Published: November 29, 2010
Not since 1990 had a Daegu American boys sport team hoisted a Far East Division II Tournament title banner, and never before had one feted a Far East Tournament title along with one of its girls counterparts. That wait came to an end on Nov. 15 when the Warriors' football and girls volleyball teams paraded their respective banners in a traditional march through school. Click here to read their story.
Published: November 29, 2010
He's viewed as the "icon" and the "spirit" of a Seoul American high school girls volleyball team that gave outgoing coach Denny Hilgar the best possible exit he could ask for, his and the Falcons' first Far East Division I Tournament title. Click here to read about the coach as well as the man.
Published: November 29, 2010
All rise and hail the first Stars and Stripes' Pacific high school cross-country Runners of the Year, Kelly Langley of Tokyo's St. Mary's International School and Amanda Henderson of Seoul American; and tennis Players of the Year Amber Gadsden of Guam High and St. Mary's Kent Shikama. Click here to read the tennis players' story and here for the cross-country runners' story.
Published: November 29, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer decompresses from the 41st Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament and realizes that these things continue to get more enjoyable but a lot harder to do every year:
-- The worry exiting Friday’s playoff games, in which the victory margin of the first-round contests was 32.5 points, was that Saturday’s second and placement rounds would end up being just as dull.
-- Not a chance.
-- Saturday became a glorified round of “Can You Top This?” Just when you’d thought you’d seen the game of the tournament, along would come another that would be just as good or better, followed by another.
-- And another.
-- And still another.
-- What a fun day of hoops.
-- Setting Saturday’s table was Taipei American’s boys come-from-behind victory over St. Mary’s International, which scored 30 first-quarter points on the Tigers and looked pretty much like the Titans of the last two years, who’d start the tournament slowly, then close like gangbusters. Taipei trailed by as many as 15 points before tying it 77-77 in the closing seconds of regulation, then outscoring the Titans 12-9 to win 89-86 in the tournament’s only bonus-basketball game.
-- Or maybe last-second foul-shooting heartbreak was your cup of tea. Try the Hong Kong-Faith Academy 74-72 heartstopper, in which Adam Xu of the host Dragons torched the nets for four three-point goals and Lawrence Lee added 23, while Faith’s Micah Seaborn – listed at No. 4 among freshmen at ESPNRise.com – led all scorers with 28 points. But your heart had to go out to poor Luke Harvell of Faith, who missed three foul shots with four seconds left that could have won it after he was fouled on a three-point attempt.
-- The boys’ third-place game provided just as much drama, and as much of the scoring firepower of the previous game. Singapore American outlasted Faith 94-89, but it was the game within the game that drew all the attention – the scoring pyrotechnics battle between Seaborn, who led the game with 38 points but didn’t win, and Rauson Clower, the Eagles’ Tower of Power, who got 31 points and whose team pulled out the win.
-- Each fifth-place game – involving Kadena beating Taipei American – held its own brand of drama, with the total margin of victory in the two games being four points. Kadena’s boys outlasted the Tigers 66-63 and the girls 60-59, in games in which the Panthers trailed by 17 and 12 points; this, after Kadena’s girls lost to Mora Grehl and the Tigers 59-52 on Friday. “To lost to them the first time, then to come back and win the way we did, I’ll take that,” coach Mike Ochoa said.
-- Kadena’s two-pronged attack, Maria “Ms. Outside” Vaughan with her 23 points and Anissa “Ms. Inside” Fitz with her 20 points, kept the Panthers in it. What won it was Mariah Harris’ backdoor layup with a handful of ticks left on the clock.
-- But really, when you think about it, each of the finals truly saved the best for last.
-- Led by MVP Celeste Marsh’s 22 points and Emma Graddy’s 21, Singapore American burst in front 15-6 after one quarter, then held off a Heep Yunn team which for the second straight year finished second and was forced to use a rare pressure defense to claw back in it. But the Eagles held on to win 56-51.
-- And that boys final … wowee wow! For the second straight year, an Okinawa team broke the hearts of the host team, as Kubasaki outlasted Hong Kong 76-75. MVP Kai Yamaguchi, 25 points, six rebounds. Fellow All-Tournament senior Kentrell Key hit a free throw with 16 seconds left to break the tie and put Kubasaki up for good.
-- Third title in this tournament for Kubasaki, but the Dragons’ first since 2001.
-- Each team had its chance to pull away; Hong Kong went up 18-6 in the first period, in which Xu played like a man possessed, whether shooting from deep or hitting Zach Carlson or Laurence Lee at the backdoor for easy layups.
-- But Kubasaki charged right back, as Yamaguchi scored nine in the second quarter, and Kubasaki pulled ahead to its biggest lead of 14 points on Yamaguchi’s foul shot to make it 54-40 with 3:50 left in the third quarter. That capped a 48-22 run over a 24-minute stretch.
-- From there, Hong Kong rallied back to tie 59-59 on Jeff Chow’s basket with 8:20 left. The lead changed hands five times and the score was knotted six times in the fourth quarter, with neither side leading by more than three down the stretch.
