runner-up Faith Academy for the Girls D-I title next year, with Ettl and Vanguards senior guard Grace Fern to be the marquee matchup. Good individual talent in both lineups and each plays together well as a unit.
-- Of all the Final Four teams in the Division I Tournaments, my guess is that Kadena’s girls will be hurting the most next season; they lose Anissa Fitz and Jasmine Pressley to graduation and junior guard Desirae Seals departs this summer.
-- Among the more surprising developments of the week was what happened to Hong Kong International’s boys. They played eventual champion Kubasaki close in the tournament’s opening game, then on Wednesday suffered a stunning last-second 35-33 defeat on Nile C. Kinnick’s Josh Adair’s putback as time ran out. The next day, the Dragons took a 55-42 lead on Christian Academy Japan … then scored nary a point in the fourth quarter and lost 57-55.
-- Then again, it may not be that surprising, in that Hong Kong plays a vastly different style than most of the other teams at Far East are used to (re: international rules, 24-second clock, 8-second timeline, vs. NFHS rules used in Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Guam).
-- Speaking of which, while the no-shot-clock rule and 30-point mercy rule are standardized for all the Far East tournaments, the latter needs to be standardized for each league in the Pacific. The Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam has no mercy rule. Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference invokes the mercy rule when the lead stretches to 40 points, the Okinawa Activities Council 35 and DODDS Japan 30. Hard to imagine any group of officials making heads or tails of things when you have so many versions of the mercy rule.
-- Then, how about Faith Academy and Kadena in the girls D-I semifinal clash. Kadena led 26-23 with 6:30 left in the third quarter … and didn’t score another point over the next 11:10, while the Vanguards poured on the points – 24 in a row, to be exact.
-- Note to IIAAG coaches approaching the spring girls basketball season: Put a hand in the face of Brianna Benito of Academy of Our Lady of Guam and Briana DelGado of Okkodo any time either steps back of the three-point line. If you don’t, they’ll make you pay. Bri’s Threes, I call them.
-- Officials at Naval Hospital Guam probably blinked their eyes in surprise when they saw not just one, but two American School In Japan girls players enter the emergency room nursing injuries to the same arm (left). Katrina Heiberg suffered a sprained wrist and Liz Thornton a dislocated elbow.
-- Annoying work moment of the week: Trying to contact student-journalist Kira Reyman during and after Friday’s Boys D-I semifinals by cell phone and constantly getting interrupted by a recording that went: “This is the Orote multifunction switch. Your call has not been completed. Please try again later. Thank you.” Well, DUH! What gave THAT away, Dick Tracy?
-- Annoying travel moment of the week: Does anybody at A.B. Won Pat Airport ever bother cleaning the chairs and carpets in the departure lounges? Talk about F-I-L-T-H-Y.
Mark: Plus 1.
Published: February 28, 2011
Much has been said about the possibility of a “true” Far East high school boys basketball championship winner-take-all showdown between Division I Tournament champion Kubasaki, ranked No. 2 by SportsBlog Nation, and No. 1 Morrison Academy, winner of its third straight Division II Tournament title.
Imagine, the speed, agility and quickness of the Dragons’ Kai Yamaguchi, Ryan Jackson, C.J. Crenshaw, A.J. Watson and the like, against the tall Mustangs trees, including veterans Joel McKinlay and coach Dan Robinson’s son, Sean.
My good friend Dan Beaver has on more than one occasion said the ECO Center in Boracay could be made available for such a showdown, though, naturally, money and time spent out of school – the two entities already missed a week due to Far East – would very much be issues.
So, how about SportsBlog Nation conduct its own winner-take-all showdown, Morrison vs. Kubasaki, mano-a-mano, no holds barred, all cards face up on the table and everything at stake? Right here in cyber world?
The two teams didn’t meet each other this season; only one common opponent did the two face, with the Dragons beating Taipei American 90-52 in November in Hong Kong and the Mustangs crushing the Tigers 104-41 at Taipei in early January.
I’m sure somebody had to have seen both Morrison and Kubasaki play at one point during the season. But even if you didn’t, who do you think would win such a showdown?
The game would be conducted under the same rules that governed the Far East tournaments, modifield National Federation of State High School Association rules, with no shot clock, a 10-second timeline and a five-second closely-guarded rule.
It wouldn’t be the first such final conducted inside these hallowed walls, and it most certainly won’t be the last.
Your thoughts? Who would win this showdown? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but keep it civil and remember, you’ve entered THE “No-Hate Zone.” ^_^
Published: February 27, 2011
Sorry to keep y’all waiting, folks; we delayed the championship bouts until the day after Far East basketball. Had some logistical issues that kept me tied up.
Anyway, here they are, the championship bouts in the tournament to end all tournaments, the second SportsBlog Nation wrestle-offs to determine the best 13 wrestlers of the last 30 years.
Current FILA freestyle rules apply. And away we go!
Published: February 27, 2011
1, Morrison Academy, Taiwan, 35-0, first at D-II. As perfect a season as coach Dan Robinson can ever ask, mercy-ruled all but one team at Far East D-II.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 41-8, first at D-I. Now, can we play the "winner-take-all" showdown, Mustangs vs. Dragons, at Boracay?
3, Seoul American, 36-8, second at D-I. Looks as if last season’s 15th-place finish was a mere aberration. "We’re back," says coach Steve Boyd. He’s right.
4, Kadena, Okinawa, 26-17, third at D-I. Solid finish for Sumpter, Street, Skylar & Co.
5, Yokota, Japan, 28-13, fourth at D-I. Shared the Kanto title, kept the huge roll going until D-I semifinals.
6, St. Paul Christian, 7-2, second at D-II. That Morgan Aiken and Kory Borja are a handful.
7, Nile C. Kinnick, 18-17, fifth at D-I. Closed with a rush, including a huge buzzer-beating upset of Hong Kong.
8, Robert D. Edgren, Japan, 25-6, third at D-II. Best DODDS finish at D-II.
9, Guam High, 12-7, seventh at D-I. Kaleb Mitchell is the real deal.
10, Christian Academy Japan, 17-12, eighth at D-I. Sharing Kanto Plain title keeps Knights in the top 10.
1, Seoul American, 27-2, first at D-I. Unquestionably the best starting five this tournament has seen since Faith Academy in 1998.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines, 24-6, second at D-I. Grace & Kelly show came one win away from gold-medal glory.
3, St. Paul Christian, Guam, 7-2, first at D-II. As usual, guards did the damage, Momoko Ennis, Sam Nauta and Jaymee Cruz.
4, Yokota, Japan, 30-6, third at D-I. Strong finish, avenged earlier-season losses to Hong Kong and Kadena at Far East.
5, Kadena, Okinawa, 14-18, fourth at D-I. Once more, ignore the win-loss record; this was a solid performance emblematic of the entire season, not just a Far East tournament rush.
6, Daegu American, 25-12, second at D-II. Gallant performance by the senior triad of Bergman-Robinet-Kwon; just one win short.
7, Academy of Our Lady of Guam, 5-3, fifth at D-I. Memo to opposing coaches re: Bri’s Threes: Do NOT let Brianna Benito spot up behind the arc. She will smoke you.
8, American School In Japan, 14-6, sixth at D-I. Might have finished a step or so higher had not Katrina Heiberg and Liz Thornton not each suffered a left-arm injury.
9, Hong Kong International, 18-6, seventh at D-I. Solid finish with point guard Stefanie Young back in the lineup.
10, Simon Sanchez, Guam, 5-3, eighth at D-I. With super sophs Kristine Redolozo and Kiana Castro and junior sharpshooter Virlynn Gustilo in the lineup, Sharks will give folks problems this spring.
Think this is all a bunch of hooey? Think you have a better Top 10 to offer? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but keep it civil and remember, you’ve entered THE "No-Hate Zone." J
Published: February 26, 2011
Kubasaki 70, Seoul American 58
Seoul American 47, Faith Academy 39
Published: February 25, 2011
Seems as if we arrive at this juncture every year. Always a source of lively banter – and at times plenty of angst – is the debate over who deserves the Most Valuable Player award of a Far East high school basketball tournament.
Must the player come from the championship team? Is it the player with the best statistics? Is it the player who comes through with big play after big play, no matter where that team ends up in the standings?
One glance at the All-Tournament team for the just-completed Far East Division II tournaments reveals a couple of eye-openers. Senior John Ayers of Matthew C. Perry, which finished sixth in the field of 10, earned the boys MVP award, coming from the lowest-placing team since Brieanna Carroll of seventh-place Pusan American earned the honor in 2004.
Then, there was Kristina Bergman, the senior center who won the tournament’s Top Gun award for leading scorer (16 points) and Top Rebounder (11.4) honors and led the host and last year’s champion Daegu American Warriors to a runner-up finish.
So, let the debate begin.
My take: By strict definition, MVP means exactly what it says: Player most valuable to his or her team. Take that player away and what would happen to that team, etc.