-- Oh, the foul disparity, you ask? That Kubasaki had been whistled for 15 fouls to five for Hong Kong at one juncture of the game? Sure, I saw that. Why? What’s up?
-- A Buddhist proverb notes that one should become the master of his/her mind, instead of letting their mind master them. One must remember also that when arguing over things like foul disparity, you’re simply stamping yourself indelibly on the referee’s mind, and that will likely make more calls go against one.
-- That said, the referees did well to maintain their composure (yes, even if they let so much contact go that the final resembled a rugby scrum at times). Something tells me that if they’d handed out a shower of technical fouls, that simply would have let things get completely out of hand.
-- And keep in mind, each side missed several golden opportunities on missed second, third and fourth chances as well as foul shots.
-- Xu, who finished with 29 points and 10 assists, showed me he really doesn’t have to have a big-scoring game to win a game for his team. Those two passes in the first quarter to Carlson and Lee were things of beauty. Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics’ dynasty years once remarked that the mark of a solid point guard is the ability to pass up a good shot to look for a better shot.
-- Yamaguchi and Key showed me they are clearly motivated for what may come the rest of the season for a Kubasaki team that came to this tournament two years ago and went winless. Key told me as much two days after the tournament ended, evoking without actually saying a British expression that goes: “Well begun is half done.” This team is to be watched this season.
-- Eateries of the week: The tournament’s hospitality room. First class, all the way. Catered in a most professional manner, purveying feasts fit for a king at 6 p.m. nightly. Turkey with trimmings on Thursday, pork and Thai curry on Friday and a roast chicken on Saturday: Delectable, all. Then, there was Spiaggia along Stanley Waterfront. Talk about people who can cook. A lobster bisque and garlic mash that were to die for, along with a hamburg steak that was purely cholesterol heaven.
Published: November 27, 2010
Finals, Singapore American 56, Heep Yunn 51. Kubasaki 76, Hong Kong International 75 in a boys final for the ages. After a playoff first round in which the average victory margin was 32.5, Saturday played a game of can you top this. More Sunday.
Published: November 27, 2010
More pun-abridged headlines you'll never see in Stripes-combined-shoutout to selected players in the 41st Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament:
Taipei Banks heavily on its high-scoring sophomore center (Meredith Banks, Taipei American)
Moon looms over opponents, gives Tigers extra edge (Katherine Moon, Taipei American)
Vanguards girls’ game more seasoned thanks to Spicer sisters (Ashley and Juliana Spicer, Faith Academy)
Price is right: Junior forward powers Kubasaki into title game (Xavier Price, Kubasaki)
Towering center proves Key to Dragons’ championship drive (Kentrell Key, Kubasaki)
Flying Kai: Guard’s shooting touch lifts Kubasaki into final (Kai Yamaguchi, Kubasaki)
Panthers boys more Street-wise with new sophomore forward (Jaylen Street, Kadena)
Scoring streak Fitz Panthers’ senior forward well (Anissa Fitz, Kadena)
Not for the birds: Forward Wrenn keeps Panthers boys prowling (Byron Wrenn, Yokota)
Goode job: New senior guard has Eagles girls soaring (Hannah Goode, Singapore American)
And, finally, as the groans can be heard all the way from Orchard Road in Singapore:
Barber, Eagles clip Dragons in tight, high-scoring battle (Robert Barber, Singapore American)
Published: November 26, 2010
UPDATES with Day 2 games complete; WILL STAND.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer sits content in being reminded of just how relaxing an evening on Stanley Waterfront can be:
-- No DODDS-Pacific girls team will be playing for the championship this year. Kubasaki, Yokota and Kadena each lost their first-round playoff games -- by whopping scores, an average of 39 points. But at least one will carry home a trophy. Kadena plays Yokota at 8 a.m. Saturday; the winner is guaranteed at least sixth place.
-- In fact, every first-round playoff game were blowouts. Average margin of victory in those games? 32.8 points.
-- Pretty clear that the comeback game of the tournament thus far has to be Kadena’s boys' 72-67 come-from-behind win over Singapore American. The Eagles led the Panthers 27-13 after one quarter, and to add injury to insult, sophomore Jaylen Street was playing with seven stitches in his right eyebrow, the result of an errant elbow from teammate Jason Sumpter on the rebound of a missed Street shot on Thursday.
-- But foul trouble eventually caught up with Rauson Clower, Singapore’s 6-foot-4 senior center, and Kadena chipped away at the lead until Xavier Jones, the Panthers’ 5-6 sparkplug guard, used a leaping layup to put the Panthers ahead for good 68-67 with just over a minute left.
-- "Kinda surprised myself," Panthers coach Robert Bliss said of the rally, adding that "once we got within eight points, I knew we had a chance."
-- "My lifetime high," Jones remarked after looking at the scorebook to see the game’s leading scorers; he had 23 points. "Not your career high?" Bliss asked. "No, that’s my lifetime high," Jones insisted. Dude has an interesting way of putting things. J
-- Street, for his part, said the eyebrow was a bit sore, but he was OK playing. And the comeback lessened whatever pain there was considerably. "Unexplainable," Street said of the comeback win.
-- But there was no coming back in Kadena's second game of the day, an 80-57 loss to Hong Kong International. Vengeance for Kadena's championship victory a year ago and a huge night for Adam Xu, who had five of the Dragons' 10 three-point goals.
-- In fact, call Friday night the Night of the Threes. Even in defeat, Taipei American's Max Huang hit six threes, in a 93-72 playoff loss to Singapore American.
-- All good things must come to an end, and two-time defending girls champion Faith Academy’s win streak of 14 games in this tournament dating back to 2008 finally ended at Singapore American’s hands, 61-40 in Friday’s final pool-play games.
-- Talk about your opposites. Yokota’s girls handed a 70-30 beatdown on Kubasaki in one final pool-play game at the middle-school gym; Kubasaki did similar to Yokota’s boys, 57-38 in the game immediately following.
-- Freshman to watch for: Trinity Davis. Yokota. 20 points in the first half against Kubasaki. Plays alongside point guard Erika Ettl as if the two are tethered; Davis can shoot, handle the ball and is cool under pressure.
-- Singapore boys’ performance against Kadena notwithstanding, this is perhaps the best group of Eagles boys and girls to come along in a long time. Parental support is surely not lacking; seems as if there were a pair of adults in the stands for each of the Eagles’ 20 total players. "That’s more support than we get for most of our home games," senior Hannah Goode said, taking great care to add: "But we do love our fans."
-- And there’s much love for Singapore’s boys team from their girls counterparts, who each wear shirts saying "We Love Our Boys" on the front, with the name of one boys player and jersey number stenciled on the back. "We’re really close with our boys," sophomore Alex McConaghy said.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week: Seated along Stanley Waterfront, consuming … er … sports beverages with some of the greatest coaching minds in the Pacific, video of a Shakira concert on one big screen and English Premier League football on the telly. Great for the soul.
-- To the HKIS IT department and those responsible for setting up those Web casts at Dragonnet: Great job, guys. And thanks for the opportunity. J
More later. Keep up with the tournament both here and on Facebook.
Published: November 25, 2010
There's the grandfather, Tine, who coached Faith Academy to seven titles in Pacific-wide tournaments, and his wife of 55 years, Jan. The son, Todd, 46, who played for Tine's 1982 Far East Division I champion team, and his wife of 20 years Robin, and their two daughters, senior Liz and junior Kelly, and freshman son T.J. All representing Faith Academy here at the Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament. Now, that's keeping it in the family.
Published: November 25, 2010
UPDATES with first day complete; WILL STAND.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer wonders why the stairs between Hong Kong International School’s high school and middle school gymnasiums seem to be higher than they were last year … and there seem to be more of them:
-- Pretty clear that it’s still very early in the season for the DODDS Pacific crew in attendance at the 41st Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament, at least for the three girls teams. Kubasaki fell 64-18 to host Hong Kong, Yokota took one on the chin 74-25 from Hong Kong’s other entry, Heep Yunn, and Kadena tumbled 58-38 against two-time defending champion Faith Academy. Later, Heep Yunn ran away on Kubasaki, leading 61-9 at half en route to a 90-15 romp; Yokota fell to Hong Kong 60-21 and Kadena lost 74-46 to Singapore American.
-- Which tells me not to fret about the early results. There's a lot of ball left to be played. And much improvement to be made.
-- On the boys side, things are much closer – Kubasaki, behind Kai Yamaguchi’s 15 second-half points, rallied from a 17-4 first-quarter deficit to edge Hong Kong 74-70 before a raucous home crowd. But Yokota couldn’t handle Max Huang’s barrage of 33 points and lost 81-72 to Taipei American, though the Panthers made a game of it, outscoring the Tigers 26-17 in the final period. And Kadena began the season the same way it ended last season, beating St. Mary's International, leading by 30 before settling for an 11-point win, 59-48. Later, however, Faith Academy pounded Kadena 79-57, giving Vanguards coach Robbie Nichols, Faith Class of 1990, his first win at the Hong Kong Tournament and at the defending Far East Division I champion Panthers' expense.
-- Not only has Madeline Strandemo, the two-time Asia-Pacific Invitational cross-country champion, proven adept on the long course, but she’s pretty fair at shooting a basketball. Her 23 points in just over two quarters helped give Hong Kong its edge over Kubasaki, and she added 27 more in the win over Yokota.
-- She described running in last month’s API meet at Asan Memorial Park on Guam as conditions better suited for swimmers, with water sometimes coming up to runners’ knees. On the downhill part of the course, Strandemo even wiped out, tumbling and having to struggle to get up with wind and rain in her face. But somehow she regained her purchase and was the only girl to run the race in below 20 minutes, 19:54.
-- Strandemo also thinks she’ll have company atop next year’s API standings – sophomore Alex Ott placed fifth in the boys standings. "Watch out for him next year," Strandemo says, adding that winning both the boys and girls API races "is definitely the plan."
-- Memo to Hong Kong International School athletics director Sharon Leung: Please look into sending the Dragons to the Far East meet next Nov. 7-8 at Tama Hills Recreation Center in Tokyo. Who wouldn’t love to see Strandemo, the two-time API champion, go up against Seoul American’s Amanda Henderson and Siarria Ingram, the last two Far East girls winners?