Published: February 25, 2011
Much was said – and not much of it kindly by coaches – in the wake of the last-minute schedule change that reconfigured the pairings of the Far East Boys and Girls Division I Basketball Tournament semifinals on Friday. Coaches went home Thursday thinking they were playing one opponent, then arrived at the Charles King and Coral Reef Fitness & Sports Centers on Big Navy and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, finding they were playing another.
Don Hobbs, the DODDS Pacific Far East athletics coordinator, issued a mea culpa to the coaches involved in the games, stating that he and tournament organizers had used an incorrect listing that had the winners of Games 13 and 14 scheduled to meet in one semifinal and Games 15 and 16 in the other. The correct methodology, included in the tournament's original program, had Games 13 and 15 winners meeting in one semifinal and Games 14 and 16 in the other.
That meant Yokota’s girls went up against Seoul American instead of Faith Academy and Kadena battled Faith instead of Seoul American. In the boys semis, Kubasaki faced off with Yokota instead of Seoul American, and Kadena battled Seoul American instead of Yokota.
"Never in all my years of coaching at Far East have I ever entered the gym for the semifinals not knowing who I was going to be playing, what time and which colored uniforms we’d be wearing," one coach grumbled. "Change is good if it isn’t constant, and here, it’s been constant," muttered another.
Yes, there have been problems in having the Division I tournaments hosted here on Guam. Many things could have been done differently, starting with ensuring enough local referees could get base access to officiate all the games without having to fly in reinforcements from elsewhere, to procuring local off-base venues for the semifinals and finals such as University of Guam or Phoenix Center, ensuring enough buses are available to meet the demands of conveying teams 15 miles from the hotel to Big Navy and 10 to Andersen and back.
And the problems are not insurmountable. They can be fixed with enough advance planning, procurement, requisitioning, etc. Never should one assume, "Oh, it will get done by somebody, I’m sure." Chances are, it won’t.
Yes, the original tournament program, the one pitting Games 13 and 15 winners and Games 14 and 16 winners in the semifinals, should have been followed.
But on the other hand, shouldn’t the fact that coaches left the gym Thursday preparing their teams for one opponent been weighed before reversing course on Friday and leaving coaches less than an hour to prepare for another opponent?
I guess you won’t hear the semifinal winners complaining, and they also have a point. "You come to Far East and you play seven games and you have to win seven games to win the tournament," one coach said. "No matter who you have to play, you have to be ready to play."
Truthfully, I entered the week festered in doubt that the tournaments could be held concurrently on Guam. But as the week progresses and I keep talking with people genuinely concerned about ensuring the tournaments run smoothly and don’t encounter problems, in a way, I’m kind of rooting for Guam to keep them, as long as the problems experienced this year don’t resurface next year.
Published: February 24, 2011
There's been a change to Friday's semifinal schedule in the Far East Girls Division I Basketball Tournament at Charles King Fitness & Sports Center, Naval Base, Guam.
Yokota will play Seoul American at 3 p.m. and Faith Academy faces Kadena at 4:30 p.m. Guam time.
Published: February 23, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer hits the wall, as usual, four days into the Far East High School Basketball Tournaments and begins the virtual crawl to Saturday’s finish line:
-- Mercy rule, should there or should there not be one during the Far East tournaments? In theory, the rule is there to prevent clearly superior teams from running up too wide a margin on less-than-superior squads. But especially the first two days of pool play, what if a team is squarely facing a three-way tie for a top seed and needs to score points to help its point differential, but can’t because it already has a 30-point lead on its opponent? The boys Division I coaches voted squarely on the side of points and the mercy rule was scrapped but only for pool play; it was reinstated for the elimination round. The girls Division I coaches, on the other hand, kept the rule for the entire tournament. Thankfully, no three-way ties were encountered in any of the four tournaments.
-- As to enforcing the mercy rule throughout the Pacific, in which the clock becomes a running clock, starters must be removed, leading team may not either press nor run fast breaks, there should be some sort of set standard. The Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference’s demarcation line for mercy-rule enforcement is a 40-point lead. Okinawa … it can vary; I’ve seen some games go mercy rule at 35 points, others at 40, others at 30. Japan, mercy rule is effective at 30 points, with regulation clock resuming when the lead dwindles to 20 or less. Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam has no mercy rule. There should be some happy medium we can agree to.
-- Holding Division I and Division II tournaments concurrently in the same locale is a noble idea in theory. Trying to hold the two Division I tournaments on Guam has proven a bit challenging, mainly because of the logistical challenges that housing the teams at off-base locations and busing them 20 minutes north to Andersen Air Force Base for the boys and 30 minutes south to Naval Base for the girls can cause. And both tournament directors are doing this for the first time, so it’s been a learning process. But the biggest headache was ensuring enough officials were available. The Marianas Sports Officials Association handled the Girls Division I Tournament, but officials from off-island had to be flown in for what I’m told was a $30,000 contract. That by itself may be enough that DODDS could decide to move one of the basketball tournaments off of Guam next year.
-- And one of the express purposes of holding the tournaments in one location won’t reach fruition this year – playing the boys and girls championship games back to back at one venue on Guam. The final games will take place at 2 p.m. Guam time at their host locations, Andersen and Big Navy. I understand the logistical concerns, mainly moving people, ID card holders and non-ID card holders, from base to base to see the two games. Somehow, some way, they could have found a way to stagger the finals start times to give people a chance to see both.
-- Old-time movie fans would love watching Faith Academy’s girls team play. Point guard Grace Fern and power forward Kelly Hardeman – the Grace and Kelly Show.
-- Great running into Faith’s "Three Wise Men," former Faith athletics directors Jeff Long and Dan Beaver and former girls basketball coach Phil DeHart. Great reminiscence over a Grand Slam breakfast Monday morning at the Denny’s in Tamuning.
-- Confidential to Martin Boudreau, president of the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam: There’s a reason why no IIAAG teams have won a Far East Girls Division I Tournament title since 1983, and why no Guam girls team has ever won a Far East Soccer Tournament title. Sure, the island championship is revered here on Guam. But until the league stops flip-flopping the girls basketball and soccer seasons and keeps the former in November and December and the latter in late spring, the IIAAG’s chances of winning either tournament are as slim as the chances of a snowball set loose on Marine Corps Drive at the Agana Loop at high noon. And I don’t speak just for myself. Listen to your coaches. To a man and woman, they agree with me.
-- Up at Andersen and around the courts at Daegu American School and Camp Walker in Korea, you might note students wearing badges running hither and thither with notepads and cameras, recording game results, then answering calls from a certain intrepid Typhoon ORNY from Guam, breathlessly awaiting the results of those games. A huge pat on the back to Team Warrior of Daegu American School, led by team chief Erika Brun, photographers Michelle Fox and Hana Noguchi and reporters Shelby Dickerson, Justin Zillmer, Sean Baker, Alexis Kimble, Sean and Ryan Lattanzi and Aaron Combs; and to Team Panther, Mike Delfin, Tori Guerrero, Kyra Reyman, Derick Murray and Alishia Fike for giving of their time and energy to help Stripes cover all four tournaments. ORNY may be the engine that drives the coverage; you guys are the energy that fuels the engine. As Richard Rodgers, the former yearbook advisor at Zama American High School, once said: "The kids want to do it," when it comes to getting experience and work they otherwise wouldn’t get in the classroom. "It’s we adults who have to get out of the way and let them do it."
-- Spitfire Award: To Southern sophomore guard Paige Surber – perhaps the most popular player at the Girls Division I Tournament – and Robert D. Edgren junior guard Jen Black. They’re skilled guards in basketball, but their first love is soccer … and the boundless energy they show on the hardwood reflects their lack of a need for lungs or a gas tank when they’re on the soccer field. They never seem to get tired. The day before Far East began, you could find Surber playing in a Guam Football Association Bud Light soccer league game for women, scoring a goal late in the first half to lead Quality past Strykers 3-1. And Black, just as I have been, is counting down the days to the first official DODDS Pacific soccer practice (Monday).
-- Eatery of the Week: Denny’s. Two words: Default setting. At least on Guam. J
Published: February 22, 2011
Intriguing playoff matchups to watch now that the elimination rounds of the Far East High School Basketball Tournaments are upon us:
Girls Division II
-- Note how the double-elimination championship-bracket first round, pitting the bottom-rung teams cross-bracketed out of each of the pools, includes just DODDS Japan teams. Robert D. Edgren vs. E.J. King and Zama American vs. Matthew C. Perry. These four teams were just together three weeks ago at Yokota for the DODDS Japan tournament. Now, they travel all the way to Daegu just to face each other again.
-- Osan American vs. Morrison Academy, championship bracket second round; two teams who are very familiar with each other, having faced each other over and over again in D-II basketball, soccer and volleyball playoffs. And the Cougars hold a decided edge in victories over the Mustangs in all three.