-- There are some rather serious scoring machines out there on the HKIS hardwood. In addition to Huang’s explosion, Kelly Hardeman racked up 16 of her 37 points in the fourth quarter to pace Faith past Kadena. Then there was Singapore’s Emma Graddy; her 31 points were key to the Eagles’ fortunes against the Tigers.
-- A handful of Kadena boys players, five to be exact, have their initials etched into their hair just above the left ear, with their jersey numbers on the right side of their heads. According to seniors Skylar Warren and Jason Sumpter, it’s a "team spirit" thing and they’re hoping the rest of their teammates join them.
-- Faith boys basketball practice must be something -- two players named Luke (Seaborn, Harvell), another named Luka (Van Opstal) and two named Micah (Gingerich, Seaborn).
-- Sumpter suffered a leg cramp late in the loss to Faith, and who was there first to help him? None other than freshman T.J. Hardeman of Faith. An act of selfless sportsmanship, and perhaps the first step toward becoming a sports trainer.
-- Seems like only yesterday I was watching Kelly Hardeman, Faith's junior forward, falling just short in their bid for a Far East Division I Girls Volleyball Tournament title, and now she's pouring basketballs through the net like water into a glass. OK, it was 10 days ago, but you get the point. :)
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the week: Dum-dum Ornauer forgot to pack his spare packet of ultimate lithium batteries for his speedlight flash for the trip to Hong Kong. What to do? Right outside the front gate of the HKIS campus stands a mini-market called Wellcome, which sold a packet of AA batteries for just over $3.50 U.S. ($24.8 Hong Kong).
-- An update on Craig Bruno, who coached Zama American girls volleyball and basketball in the late 1980s, then at Taipei and Singapore in the 1990s. According to Eagles boys coach Mike Norman, Bruno has invested in a couple of condominiums and owns a Mexican restaurant in Phuket, Thailand. The Source wishes Public Enemy all the best.
More later. Keep up with the tournament both here and on Facebook.
Published: November 24, 2010
Well, campers, back in Hong Kong, site of the 41st Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament. Action starts Thursday with DODDS Pacific’s Kadena, Kubasaki and, for the first time, Yokota’s boys and girls teams going up against Singapore American, host Hong Kong International, Taipei American, Faith Academy of the Philippines and St. Mary’s International’s boys of Tokyo and Heep Yunn’s girls of Hong Kong. Click here to follow all the action, live streaming, live chat and scores updated in real time. Kadena defends the boys title; Faith is the two-time defending girls champion.
Interesting how Kadena begins its season the same way it ended last season, facing St. Mary’s International, which the Panthers beat in the Far East Division I Tournament final last February at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Aggravating travel moment of the week: Would AU and whichever cell phone service provider it used in Hong Kong kindly work out their differences and resume service here? Rather embarrassing to brag about having an AU "global passport" that doesn’t work in this loveliest of all cities.
More on Turkey Day.
Published: November 21, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gathers himself against the nearest lamppost, takes a huge, deep breath, then resumes his headlong dash from fall to winter sports seasons:
-- And just what of that? How soon is "too soon" with regard to some athletes having to make a lightning-quick transition from fall to winter sports seasons?
-- Seven days after taking off their football helmets for the last time at the Far East Division I championship game on Okinawa, Myles Andrews and Kazden Batey of Yokota were on the hardwood at Sasebo Naval Base, unlearning all their gridiron knowledge and trying to pick up basketball plays on the fly for coach Tim Pujol, who himself had to make a quick adjustment from football to hoops. Likewise, Lotty Smith went from quarterbacking Kadena to that Division I title to donning jersey, shorts and sneaks in just eight days.
-- Same held true for Kristina Bergman, Angie Robinet, Maleah Potts Cash and the Daegu American volleyball crew, which went almost immediately from championship glory in the Division II tournament at Misawa Air Base on Nov. 12 to a basketball road trip to Suweon and Seoul on Friday and Saturday. Erika Ettl of Yokota no sooner put away her tennis racket than she found herself indoors refining her hoops mechanics.
-- To be fair, those facing quick season conversions didn’t do so badly in their first turns on the hardwood; teams with football, tennis and volleyball players making the changeover went a combined 11-5 as the basketball season began.
-- Well, it actually began a week earlier, when Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division II’s schedule opened with a full slate of games Nov. 12-13. First time I can ever remember the fall and winter sports seasons actually overlapping.
-- Gad, and I’m one of the last men standing in the Pacific who remember when the basketball regular season began in JANUARY, for cryin’ out loud. Fall season ended in mid-November with the traditional Far East tournaments, students were given time to get the dings and wounds healed and the grades back up to speed before basketball and wrestling practice began in December, with a few non-league "friendlies" and preseason competition dotting the schedule. The "real" season would begin just after the New Year, and that schedule would resemble a track meet, with games Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays leading up to the Far East tournaments in late February.
-- Truthfully, it’s time DODDS and the districts/conferences around the Pacific look at implementing a "dead week" between the dates of the last Far East fall tournaments and the start of tryouts – not games – for winter sports. No games should be scheduled prior to December 1. We are talking about young men and women, not automatons. They need to catch a breath, get caught up on studies and get that sore ankle or hamstring fully up to speed.
-- To be fair, I know that the Hong Kong International Basketball Tournament, in which Kadena, Kubasaki and, for the first time this year, Yokota participate, takes place Thanksgiving weekend. It’s tough enough for coaches in mid-fall season to have to fund-raise and figure out who they’re taking to Hong Kong when they don’t even have their teams set yet.
-- Then, there are the demands of scheduling games when international schools and DODDS, especially in Korea, have differing winter breaks and blackout dates; hence, why the winter season has started earlier and earlier every year.
-- Think for a minute, though; who is the early start to the winter season most unfair to?
-- Sure is shaping up to be a battle of the big men on Okinawa this boys basketball season. Senior Jason Sumpter of reigning Division I champion Kadena averaged 21.5 points as the Panthers split their first two games against Japanese teams. But he got outdone by Kubasaki’s 6-foot-6 senior Kentrell Key, who posted monster numbers, 44 points and 20 rebounds in the Dragons’ 107-88 win at Mirai Tech. He came a bit back to Earth with just 15 in Kubasaki’s 108-78 home win over Koza, but that left it up to Xavier Price who nearly posted a triple-double, with 23 points, 10 boards and five assists.
-- Even in defeat, Matthew C. Perry sure boasts some scoring firepower of its own. Senior Jonathan Ayers netted 40 points in a losing cause as the Samurai fell 81-71 at E.J. King. On the girls’ side, Rebekah Harwell – another one dropping a tennis racket and donning hoops gear in a matter of eight days – scored 12 of Perry’s 14 points in a 23-14 loss at E.J. King, then had 14 of the Samurai’s 17 in a 47-17 loss to Ettl and Yokota.
-- Ettl? She averaged 17.7 in three games, all Yokota victories. And after Warren Manegan got hurt for Yokota’s boys in their 71-29 win at E.J. King, Kazden Batey – another football guy – stepped up and averaged 18 points as the Panthers swept their three games at Sasebo.
-- Something tells me we’re going to be seeing the name Xavier quite a bit this winter. In addition to Price, TWO teams carry a Xavier Jones, Kadena and E.J. King, and Robert D. Edgren has Xavier Major.
-- Bergman, football star Darius Wyche and Daegu began strong, the boys winning 43-23 and the girls 54-13 at Gyeonggi Suwon International, in its first season in KAIAC Division I. But the next day … heartbreak for the Warriors, who each lost close ones, the boys 52-45 and the girls 30-28 at Seoul Foreign.
Published: November 18, 2010
Same thing, different sport. Time to cast your vote for whom you believe are the Pacific's top tennis players, one boy, one girl. Hit it, campers:
Jeff and Jay-hyun Kim, Seoul Foreign unbeaten as freshmen and Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference regular-season and tournament and Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament champions.
Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools tournament champions Max Negami and Kelsey Leon of American School In Japan.
Far East Tournament boys singles and doubles champion Kent Shikama of St. Mary’s International.
Far East Tournament boys doubles and KPASSP boys doubles champion Stefan Byland of St. Mary’s International.
Arlo Taylor, Kadena, Okinawa Activities Council regular-season boys singles and doubles champion, Far East singles runner-up, doubles semifinalist.
Erika Ettl, Yokota, KPASSP regular-season girls singles champion, Far East tournament singles runner-up.
Erika Youngdahl, Kadena, OAC regular-season girls singles and doubles champion, Far East tournament singles and doubles semifinalist.
Amber Gadsden, Guam High, Far East tournament singles and doubles champion.
Nicole Cho and Saaya Imura, ASIJ’s repeat KPASSP girls doubles champions.
Other. If you have a name you feel needs to be on this list, by all means, add the name and vote for him/her/them.
Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember ... you've entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. :)
Published: November 18, 2010
In case anybody's tried to follow the path of former Robert D. Edgren football and basketball headliner Zach Latimore, click here to see what he's up to now. Latimore graduated Edgren in 2007, earned an academic scholarship to Pittsburgh and walked onto the Panthers' football team, even made the traveling squad for an overtime victory at Notre Dame. But Latimore later chose Division III environs and became the second DODDS Pacific player in five years, joining ex-Nile C. Kinnick cager Travis Ekmark, to suit up at the University of Dallas. He'll be a junior there this season.
Published: November 18, 2010
Turns out, there's one honor that Speed Inc. and Kadena high school football didn't win, after all. Kubasaki's "Neon" Deon Lewis emerged as the Pacific's leading ground-gainer, thanks to his stellar individual performance during the DODDS Pacific's Far East playoffs. He broke the Okinawa Activities Council's rushing record as well en route to 1,221 yards and 15 touchdowns on 117 carries.
Published: November 16, 2010
UPDATED at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday with Kubasaki's Deon Lewis.
Let’s begin with football, a sport about which many are quite passionate and have their own views about who should reign as the sport’s Athlete of the Year. Here are my nominees; feel free to chime in with your own thoughts:
-- Michael Spencer, senior, Zama American, 1,077 yards, 11 touchdowns, 139 carries. Paced Zama to its second straight Division II title-game appearance.