Boys Division II
-- Yongsan International-Seoul vs. International Christian-Uijongbu, championship bracket first round, a meeting of former sister schools in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference.
-- Games 2 and 3 of the championship bracket mirror the first two games of the Girls D-II Tournament, more meetings of teams who faced each other in the DODDS Japan tournament. Edgren vs. Zama, E.J. King vs. M.C. Perry. And likewise, Game 4 is a battle of teams who faced each other twice in the regular season, but not in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I tournament earlier this month, Osan and Daegu American.
Boys Division I
-- Kadena vs. Christian Academy Japan, championship bracket round of 16. Despite CAJ’s pool-play record (0-3), this will be anything but easy for the defending champion Panthers; the Knights went 9-1 in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, tied with Yokota for the league title.
-- Simon Sanchez vs. Okkodo, championship bracket round of 16. Rematch of last year’s third-place game; looks like they won’t waste time knocking out one of two surprise Final Four teams from the 2010 tournament.
Girls Division I
-- Faith Academy vs. Kubasaki, championship bracket round of 16. These are two teams that have pretty much adopted each other over the years, a friendship begun in 2009 when former Dragons superstar Gabby Falco befriended the Vanguards, and they just sort of became attached to each other.
Published: February 20, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer basks in the warm environs of the emerald island of Guam and prepares … no, braces … for the Far East High School Division I Basketball Tournaments:
-- Now that St. Mary’s International has practically run the table in all boys competitions in Far East High School sports tournaments since the fall, what does that say for the decision to restore international –school eligibility in individual sports such as tennis, cross country and wrestling? It says: "To the rest of the Far East: You are on notice – either ramp up your game or get left behind. International schools are here to stay. The DODDS-only days of legislated paper gold medals are gone and the cavalry is not coming back. Time to pull up the bootstraps and show what stuff you’re made of.
-- Heavyweight Chidi Agbo and the Titans’ outdistancing Kadena 69-52 in the Far East wrestling tournament individual freestyle team standings and edging the Panthers 31-27 in the dual-meet final is just the latest triumph for the denominational school in southwest Tokyo. Kent Shikama and Stephan Byland dominated the Far East boys tennis tournament singles and doubles titles, while Kelly Langley pulled off an unofficial "triple crown" in cross country.
-- Certainly, the Titans are the "it" boys sports program of the current school year.
-- And keep in mind, Shikama is just a freshman and isn’t going anywhere. And coach Ian Harlow only loses three seniors off his wrestling team.
-- Are these good times to be a Titan or what?
-- Confidential to Jon Rhodes: If you’re reading this, know that I wish you could have been there to see the whole thing unfold.
-- Those individual freestyle gold-medal bouts should have been entitled "Redemption Wednesday." Six of eight returning silver medalists enjoyed that oh, so sweet taste of victory, rising up to the top of the podium to accept those long-awaited gold medals. Among them, Kubasaki’s Matt Payne (180), Steven Walter (101) and Jon Goddard (141), Kadena’s Aaron Ahner (215) and Jacob Bishop (148) and Yokota’s Devin Day (135).
-- They talk about how rare it is for a wrestler to win four Far East gold medals; only two have done so. But how about Bishop, who may likely be the only wrestler ever to finish fourth, third, second and first in his four Far Easts?
-- But how many times have we seen it, a Far East individual freestyle gold medalist get his come-uppance in the dual-meet tournament the next day? And how many unexpected rise-ups you see among heretofore punching bags?
-- Call it "Turnabout Thursday." Try St. Mary’s Brendan Hymas decision over Bishop in the dual-meet final, a day after Bishop beat Hymas for the gold? Or Kadena’s David Hernandez (101) finally getting his first victory of the season over Walter? Then, there was David Knight, Kadena’s 168-pounder, finally beating Kubasaki’s Fred Suniga after the latter owned him most of the season.
-- Blog post interruption: For you old-timers, Knight happens to be the son of David Knight the former AFN Eagle 810-AM disc jockey from the 1990s, the guy they called "Knight in the Morning." The elder is now a DODDS teacher on Okinawa.
-- Perhaps the most famous instance of freestyle-to-dual-meet turnabout took place the second year of the dual-meet tournament, 1996. Kubasaki’s Justin L. Miller flopped Nile C. Kinnick’s Mike Gamboa all around the ring for the individual gold, then later that same day, Gamboa handed Miller – the first four-time Far East gold medalist – the only loss of his high-school career in the dual-meet finals.
-- Not often do you see a dual-meet final come down to the heavyweights, as was the case when Agbo rallied to beat Kadena’s Gabe Ahner in Thursday’s championship meet. And not often do you see a heavyweight lift another into the air for a three-point throw. Agbo’s soon-to-be-YouTube sensation (well, OK, maybe not; a quick search turned up nothing) should have been scored a five-point throw. Automatic tech. Game, set, gold medal to St. Mary’s.
-- Confidential to Faith Academy and Morrison Academy athletics directors Kathy Wassell and Don Dwight: It’s time for you to roll the mats out of storage and dust off the singlets. Your schools used to have dynamite wrestling programs until DODDS slammed the door in your face seven years ago. Now, the door is open. Wide open. Time to get the fellers who’ve moved onto other things such as rugby back into the wrestling room. I’m sure Faith’s old coach, Steve Schwarze, would happily get back into the room and develop the next generation of Jon Barrs.
-- Good point raised by Guam High coach Joe Taitano at the Boys D-I Basketball Tournament coaches’ meeting Sunday at the Bayview Hotel: If a coach is facing the possibility of a three-team tie in pool play and needs to up his team’s point differential by scoring more, but can’t because his team is leading by 30 or more points, at which point the mercy rule kicks in, his starters must come out, no fast breaks, no pressing … and loses out on a top seed as a result … a Catch 22 of the worst order. The same issue had been discussed at the pre-tournament coaches’ meeting last year at Yokota, but apparently nothing has been done to change it.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week: Gotta love the bus lane on the Kyongbu Expressway in South Korea. Cuts the time from Humphreys to Yongsan in half.
-- Next wonder of the world: Viewing while training it to Narita, Tokyo’s new Sky Tree tower, soon to be the tallest man-made structure in Japan, I can’t help but wonder how it will revolutionise communications, TV, satellite and online, in the coming years. I know this: I would never want to be caught on top of that thing in a high wind; I have enough trouble with heights aboard an airliner.
Published: February 19, 2011
Final roster is out and oh, does Team USA bring plenty of firepower to the table in the March 12 renewal of the Camellia Bowl, a friendship football contest between the best of American and DODDS schools in the Kanto Plain and Okinawa and a collection of top Japanese players from Kanagawa Prefecture. Kickoff is at noon at Kawasaki Stadium.
The game played last March was big enough to attract a former Japanese prime minister and the U.S. ambassador to Japan. Don’t expect this one to be any less of a glamour attraction, but do expect it to be much closer despite a collection of stars and stats that read like a true collection of all-stars.
First, you have Speed Inc., two-time Far East Division I champion Kadena’s Thomas McDonald (1,033 yards, 19 touchdowns, 99 carries) and Shariff Coleman (1,148, 14, 110), coupled with Pacific-leading rusher Deon Lewis (117, 15, 1,221) and receiver Brandon Crawford (34 catches, 8 touchdowns, 708 yards) of Kubasaki.
They’re joined by Zama American’s two bruising fullbacks, senior Michael Spencer (152, 11, 1,122) and Andre Encarnacion (67 carries, 416 yards), along with speedster Devin Day of Yokota (201, 23, 1,133). Add a dash of American School In Japan Mustangs Hayden Jardine (51-for-99, 1,131 yards, 14 touchdowns), Nathan Kwon (95, 5, 582), Sam Hopkins (15 catches, 5 touchdowns, 351 yards) and Andrew Stern (17, 3, 337 yards) and you’ve got plenty to deal with.
Here’s the rest of the roster:
Nile C. Kinnick—Quinton Holden, Richard Villareal, Kyle DeLeon, Dustin Kimbrell, Alex Kimbrell, Aaron Stravers, Ralph Villareal, Randolph Villareal, David de los Santos.
Zama American—Matt Cole, Mitchell Harrison, Roland Cote, Jonathan Neyland.
Yokota—Myles Andrews, Roosevelt Neely, Jordan Herrera, Morgan Breazell, Josh Chamberlain, Gabe Huizar, Jaden Hecker, Jake Jackson, Jesse Hogan, Scott Hanson.
American School In Japan—Joey Ferrero, Leo Benus, Jeremy Wisoff.
Kadena—James Nollie, Gabe Ahner, Aaron Ahner, Tem Gutierrez.
Kubasaki—LaDarius Ball, Patrick Snowman.
I can’t wait to see this.
Published: February 19, 2011
In no way do I consider myself an expert on such matters, nor am I an educator or school administrator. So , let me post this as an impartial observer of Far East high school sports tournaments for the last 31 years, who sees the ones that work well and ones that don’t, ones that are a good match for a particular school or area and others that aren’t. Here are some suggestions for where School Year 2011-12’s DODDS-Pacific Far East High School Tournament should be held, and why:
Football Division II—It should mirror the proposed plan for Division I, perhaps starting in fall of 2012. Implement a two-tiered playoff rather than just one winner-take-all final. Korea No. 1 hosts Japan No. 2 and vice versa, hosted by the team with the better win-loss record among Division II schools in each area, with the title game two weeks later at the team with the better win-loss record.
Football Division I—All four semifinalists at one neutral site is out, and a new plan is in place. Over a four-week span, play-in games between the No. 2 teams in Okinawa and Japan vs. Seoul American and Guam High on a rotating bases take place in early October. Semifinal games two weeks later pitting the winners of those game vs. Japan’s and Okinawa’s No. 1 teams, hosted by the better win-loss team. Second Saturday in November, the semifinal winners meet at the team with the better win-loss record.
Alternate plan would be to have the Divisions I and II title games in the same location as they do with the Super Six in Europe.
Tennis—Stays put. Kadena’s Risner Tennis Complex, with its 11 side-by-side courts, is the perfect home for it and early November weather ideal for it.
Cross country—Stays put. Yokota and the Tama Hills Recreation Center are perfect partners.
Division II volleyball—Stays put. Robert D. Edgren did a beast job hosting it for the first time in eight years last fall.
Division I volleyball—Move it back to Guam. Perfect time of year for a sport that’s pretty much the island’s national game. Won’t be the tourist issues that the D-I basketball tournaments are experiencing now; February is a big tourist month for the island, while November isn’t.
Wrestling—Have it at Camp Humphreys’ Super Gym for one more year under garrison commander Col. Joe Moore’s watch. Then assume that his relief won’t be as engaged in high school sports as Moore is and move the tournament to Yokota or Nile C. Kinnick. Plenty of billeting, not as many schools traveling as most of the entrants are based on Japan’s main Honshu island and each school has much expertise in running such tournaments, Kinnick with the "Beast" and Yokota with the Kanto Plain finals.
D-II basketball—Stays put. Daegu American, with its partnership with Area IV Army Community Services is the perfect location despite the military commitments that forced all the teams to be lodged off post.
D-I basketball—Can be hosted by any number of locales. Yokota, Zama American and Kinnick could host both girls and boys tournaments with its court and billeting availability; Zama and Naval Air Facility Atsugi could partner with their combined four gyms, as could Yokota and 374th Force Support with the Temporary Lodging Facility moving to the west side next year and four available courts. Yokosuka’s Fleet Gym and Purdy Fitness & Sports Center have a combined four courts; billeting may be an issue if the fleet’s in.
Soccer—Ideally, DODDS-Pacific would benefit from having all four tournaments, boys and girls, D-I and D-II, on Okinawa. It can be done. There are fields everywhere, the officials are the best in the region (even the youngest linesman has more match experience than any in any other district) and if you can seriously partner Kadena’s 18th Force Support with DODDS Okinawa, you could hold the boys D-I tournament at Kubasaki High School, the girls D-I at Kadena High School and the boys and girls D-II tournaments at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School; it has a HUGE outdoor field that can be configured into two soccer fields. Failing that, Edgren and Matthew C. Perry High Schools are good alternate D-II sites; each has at least three fields; the question, as always, is billeting.
Baseball—Stays put at Zama and Atsugi.
Softball—Move it to Atsugi; two fields side by side and far less of a chance of rain than you have at the start of Okinawa’s rainy season.
Track and field—Stays put. Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium is the perfect home for it.
On the subject of wrestling, basketball and track, it is possible for an international school to one day provide the facility for any of them. American School In Japan, for example, has three gymnasiums on campus. You could billet the teams at Yokota and bus them each way; ASIJ would pick up the facility and officiating costs. Track-wise, Craig Eby and Christian Academy Japan could host at a site such as Kinuta Park or Oi Pier Ground in Tokyo; each has an eight-lane track, high-jump, long-jump and shot-put pits and a discus throwing cage. Billeting could be done at Atsugi and athletes bused each way. I bet it would work.
Published: February 19, 2011
It hasn’t been much of an issue since a Title IX complaint was filed in January 2007 by the parent of a Robert D. Edgren girls wrestler on behalf of another Eagles girls wrestler who was forced to forfeit her third-place bout in a Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools-sanctioned tournament the month before at Yokota High School. As its solution, Kanto merely scheduled its league-sanctioned tournaments as Kanto-only, leaving outlying schools such as E.J. King and Edgren to fend for themselves or participate in DODDS-Japan tournaments. Boys wrestling against girls has long been a bone of contention, girls, their parents and coaches saying they’re just like any other competitors; boys, their parents and coaches answering back, especially ones who hold to more fundamental religious views, that such physical contact between genders should not be permitted in the field of high school wrestling. The other day, Sports Illustrated posted a story about a home-schooled Christian Iowa boy, a serious contender for the state championship, forfeiting his scheduled bout against a girl and giving up his shot at a state gold medal. What do you, the reader, think? Have we long gotten past the issue of girls being on the mat with boys and do we simply view them as "just another opponent?" Or is there still room for an argument against?
Published: February 15, 2011
OK, campers, now that my Ouija board, tea leaves and crystal ball proved about as useless as a soccer rulebook at a tennis match, let me put my skills to the test once more as we gaze at the Final Four fields in all 13 weight classes at this week’s Far East High School Wrestling Tournament and what I forecast for tomorrow’s semifinals and championship bouts:
-- 101: Semifinals, Eric Otero of Zama American in a close three-period decision over Kaimi Miyazawa of St. Mary’s International, Steven Walter of Kubasaki dispatching Kadena’s David Hernandez in two periods. Championship, Walter gains vengeance for his finals defeat last year, but in a close two-period decision over Otero.
-- 108: Semifinals, Guam High’s Mark Haas in another nail-biting three-period duel with Seoul American’s Devin Furner, freshman Thomas Cioppa of Kadena in a surprise over St. Mary’s Haruka Onozaki. Championship, Cioppa scraps hard but comes up short, in a two-period victory for Haas.
-- 115: Semifinals, Soma Yoshida of St. Mary’s in two periods over Yokota’s Phillip Robles, Kubasaki’s Nick Barker taken to three periods before finally overcoming Bryan Taijeron of Guam High. Championship, Barker also sheds the bitter taste of runner-up-ism by three-period decision over Yoshida.
-- 122: Semifinals, Marcus Boehler of Nile C. Kinnick scores the first pin of the Final Four, downing Kubasaki’s Sean Mathis in the second period. Kelly Langley of St. Mary’s likewise dispatches Yokota’s Kai Novelli in the third period. Championship, Boehler makes it three gold medals in three years, but he doesn’t have it easy, needing three periods and a late tilt to beat Langley for the third time in four tries this season.
-- 129: An excellent weight class. Semifinals, Yuki Sorci of Yokota falls behind early but rallies for a three-period decision over Yuma Fuseya of Christian Academy Japan. Keith Johnson of Robert D. Edgren scores a mild upset in two periods over St. Mary’s JP Kwak. Championship, another nip-and-tuck battle with Sorci coming away with a three-period decision over Johnson. Noteworthy—Ornauer picked Seoul American’s Robert Rhea to win this weight class; he exited in the quarterfinals thanks to an upset win by Johnson.
-- 135: Perhaps the second-toughest weight class behind 215. Semifinals, Devin Day of Yokota has his hands full, but the 2009 129-pound champion prevails in three periods over Ethan Aguigui of Father Duenas Memorial; likewise, Mark Chase of Kubasaki and Eric Bush of Seoul American go at it hammer and tongs before Chase survives in the third period. Championship, Day pins Chase in the second period.
-- 141: Semifinals, Michael Litman of Yokota loses the first period to Father Duenas’ Bruce Julian before rallying for a second-period pin, Jon Goddard takes down St. Mary’s Shin Nishimura in the first period. Championship, Goddard finds the third time is the charm, knocking off Litman in a two-period decision.
-- 148: Semifinals, Jacob Bishop of Kadena risks it all again, using that reverse leg/crotch lift to decision Edgren’s Aric Butterfield in two periods; CAJ’s Jonathan Bartsch outlasts St. Mary’s Brendan Hymas in two periods. Championship, Bartsch catches Bishop in one of those leg tilts and pins him in the second period.
-- 158: Semifinals, Cory Peckins of Kadena doesn’t allow Seoul American’s Kenneth Butts to use that dangerous leg lace, attacking him off the bat for a first-period pin; Father Duenas’ Christopher Aguon also wastes little time pinning Guam High’s Brandon Saville. Championship, Aguon gives Guam High its first gold medal at that weight, in a three-period decision over Peckins.