-- Jarel "Tank" Connie, senior, Daegu American, 561 yards, 7 touchdowns, 69 carries. Big backfield weapon boosted Warriors to first Division II title in three final appearances.
-- Devin Day, senior, Yokota. 1,133 yards, Pacific-best 23 touchdowns, 201 carries. Helped Panthers return to top of DODDS Japan, Kanto Plain pack.
-- As one entry, Shariff Coleman and Thomas McDonald, seniors, Kadena. Combined 2,181 yards, 33 touchdowns for two-time Division I champion Panthers.
-- Devon Jacobs, senior, Guam High. Paced Panthers to historic first island championship, landed spot in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in the States.
-- Deon Lewis, junior, Kubasaki. Pacific-best 1,221 yards, new Okinawa record, 15 touchdowns, 117 carries.
-- Other. If there's somebody not on this list who should be, by all means, pipe up!
Shout it out! Be true to your school. But remember, you’ve entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. J
Published: November 16, 2010
OK, campers, we’re trying some new things this school year to wrap up each high school sports season.
Stars and Stripes Athletes of the Quarter will now migrate to Pacific Sports Blog starting with the fall season award winners to be published Dec. 5. They've published in our print editions since the inaugural 1986-87 Athlete of the Year awards crowned Kevin Maxwell of Zama American High School.
Athletes of the Year, boys and girls, Divisions I and II where applicable, DODDS as well as international-school students who distinguish themselves on the DODDS Far East and Asia-Pacific Invitational stages, will be selected in every sport and will publish both in the print and online versions of Stripes the week of Nov. 28-Dec. 4.
As they publish, let us know what you think of the new look to our high school sports honors.
Published: November 14, 2010
The Top Ten
Published: November 14, 2010
And now, because we did so in volleyball, here’s Ornauer’s Pacific Fine Five in both cross country and tennis. Boys and girls combined teams here:
1, St. Mary’s/Seisen International. It would have been nice to see Seisen team with the Titans in the Far East meet, as they did in the Asia-Pacific Invitational last month on Guam; they would have shown it out, if their times were an indicator.
2, American School In Japan. Absent because of other obligations, the Mustangs would have made it a good run, particularly on the girls’ side, which they won in the Kanto Plain regular season.
3, Kadena, Okinawa. Coach Tom McKinney’s strategy to capture the Far East overall team championship fell together A, B and C. The key? Putting all five of his Panthers girls runners in the top 10, at 5-through-9; this, after Seoul American took the top two girls spots.
4, Seoul American. Not as strong this year in the boys, without Thomas Kim, but as solid as ever on the girls side, AND the last two girls 3.1-mile individual race champions should be back again next year.
5, Nile C. Kinnick. Flying under Kadena’s, St. Mary’s and Seoul American’s radar, David Bailey, Cary Fontanez and the Red Devils almost swooped in and stole the Far East team title. AND Fontanez is just a freshman!
1, American School In Japan. Earned three individual gold medals in three of four events in the Kanto Plain finals, which served as their API tournament for this year. Max Negami, Kelsey Leon and Saaya Imura-Nicole Cho ended their senior seasons in style.
2, St. Mary’s International/Seisen International. Won top overall team honors in the Far East tournament, garnered boys singles and doubles titles thanks to freshman Kent Sikama, senior Stefan Byland.
3, Seoul Foreign. A year from now, this school should top all lists. Their freshmen, on both the boys and girls side, are going to be a force for years to come. Any way APAC can make an exception and let the Crusaders come to Far East next November?
4, Seoul American. Showed some considerable strength on the boys side (Chong Lee, Jay Han, Russell Midomaru); doubles specialist Carson Allen has really stepped up her game in the last year.
5 (tie), Yokota, Kadena. Each suffered some event finals near-misses, Kadena will still have junior Erika Youngdahl, while Yokota will acquire Kadena’s Arlo Taylor via transfer.
Again, if you disagree with the ratings, shout it out, be true to your school, but remember, you’ve entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. J
Published: November 14, 2010
OK, campers. Because a reader asked, here are my final Pacific high school girls volleyball ratings for the 2010 season:
1, Seoul American. Excellent sendoff for 31-year coaching icon Denny Hilgar, star seniors Liz Gleaves, Destinee Harrison; first Division I title for Falcons on their home court. Stars on the rise: Juniors Tiffaney Mitchell, Tammy Garman.
2, Daegu American, South Korea. Speaking of classy exits, great sendoff for Warrior’s big three seniors Angie Robinet, Gulee Kwon and Division II tournament MVP Kristina Bergman. Star on the rise: Junior Leanne Quizon.
3, Faith Academy, Philippines. Yet another heartbreaking D-I tournament finish doesn’t keep Lady V’s out of the top three. Stars on the rise: Juniors Kelly Hardeman, Grace Fern.
4, American School In Japan. And the best may be yet to come for the Mustangs; only one senior departs this group. Star on the rise: Freshman Liz Thornton (what great potential!).
5, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Equaled best D-I finish in school history; cupboard will be far from bare next season. Stars on the rise: Sophomores Jerimae Capuyan, Michayla Robinson, Emily Stith.
6, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan. Heartbreaking fourth straight second-place finish to go with D-II titles in 2002, 2006. Star on the rise: Junior Lauren VanSingel.
7, St. John’s, Guam. Won island’s post-season tournament title. Come to Far East again next year, Knights, eh?
8, Simon Sanchez, Guam. Fifth place in D-I tournament, best finish among Guam teams. Star on the rise: Junior Shanniqua Mendiola.
9, Academy of Our Lady of Guam. Runner-up in the island postseason tournament, did second-best among Guam schools in D-I. Star on the rise: Sophomore Isabel Denight.
10, Yongsan International-Seoul. Finished strong after so-so Korea regular season, captures D-II tournament bronze. Star on the rise: Junior Jessi Son.
Think these ratings are full of hooey? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember, you’ve entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. J
Published: November 14, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer finally comes up for air and reflects on the wonders of what comprised last week’s Far East tournament week:
You don’t cap too many careers the way Denny Hilgar capped his 31 years at the helm of Seoul American girls volleyball on Saturday. In a classic nail-biter, his Falcons dashed to a 2-0 lead, only to watch Faith Academy rally to knot the match before Seoul American left nothing to chance in the fifth set. Final score: 25-20, 25-15, 25-27, 12-25, 15-4.
Serendipitous that the match went to five sets, extended Hilgar’s career as long as it could possibly be extended … and maybe put a few more grey hairs on that head that used to be carrot-top red in a Julius Erving-style afro as big as Falcon Gym.
Great gesture by the Harrison family and the Falcons’ team moms to give Hilgar a truly class sendoff in the Naija ballroom on the mezzanine level of the Dragon Hill Lodge. Some of the anecdotes and skits were truly gut-busting, knee-slapping funny, especially the Benchwarmers, done by Raven Harrison and Deidre Jones. Great slide show by my associate, Gary Cashman. Overall, a very heartfelt evening.
It was the first title for Seoul American in Hilgar’s second trip to the finals – he lost to Academy of Our Lady of Guam in 1999 – and sixth Final Four appearance, including three in the last four years.
One could point to the performance of Liz Gleaves, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and her senior teammate Destinee Harrison, named to her second All-Tournament team. But check out "T&T," the Falcons’ junior tandem of Tammy Garman (13 hitting winners, two block points) and Tiffaney Mitchell (44 set assists). There was your key to victory.
The Falcons became only the third DODDS-Pacific team to win the tournament and the first in 13 years, since Zama American did it in 1997, also on its home court. Only one DODDS road team has ever turned the trick, Zama in 1988 at Kadena High School; Zama also won at home in 1979 and 1981.
Seoul’s victory also ended a run of five straight titles by Kanto Plain Association of Secondary School powers American School In Japan (2006, 2008) and Christian Academy Japan (2005, 2007, 2009).
Gleaves became the first player at any school to win three successive MVP awards in three Far East Division I Tournaments, accorded such honors at last February’s basketball and last May’s soccer tournaments.
It was the third straight time Seoul American beat Faith Academy in that same span of three Division I tournament finals, and the second straight year Faith lost in the Division I volleyball championship; last year, CAJ turned the trick at the tournament when it was held on Guam.
Speaking of capping careers, what a nice way for seniors Angie Robinet, Gulee Kwon and tournament Most Valuable Player Kristina Bergman, to exit the Far East Division II stage, with Daegu American’s second championship in as many years, the Warriors beating Morrison Christian Academy for the second straight year, 25-21, 28-26, 20-25, 25-23.
That makes three Division II titles for the Warriors since 2005, and the school’s girls program’s sixth in all sports. It was also the second time in three finals appearances that the Warriors had to win on the road, this time at Robert D. Edgren, Misawa Air Base, Japan. Daegu won its first Division II crown at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan.
It marked the first time that Korea-based schools won both DODDS Divisions I and II tournaments in the same season.
International schools made a huge splash in their return to Far East cross-country and tennis tournaments. St. Mary’s International’s star shone the brightest; Kelly Langley closed out his stellar career with a Far East 3.1-mile individual race victory, to go with his Asia-Pacific Invitational and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles last month. Kent Sikama, a freshman, won the boys singles and teamed with senior Stefan Byland for the boys doubles title. As a team, St. Mary’s and its girls component, Seisen International, won the boys and the overall school championship.
But it was Kadena (more below) that parlayed placing enough individual runners and pairs in the top 10 of each of the 3.1-miler and team relay that led the Panthers to their fifth overall school championship in eight years in the cross-country meet.
Guam High’s star also shimmered on the girls tennis courts, with senior Amber Gadsden discovering third-time-is-the-charm satisfaction in winning the girls singles title 7-6, 6-2 over Yokota’s Erika Ettl. Then teaming with her freshman sister Chloe, the Gadsdens won the girls doubles crown. And the Panthers as a girls team won the school’s first-ever Far East title in any sport. Nice way for the reigning island champions and for Amber Gadsden, the reigning island MVP, to enter the upcoming Guam regular season in February and March.