-- 168: Semifinals, Michael Spencer pins St. Mary’s Jeffrey Koo – again – in the first period, while Fred Suniga of Kubasaki dispatches surprising Shogo Higashi of CAJ. Championship, Spencer makes it three straight golds with a pin over Suniga.
-- 180: Another excellent weight class. Semifinals, E.J. King’s Darnell Vinson works a two-period decision over Yokota’s Jesse Christmas, while in a real battle, Matt Payne ekes out a three-period decision over a determined Mitchell Harrison of Zama. Championship, Vinson ends Payne’s dream of senior gold with a three-period decision.
-- 215: It played out exactly the way we thought it would, a tough-as-a-bad-Porterhouse group. Semifinals, Daegu’s Daniel Saintil outmuscles Kinnick’s David de los Santos in three periods, while Kadena’s Aaron Ahner does the same to Edgren’s Matt Bernal in two. Championship, gold-medal city for the Panthers as the experienced Ahner outlasts Saintil in three periods.
-- Heavyweight: Semifinals, it’s the pairing Yokota’s Jesse Hogan wanted, but not the result, as St. Mary’s Chidi Agbo beats him again with a first-period pin; surprising Andrew Galvan of Guam High outpoints Kadena’s Gabe Ahner in three periods. Championship, Agbo captures gold for St. Mary’s with a second-period pin.
Think this is as full of hooey as my initial predictions? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but keep it civil and remember, you’ve entered THE "No-Hate Zone." J
Published: February 14, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer remembers why he said a year ago, "It is, indeed, a super gym:"
-- How great it was to see international-school teams suiting up in their singlets for Far East Wrestling Tournament competition on Monday morning! Once more part of the mix and once more we have what I’ll always believe to be a "true" state-championship flavor and atmosphere. St. Mary’s International and American School In Japan – with 10 combined team titles until they were unceremoniously shown the door after the 2004 tournament – along with Christian Academy Japan and Guam’s Father Duenas Memorial Friars. Welcome back! You were missed!
-- And what a great greeting given the international-school component by DODDS-Pacific director Diana Ohman during the opening ceremony. I couldn’t have said it better. And the class that the international-school teams displayed in thanking Ohman, DODDS Pacific athletics coordinator Don Hobbs and anybody else around … ever grateful for having the door open to them again.
-- I’ll say again: The international schools never should have gotten the boot from DODDS Pacific Far East tournaments for individual disciplines in the first place. I never bought the official explanation (budget, billeting and facility availability concerns) and swore to people at those schools that I would never rest until the door re-opened to them.
-- I only wish that Jon Rhodes, who preceded Ian Harlow as St. Mary’s coach and was recently named – quite deservedly – to Minnesota’s wrestling Hall of Fame, were there to see this.
-- Call it "Opening Unplugged." Monday’s opening ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. sharp … just as the electric power went off on the entire Camp Humphreys base. Tournament organizer David Hemmer, Ohman, Garrison commanding officer Col. Joseph Moore and Osan American High School principal Tim Erickson spoke without a microphone; Osan American senior Chelsi Foster and freshman Shane Rhobid performed the Korean (Ae Guk Ga) and American national anthems unplugged, a cappella. Beautifully done. And just as Super Gym’s Ray Nichols scrounged up four stop watches and tournament officials were preparing to do the event on paper … the power came back on at 10:50 a.m. Wrestling began 10 minutes later.
-- One of those international-school competitors came to Camp Humphreys with a heavy heart. Sophomore Kevin Miller of St. Mary’s lost his father, James R. Miller, last Thursday due to a heart condition; an antique dealer, he was 59. Though he left behind two younger brothers in care of a family acquaintance (Miller’s mother left the family when he was in the sixth grade), Miller said: "I wanted to come here and wrestle for my father. He died when we were getting ready for Far East. I thought this is what he would want me to do." Kevin is a self-styled blogger; click here to read. If he has a chance to add some entries this week, I’m sure they’ll be very heartfelt. My condolences to you, Kevin (as I type with damp eye). As I told you, don’t dwell too much on how your father died; remember how he lived, and all the special gifts and other things he left for you and your brothers. Know that your teammates love you and support you. And if you ever need to talk, you know where I am.
-- World War 215, as I’ve come to call it, didn’t disappoint during Monday’s pool-play bouts. From all appearances, a good six to eight wrestlers in that weight group have a shot at winning. The big surprise thus far is Daegu American’s Daniel Santil, who got Kubasaki’s Jacob Wood and Guam High’s Micah Hansen on Monday. The rest of the week should be incredible.
-- Monday’s bouts did exact a toll on the competitors. Five wrestlers exited with injuries, the most serious being a dislocated shoulder suffered by E.J. King’s Juan Juvera against Kubasaki’s Fred Suniga at 168 pounds.
-- You can definitely tell which wrestlers have a folkstyle background; they’re the ones who, after their opponent takes them down, try to reverse or escape their way out of the bottom. My advice: Don’t do it. Sprawl flat, body heavy and arms flat on the mat. And look away from lean into the opponent in the direction he’s trying to catch your chicken wing or work the half. In a few seconds, the referee will note there’s no action and will call you back to your feet. No riding time, escapes or reversals in freestyle.
-- What a long week-plus this has been for Ohman, who in her second year as DODDS-Pacific director has shown herself to be a very, very visible presence. After observing last week’s Far East drama festival in Seoul, she attended the first day of the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Girls Division I Basketball Tournament at Seoul American. There, she saw Falcons senior guard Jordan Elliott sign a national letter of intent to play basketball for West Point next season.
-- Sidebar to that tournament, and to clarify something not mentioned in Stripes’ tournament recap: It was Daegu American which removed its starters after Seoul American burst to a 10-0 lead en route to a 47-7 title-game triumph that was called with 3:01 left in the third period; substitutes played most of the rest of the way on each side, though starters did see some action after the Falcons went up by 30. "We had no intention of risking injury to our players in a lopsided game," said coach Michelle Chander, who along with her husband and assistant coach Darryl Chandler told Seoul American coach Billy Ratcliff what they intended before the game started. Chandler’s Warriors are the defending Far East Girls Division II Tournament champions; Seoul American is also going for its second straight Division I Tournament title. "Far East is our focus," Chandler said.
-- Earlier Saturday, Ohman absolutely floored me when she appeared at the KAIAC Boys Division I Tournament at an OFF-base location, Gyeonggi Suwon International School about 30 miles south of Seoul. "Hey, I have three teams in this tournament, too," she said. Stayed and watched Seoul American’s boys duplicate the girls’ feats. Made entirely welcome, she was, by tournament director Jeremy Thomas and his staff.
-- That’s called support, gang.
-- Speaking of which, ‘bout 11:30 a.m. Monday, Ornauer finds himself in dire straits. He’d just finished recording his two-minute "Okinawa Sports Spotlight" Monday segment for AFN Okinawa’s Wave 89, but had no way to send it. The "Free Public WiFi" and my computer weren’t communicating, and none of the Army computers in the Super Gym were capable of reading a USB device. "What do you need, Dave?" Col. Moore asked? A few minutes later, he and his driver cart me to the USO, where a couple of minutes later, Staff Sgt. Rachael Garneau of AFN Okinawa (aka Rach H) gets the recording via e-mail. And Col. Moore then carts Ornauer back TO the gym. Not many COs will do that for your rank-and-file reporter, especially when a visiting Korean dignitary was on post. Ever grateful to you, Colonel.
-- That’s called support, gang.
-- A tip of the hat, too, to all the Humphreys soldiers who volunteered their time Monday to do everything from mop mats to keep score at the official tables to run a concession near the Super Gym’s entrance. Your work has gone totally noticed!
-- Sure looks to me as if Yongsan International-Seoul’s boys basketball team drew up the blueprint for beating Osan American in Saturday’s KAIAC semifinal: Double-team center Jeff Tinsley and put a hand in the face of the perimeter shooters. Sure worked in the Guardians’ 43-42 win that sent them to the finals against Seoul American.
-- Never mind the lopsided nature of the girls title game: Daegu American’s girls won the two games that got them into the finals convincingly over Osan American and Seoul Foreign and appear primed to at least make a deep run at a second straight D-II title. Most definitely the seniors, who want to leave on a championship note and would do it in two sports so far this year, including volleyball.
-- And a rough weekend it was also for Osan’s girls, who got knocked out of the title chase in losing to SFS 45-40 and Daegu 47-36. The one silver lining to that is … whenever the Cougars have had a rough go in KAIAC, Far East has usually been good to them. Such was the case two years ago, when the Cougars won a D-II volleyball, basketball and soccer title trifecta.
-- That GSIS campus is quite the place! Turfed soccer field, 25-meter indoor pool and two basketball courts. Most of their teams play much like start-up operations and will need a few years to become competitive at the Division I level (they moved up this year), but if their soccer teams – which are quite good – can blaze the trail, it won’t take long.
-- Thomas is husband to former Christian Academy Japan star Natalie Nelson; they have three children, and at least one, 8-year-old Ezra, expressed interest in journalism (good man!). Natalie’s brother Phil – who nearly perished in a horrific accident some 10 years ago, but is fine now – is visiting his sister all the way from Buffalo, N.Y., and worked the score table the entire weekend. Then, there’s Andrew Wiese, the hero of Taejon Christian International’s boys soccer D-II Tournament title team; he’s now coaching boys soccer at GSIS.
-- Eatery of the week: For the second straight Far East wrestling tournament, Camp Humphreys’ Alaska Mining Co. Home of THE finest ham steak in the world, thick cut, bone in and utterly dee-licious. Salmon chowder quite tasty, New York steak quite tender. To my total disappointment, it was closed Monday evening. No doubt, come Mongolian Barbeque night on Thursday – by coincidence the night the tournament ends – will be very, very busy with teen-age boys and girls just itching to break their season-long fast.
-- And yes, Nile C. Kinnick 115-pound wrestler Miles Davis IS a musician (he's in Kinnick's show choir). You can't make up stuff like that. And yes, he gets ribbed for his name all the time, he says.
Published: February 13, 2011
At last, we've arrived at the start of that annual magical 11 days of non-stop wall-to-wall Far East High School Tournament action, starting with wrestling on Monday at the aptly-named Super Gym at South Korea’s Camp Humphreys.
Here’s a quick look, weight by weight, at what we'll be following as the four-day mat event unfolds. Please allow for last-minute weight-class move-ups and move-downs:
101 p0unds – His to lose: Steven Walter, Kubasaki. In the running: Jeff Pena, E.J. King; Eric Otero, Zama American; Kaimi Miyazawa, St. Mary’s International. Noteworthy—Walter is one of seven returning weight-class runners-up in this tournament.
108 – His to lose: Toss-up. In the running: Charles Campbell, Seoul American; Austin Cyr, Kubasaki; Thomas Cioppa, Kadena; Yurie Tanaka, Zama; Callan Murphy, American School In Japan; Chantz Yazzie, Yokota. Don’t sleep on: Tanaka or any other girl in the tournament. She won her first seven bouts by pin this season and took many a foe to three-period decisions.
115 – His to lose: Nick Barker, Kubasaki. In the running: Yuma Fuseya, Christian Academy Japan; Soma Yoshida, St. Mary’s; David Hernandez, Kadena; Miles Davis, Nile C. Kinnick; Phil Robles, Yokota. Best name: Miles Davis. Mr. Parker, does he play in your band? If not, he ought to just for the name’s sake. Noteworthy—Barker’s gold-medal bout loss last year had to be reviewed on videotape.
122—His to lose: Marcus Boehler, Kinnick. In the running: Kelly Langley, St. Mary’s; Cameron Namocott, Robert D. Edgren; Kevin Orr, Kubasaki; Kai Novelli, Yokota. Best name: Mark Tortillas, Osan American. Don’t sleep on: Jacob Scott, Zama. Freshman, father will be here for some time to come, will be a good one and could be right away. Noteworthy—Boehler is one of three returning weight-class champions. He’s 2-1 vs. Langley, who sat out last season.
129 – His to lose: Robert Rhea, Seoul American. In the running: Yuki Sorci, Yokota; JP Kwak, St. Mary’s; Marvin Newbins, Kinnick; Mark Chase, Kubasaki; Darren Perez, Guam High; Keith Johnson, Edgren. Aptly named: Chase. After all, isn’t that what they’re all doing?
135 – His to lose: Devin Day, Yokota. In the running: Austin Standridge, Kubasaki; James Bowman, Edgren; Bryan Hathaway, Seoul American; Abe Nakamura, CAJ; Nick Jorgenson, Zama; Edward Moore, Osan. Don’t sleep on: The Korea guys. They’ll surprise you. Noteworthy—Day won the gold in 2009 and came up short last year.
141 – His to lose: Jon Goddard, Kubasaki. In the running: Cody Scherrer, Edgren; Xavian Washburn, Daegu American; Christian Spotanski, Guam High; Nick Veit, Kadena; Ryan Hollands, CAJ; Michael Litman, Yokota. Don’t sleep on: Washburn or Litman. Noteworthy: It’s now or never for Goddard, who’s earned silver and bronze the last two years.
148 – His to lose: Jacob Bishop. In the running: Jonathan Bartsch, CAJ; Jonathan Philley, Daegu; Aric Butterfield, Edgren; Jhellani Olton, Kubasaki; Eric Bush, Seoul American. Don’t sleep on: Again, the Korea guys; Bush decisioned Bishop in the dual-meet phase of last month’s "Rumble on the Rock." Noteworthy—Again, now or never for Bishop; he holds "Rumble" and "Beast of the Far East" gold medals, but has one last chance to come up big at Far East.
158 – His to lose: Cory Peckins, Kadena. In the running: Stanley Speed, Yokota; Kenneth Butts, Seoul American; Brendon Hymas, St. Mary’s; Drew Knowles, Edgren; Andrew Stern, ASIJ; Zach Smoker, CAJ; Devin Turner, Osan. Noteworthy—Peckins is in his third different-coloured singlet in three seasons; he wrestled for Osan in 2008-09 and Zama last year.
168 – His to lose: Michael Spencer, Zama. In the running: Joe Durham, Seoul American; Fred Suniga, Kubasaki; David Knight, Kadena; Joel Balmforth, Edgren. Don’t sleep on: Durham. One tough customer, despite few regular-season bouts.
180 – His to lose: Darnell Vinson, E.J. King. In the running: Matt Payne, Kubasaki; Michael Johnson, Edgren; Alex Pflaum, ASIJ; Mitchell Harrison, Zama; Sean Ward, St. Mary’s. Don’t sleep on: Harrison. The general’s son, he’s in his first year of freestyle wrestling, but is awfully strong.
215 – His to lose: Toss-up. In the running: Aaron Ahner, Kadena; Jacob Wood, Kubasaki; Kevin Miller, St. Mary’s; Aaron Park, Seoul American; David de los Santos, Kinnick; Andrew Cavalier, Zama; Jake Jackson, Yokota; Ian Cockerel, E.J. King; Micah Hansen, Guam High; Matthew Bernal, Edgren; Daniel Santil, Daegu. Don’t sleep on: Santil. If he had more than just eight weeks of freestyle experience, he’d be unstoppable. Noteworthy—Perhaps the deepest, sounded and most experienced weight class in Far East tournament history; has already become known to some observers as World War 215.
Heavyweight – His to lose: Chidi Agbo, St. Mary’s. In the running; Gabe Ahner, Kadena; Jordan Cotts, Edgren; Jesse Hogan, Yokota; Andrew Galvan, Guam High.
Have some story lines of your own? Let me know what you think! Be true to your school, but keep it civil and remember, you’ve entered THE "No-Hate Zone." J
Published: February 13, 2011
OK, folks, pull up a bleacher seat for the semifinal bouts in SportsBlog Nation's second mythical tournament, to crown the Best 13 Pacific high school wrestlers of the past three decades.
Championship bouts are next Sunday. And we'll also crown our Outstanding Wrestler of the past quarter century.
Published: February 13, 2011
1, Morrison Academy, Taiwan, 25-0. Last time a team was such a prohibitive favorite at the D-II Tournament, Faith Academy lost on a buzzer beater to E.J. King in 1997.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 33-8. Final Far East D-I Tournament tune-up a blowout win over Okinawa Shogyo.
3, Kadena, Okinawa, 21-15. Final Far East D-I Tournament tune-up a close loss at Kitanakagusuku.
4, Seoul American, 30-7. Final Far East D-I Tournament tune-up a Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference D-I tournament title-game blowout win over Yongsan International-Seoul.
5, Hong Kong International, 14-3. Still idle since since China Cup.
6, Faith Academy, Philippines, 16-5. Micah Seaborn suffered a bruised MCL, held out of practice and expected to play in the D-1 Tournament.
7, Yokota, Japan, 22-11. Still on a roll since Hong Kong.
8, Robert D. Edgren, Japan, 19-3. Righted the ship after the DODDS Japan tournament meltdown.
9, Christian Academy Japan, 15-5. Big home showdown Tuesday for Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools regular-season title.
10, Yongsan International-Seoul, 14-6. KAIAC D-I Tournament finals appearances knocks Guam High out of rankings.
1, Seoul American, 20-2. Referred to by one KAIAC D-I Tournament opposing coach as a "dream team" which "probably could win the boys Far East tournament."
2, Faith Academy, Philippines, 18-5. Idle last week; Guam and Far East D-I Tournament next..
3, Yokota, Japan, 22-4. Yet another victory keeps Panthers unbeaten since Hong Kong
4, Hong Kong International, 12-4. One game last week against less-than-strong rival.
5, Kadena, Okinawa, 9-16. Panthers continue to resemble last year’s team; Shari Moss playing solidly.
6, American School In Japan, 9-3. Don’t count these guys out on Guam.
7, Daegu American, South Korea, 17-10. Proved their fitness, ability to defend D-II title by reaching KAIAC D-I Tournament finals.
8, Osan American, South Korea, 13-6. Lost rubber match in season series to Daegu 47-36 at KAIAC D-I Tournament.
9, E.J. King, Japan, 12-10. Don’t look now, but a Cobra is sneaking up on the D-II Tournament field.
10, Robert D. Edgren, Japan, 11-9. Haven’t sparkled lately, but could surprise at D-II Tournament.
Next ratings after Far East Tournaments end.
Published: February 9, 2011
More musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts at the end of a long day that began at Camp Zama, wended its way through Tokyo for a quick visit to the flagpole, inhaling a couple of BIG Cup Noodles, then heading for Korea sandwiched between two trips on high-speed rails. (Confidential to Panther Love: Would have posted something about Yokota’s Kanto wrestling tournament earlier while penning prose at Narita Airport, but they called my flight and I had to duck out early):
-- Normally, coach Brian Kitts tends to pooh-pooh the outcome of most of the many regular-season wrestling tournaments in Japan. "Just another Saturday for us," he might say. Especially in December, the results mean little, he says. "You could have an injury, an ineligibility and a girlfriend all in one day and there go three starters," he’s fond of saying.
-- Not in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Tournament, which Yokota won on Saturday, edging out his good friend Ian Harlow and his St. Mary’s International Titans 54-51 in team points and crowned five gold medalists on Yokota’s home floor.
-- "This one means something," Kitts said. And for a combination of reasons – the Kanto tournament takes place nine days before the start of the Far East tournament, so its proximity is important. And that the Panthers performed so impressively on Saturday indicates that they could be a threat to win their first Far East Tournament team title in eight years.
-- That said, they still have two pretty steep mountains to climb in Kadena and Kubasaki, two of the most decorated programs in Far East tournament history. But if the Panthers wrestle next week at Camp Humphreys’ Super Gym as they did Saturday, they stand a pretty good shot.
-- Memo to opposing coaches: Don’t allow Yokota 141-pounder Michael Litman to get your guy in a double underhook. Nile C. Kinnick’s Zach Lacaria can testify to that.
-- Memo to wrestlers facing the lighter guys who favor the chicken-wing arm-bar move: When you get taken down, sprawl. Flatten out. Stretch out the arms flat on the mat, make sure your hips and midsection are heavy and when he tries to circle around and grab the arm, lean your back toward him.
-- Hard to believe Yokota’s Jake Jackson is a sophomore. He will learn so much and pick up so many tips and tricks from all those tough-as-nails competitors in the weight class now fully renowned as "World War 215."
-- They went through some rough patches earlier this season, but Kinnick’s two-time Far East champion Marcus Boehler (122) and Yokota’s 2009 Far East champion Devin Day (135) appear primed to make deep runs at titles in their respective weights. Boehler, in particular, looked strong in rallying from a one-period deficit to score a technical fall over St. Mary’s Kelly Langley, who beat Boehler in the Japan preseason tournament in December.
-- Zama American’s wrestling program’s most renowned face, of course, is that of two-time Far East champion Michael Spencer. Mark these words: Eric Otero (101 pounds) just might be Zama’s second-toughest – and least recognized – face.
-- Nothing like another classic Kadena-Kubasaki regular-season basketball battle to close out the Okinawa Activities Council regular season. And nothing like an amazing play by a pair of Dragons juniors, Ryan Jackson’s thread-the-needle pass through the lane – and the Panthers’ defense – to a streaking C.J. Crenshaw at the backdoor for a layup that helped turn a Kadena five-point fourth-quarter lead into a 64-61 Dragons victory.
-- But truthfully, in the final analysis, while the regular season gave us three good tete-a-tete meetings between the two most decorated powers in Far East Tournament history with nine D-I titles each, they mean little. All that matters is where each of them stand on Feb. 26 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. We watched Kubasaki sweep Kadena in three games in 1991-92 and Kadena beat Kubasaki in double overtime in the D-I tournament final.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week # 2: Thank you, United, for yet another complimentary upgrade out of Narita to Seoul-Inchon. Ornauer learned long ago that when his pre-selected seat 26J ends up as seat 13J when he checks in, to never look a gift horse.
-- Annoying travel moment of the week: Ornauer pulled up to the Keisei Sky Service counter at 2 p.m. Wednesday, to learn that the Skyliner had just pulled out and could you please wait another 40 minutes until the next one? That was nothing. Try hustling to the information window to recharge your T-Money card at the A’Rex ticket counter below Inchon International Airport, only to find out that 1) A’Red super-express train tickets from Inchon direct to Seoul can’t be paid with T-Money cards, and 2) the super-express’ last run occurs at 9:30 p.m. Guess what time I showed up at the information window? Epic fail.
Published: February 9, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer prepares for Korea’s Arctic-cold blasts and hoping he has enough gear to be able to withstand it for 10 days:
-- It’s not often you see not just two, but three tournament championships in the same venue on the same day, but Yokota High School, whose administration’s "can-do" attitude permeated anything and everything at Capps Gym last Saturday, made it happen. First, the 38th Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Wrestling Tournament finals at 4 p.m. Then, the 5th DODDS Japan girls and boys basketball tournament finals; the girls had been slated to start at 6 p.m., but they needed an extra half hour to ensure cleanup from the wrestling was complete; then the boys final followed. Shows what cooperation between entities can do; then again, basketball tournament director Tim Pujol and wrestling tournament chieftains Brian Kitts, Matt Whipple and Gary Wilson (the latter of Nile C. Kinnick High School) have known each other for years ago and get along like peas in a pod.
-- Kitts, who also doubles as Yokota’s coach, expressed pride in the ability of the wrestling tournament to be hosted entirely on paper, with no computers nor printers used. "The power could go off, the computer could freeze, you could lose the entire tournament file, the printer might jam," he said. He does have a point. Modern technology is great when it works. Just when I was booting up the computer to pen these prose, my laptop froze. Wouldn’t even grunt when I pressed CTRL-ALT-DEL.
-- Doesn’t it seem sometimes that life itself requires its own F5 key?
-- In terms of excitement, though, the DODDS Japan basketball finals lacked in that department, since host Yokota’s teams ran away and hid from their title-game opponents rather emphatically, the girls thumping Nile C. Kinnick 53-28 and the boys doing likewise 52-33 to the Red Devils.
-- Memo to opposing Far East Boys Division I Tournament coaches: Yokota’s Myles Andrews is on fire. In just the last two weeks he’s had point totals of 39 and 31 in separate games, and has made like a Hoover on the boards, particularly on offense. Then again, don’t collapse down on him and sleep on the Panthers’ perimeter shooters; they’ll smoke you if given a good look at the basket, particularly Warren Manegan, who never saw a three-point shot he didn’t take.
-- Fellow Yokota senior Julia Marrin only stands 5-foot-5, but to see her play last weekend, you’d have thought she was six inches taller. She was right in there, banging away against bigger, taller players and came away with a goodly share of points and rebounds.
-- Memo to opposing Far East Boys Division II Tournament coaches: Don’t look now, but Zama American is showing signs of life. Two days after handing Kanto-leading Christian Academy Japan its first loss, the Trojans got double-figure scoring from three players and beat Matthew C. Perry 61-52, a Samurai team that Zama lost to twice at Iwakuni last month. Then on Friday, the Trojans rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to down E.J. King 61-56, getting a game-winning three-point goal from James Liker – who has come to life – with 18 seconds left. Those are two teams the Trojans will face in their first trip to the Far East D-II Tournament starting Feb. 21 at Daegu American.
-- Without a tournament program, other than, say, Jacob Sterry, could anybody tell the names of the players on Robert D. Edgren’s boys team? In my discussion with opposing coaches about the Eagles, they spoke of the players according to their jersey numbers, not names. That happens some with every team, but … just about every player on Edgren’s roster across the board. I was chatting with one coach and he talked about No. 5, No. 3, No. 20, and mentioned nary one name … except Sterry’s.
-- That kind of reminds me of the old school days of basketball, when every team was about the win and the number of points on the scoreboard being more than the opponents, throwback to the 1960s and a much simpler time for pro sports. These days, basketball’s very nature and culture demands a superstar or group of stars on each team. Never mind that Edgren lost its last two games in the DODDS Japan tournament, the last by a huge margin; the Eagles are 17-3, best win-loss record in Japan, and are clearly a reflection of a "no-star system" in which opportunities to excel are presented each player on a rotating basis, or so it seems, during each game, not the other way around.
-- I like that.
-- Memo to opposing Far East Girls Division I Tournament coaches: Tear up the scouting report on Yokota’s girls from their appearance Thanksgiving weekend at the Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament, where the Panthers went 1-4. They’ve not lost since and are playing solid, workmanlike ball.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week: The new Keisei Skyliner, or Sky Access Service as they call the service which began July 17, isn’t bad. Clean, new train cars, get you from Ueno to Narita Terminal 1 in 44 minutes (21 minutes fewer than on the old Skyliner) and for the most part on its own independent high-speed rail. Kind of like the KTX when it first opened in Korea seven years ago, only not as fast on the high-speed sections.
-- Eatery of the week: I tell you, when Kitts gets into one of those moods, the nearest kitchen better be on the lookout. His hospitality room set up on the Capps Gym stage for the Kanto wrestling tournament may be one of the best I’ve ever sampled. Kitts went on the culinary equivalent of a bender: He cooked TWO whole turkeys, pulled pork and Sloppy Joes, accompanied a tasty cole slaw and pasta salad. Any wonder why the tournament began a few minutes late? They couldn’t pull the referees away from the hospitality room with a tractor. J
Wrestling tournament notes and some thoughts on Okinawa Activities Council’s season-ending basketball games to follow this evening.
Published: February 6, 2011
1, Morrison Academy, Taiwan, 24-0. Boracay’s Eco Center is reserved and ready, former Faith Academy girls coach Dan Beaver says, for the winners of the D-I and D-II tournaments.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 32-8. Dragons capture first season-series victory over Kadena in six years.
3, Kadena, Okinawa, 21-14. Still tool-steel nail tough and a sure-bet for a deep D-I title run
4, Seoul American, 26-7. Idle over the weekend; Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference D-I tournament next at Gyeonggi Suwon International School.
5, Hong Kong International, 14-3. What may hinder the Dragons is lack of action since China Cup.
6, Faith Academy, Philippines, 16-5. Reports are that freshman flash Micah Seaborn suffered a serious knee injury and will miss Far East D-I tournament.
7, Yokota, Japan, 20-11. Gaining momentum after winning DODDS Japan tournament on Panthers’ home court.
8, Robert D. Edgren, Japan, 17-3. Something of a collapse in the Eagles’ last two DODDS Japan tournament games; still have best record in Japan.
9, Guam High, 4-2. At last, the Panthers suffered not just one, but two regular-season losses.
10, Christian Academy Japan, 13-5. Finally suffer first regular-season defeat against winless (in the Kanto Plain) Zama American.
1, Seoul American, 15-2. KAIAC D-I tournament next on the Falcons’ home court.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines, 18-5. Had a rough go of it in the Vanguards’ own Hardeman Showcase Tournament.
3, Yokota, Japan, 21-4. Still unbeaten in Japan after winning DODDS Japan tournament on Panthers’ home court.
4, Hong Kong International, 11-4. Inactivity could hurt Dragons in Far East D-I run-up.
5, Osan American, 11-4. Idle last week; KAIAC D-I tournament next.
6, Kadena, Okinawa, 8-16. Panthers completed season-series sweep of Kubasaki at home on Friday.
7, American School In Japan, 8-3. Bessie Noll and the Mustangs have righted the ship.
8, Daegu American, South Korea, 14-8. Idle last week; KAIAC D-I tournament next.
9, Yongsan International-Seoul, 12-5. Lost at Falcons last week; KAIAC D-I tournament next.
10, Robert D. Edgren, Japan, 11-8. Jen Black confirmed it for me: She never gets out of breath and her shoes are made by Pratt & Whitney.
Think Ornauer needs a new set of tea leaves? Can you do better? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but keep it civil and remember, you’ve entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. J
Published: February 6, 2011
An underwhelming response, I must say, to the latest attempt to pair the best four in each of the 13 weight classes to find the Pacific’s best 13 wrestlers of the past 30 years. Here are my semifinal pairings; time for you to determine who’s going to win and reach the championship bouts, which we’ll conduct in a week. If there's a strong enough backlash and enough new names are suggested, I'll see if we can reshuffle this deck. Here it is:
101 – T.J. Aguila, Kubasaki, 2001, vs. Ariel Morano Kubasaki 1983, Tom Chavez Kubasaki 1993, vs. Dylan Pablo, Guam High, 2007.
Published: February 3, 2011
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer grumbles about the cold and how these month-long odysseys get harder every year:
-- Finishing tied for the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools regular-season wrestling title must be becoming old hat for Yokota and St. Mary’s International. They finished part of a three-way tie for the title for the second time in four years after Wednesday’s 38-25 St. Mary’s home dual-meet win over Yokota and Zama American’s 50-6 romp at American School In Japan. Zama was the third team involved in the tie.
-- Just shows what a strong league the Kanto is this year, and how Saturday’s league championship tournament should be beast. Only one team can win Saturday’s meet; just a question of whom.
-- Senior Kelly Langley continues to be nearby whenever St. Mary’s needs a clutch performance from him when competing for a league title. The winner of last fall’s Far East cross-country unofficial "triple crown," the Kanto, Asia-Pacific Invitational and Far East meet titles, Langley – who has moved to 122 pounds – pinned Kai Novelli of Yokota in 19 seconds.
-- Still can’t help but hold my breath whenever somebody employs that high-reward, but dangerous reverse leg/crotch lift, which I call the "Bishop" because it’s Kadena’s Jacob Bishop’s favorite move. Saw that thing at least 20 times in last weekend’s "Rumble on the Rock" on Okinawa and in the Yokota-St. Mary’s dual.
-- Gutsy move by Yokota 158-pounder Stanley Speed, choosing to continue his bout with Joey Nagasawa and go for the pin, rather than settle for a technical fall; Yokota needed all the points it could get. Nagasawa scored on Speed later in the second period before Speed employed a chest press to get the pin in 3:34. If Nagasawa had survived to a decision, Yokota would have actually lost a point, since Speed got scored upon.
-- Great move, bringing back the DODDS Japan basketball tournament for the fifth time, but the first time since 2003. And a smart use of transportation dollars.
-- The three-day affair at Yokota High School replaces the originally scheduled weekend slate of DODDS Japan games in which outlying Robert D. Edgren, E.J. King and Matthew C. Perry were to shuttle from base to base in the Kanto Plain this weekend, playing at Yokota, Zama American and Nile C. Kinnick.
-- Suggested at a DODDS Japan athletics directors meeting in November at Zama that rather than having coaches and players have to pick up out of old billeting and resettle into new billeting three times and endure bus ride after bus ride through Tokyo-area traffic, that they bring all the teams to one location for a three-day double-elimination tournament.
-- It met with a good reception from most, saying it gives all the teams a good, solid preparation base for the Far East tournaments later this month, a chance to evaluate second-line players and give coaches the chance to condition players and put them in stressful situations in a tournament environment.
-- Perhaps the only negative was that Kinnick and Zama lost three home games each. Still, I’d bet the quantitative and qualitative benefits outweigh that.
-- The big surprise of the first day? Zama’s boys, who won their first Kanto game in eight tries the other night 47-46, handing Christian Academy Japan its first league loss, and on Thursday beat Perry 61-52, a Perry team that had beaten Zama 55-52 and 50-48 at Iwakuni in January.
-- The secret? According to coach Tom Allensworth, the recent play of James Liker, giving opponents different defensive looks every second to third possession, and patiently working the ball around on offense, creating openings for three-point looks.
-- Media moment of the week: Spending time in AFN Eagle 810’s studio on Thursday with DODDS Japan basketball tournament director Tim Pujol and Eagle 810’s afternoon drive-time guy, Airman 1st Class David "Stretch" Meade, who has renamed the program "Home Stretch" after years of it being called "Traffic Jams." Meade is a former DODDS brat himself and played sports within DODDS Europe.
-- Eatery of the week: Hands down, the Shima Store, named for Yokota’s Mr. Everything, Glenn Shimabukuro, just inside the entrance to Yokota High’s Capps Gym. Shima rice still a tasty treat. And Shima cakes? Still the most guilty of guilty pleasures.
-- Attire of the week: Matthew C. Perry freshman Whitney Russell’s chapeau, an old-school beanie that she purchased at Yokota, which she altered herself when she pronounced the fit too loose. It’s one of many abilities Russell, from Waco, Texas, possesses, her teammates said; she’s an avid seamstress who does quilting, bakes cupcakes and is an artist who keeps her own sketchbook. Russell’s mum works in military medicine; Whitney herself aspires to be a cardiovascular surgeon, takes all advanced-placement courses and pronounces science her favorite subject.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week: A rare moment when Ornauer flew something besides a Star Alliance partner carrier; part of a cost-savings deal engineered by his travelator back on Okinawa, Ornauer flew Japan Air Lines Flight 904 from Naha to Haneda on Wednesday, his first venture into Naha domestic terminal’s south wing in 11 years. Unfailingly polite staff. Upgraded to a quasi-business-class seat for 1,000 yen. And they served complimentary coffee, green tea and apple juice; All-Nippon Airways charges for those items thanks to this new program adopted last spring called "My Choice."