On the gridiron, a pair of one-sided outcomes in the Divisions I and II football title games:
-- Kadena’s Speed Inc. running-back tandem, Shariff Coleman (183 yards, 2 touchdowns, 7 carries) and Thomas McDonald (102, 3, 9) made quick work of Yokota 50-23, a game in which Kadena led 50-7 before Devin Day (78, 3, 17) and Yokota made it respectable with two late TDs on Friday at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium on Okinawa.
-- Six days before at Zama American High’s Trojans Field, seniors Jarel "Tank" Connie and Tre Griffin were part of the story, Connie rumbling for 89 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and recording two sacks, while spread-option quarterback Griffin rushed for two touchdowns and amassed 97 yards total offense in Daegu’s 28-2 win over Zama. But it was diminutive Darius Wyche, with an interception and fumble recovery, 28 yards on two catches, a 63-yard return, six tackles and three passes defended who outshone his senior counterparts.
For Kadena, that made three Division I titles in five seasons dating back to its first Okinawa Activities Council title in 2006. Daegu, two-time DODDS Korea football champs for the first time in school history, found the third time was the charm also, sweetening things after losing the D-II title games in 2007 and 2009, each at home.
And Daegu’s boys and girls each won Division II tournament titles in the same season for the first time in school history.
It could not be more clear that both Daegu and Kadena were utterly, totally prepared for the foes each faced. Each team played with machine efficiency and looked as if they'd been breaking down film on their vanquished foes for weeks, maybe months.
Some straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moments of the last week:
-- Division I football title game: Trailing 20-0, Yokota drove 80 yards on 19 plays in 8 minutes, with Day plunging in from the 1 to cut Kadena’s lead to 13 points. But on the very next play, Coleman beat that momentum out of Yokota with a 63-yard touchdown run. Reminded me much of the 1993 Ichiban Bowl, when Yokota did much the same to Kadena but didn’t score, being stopped at the 4-yard line, from where Kadena’s Josh Brandt took the next carry 96 yards for a TD. One might argue that Josh Dyer’s 19-yard interception-return touchdown that made it 20-0 qualifies before Coleman’s run to paydirt.
-- Division II football title game: It wasn’t so much Zama being stopped at Daegu’s 1-yard line after driving from the Trojans’ 24 on 17 plays in 8:46; Zama scored a safety on the next play. It was Daegu’s free kick following the safety that pinned Zama back at its 9-yard line that turned the tide of the field-position battle.
-- Division I girls volleyball title match: It was already an 11-4 fifth-set lead for Seoul American, which appeared on the way to its historic Division I title first. But in case there was any doubt, look again on the film at Gleaves,, who lunged toward the back line and swung a baseball swing at a ball diving toward the baseline. Not only did Gleaves keep it in play, the ball fell just inside the sideline on Faith’s side of the net. 12-4. You absolutely had to be there to hear the ear-piercing roar of the crowd. The next three points were academic. Again, one might argue that Tammy Garman’s huge second set (six attack winners, two block points) gave the Falcons enough of a cushion to keep the lead throughout the match.
It was, by the bye, my first chance to watch Gleaves play volleyball. As amazing as the air up there she achieves with her marvelous leaping ability, the heights to which she scales and the incredible, raw power with which she attacks the net and the opponent, is utterly jaw-dropping and electric.
-- Tennis girls singles championship: Ettl fought valiantly against eventual champion Amber Gadsden in a first-set tiebreaker, but succumbed to a net error and was never the same player, falling to Gadsden in straight sets.
-- Tennis boys singles championship: Kadena’s Arlo Taylor led 4-0 in the third set and appeared set to become the fourth straight Kadena player to win the gold. But he started pressing, rushing to get the match over and as a result, became tentative, playing to not make mistakes. Eventually, Sikama won the tiebreaker and the title.
-- Cross country girls 3.1-mile race, team standings: With Amanda and Pam Henderson finishing 1-2, it appeared Seoul American was set to make it three straight girls team and overall school titles. Instead, Kadena’s girls, running steadily and as a pack, took fifth through ninth places, while the Falcons’ remaining runners finished far off the pace. With St. Mary’s and Seoul American splitting the difference, Kadena repeated its overall school title feat of 2002.
--Some of the legendary figures and luminaries in Falcon Gym, besides Hilgar, included:
-- Tine Hardeman, who helped turn the key on Faith Academy in 1957 and won seven Pacificwide high school basketball tournament titles in his coaching tenure, which ended 10 years ago.
-- Dan Beaver, whom Hardeman inspired to turn Faith’s girls basketball program into championship timber and who ended up topping Hardeman by one title before stepping down two seasons ago.
-- David Suhs of Taejon Christian International School, one of the founding fathers of the 38-year-old Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference and one of the league’s historians.
-- Lori Rogers, who as the former Lori Johnson served as a cornerstone for Hilgar’s Falcons teams o the early 1990s and, like so many who’ve matriculated in the DODDS system, returned to her alma mater where she’s coached boys volleyball and girls soccer for most of the last 12 years.
-- Carl Long of Christian Academy Japan, the longtime boys basketball and girls volleyball coach who got stuck with the unfortunate label of "best coach never to win a Far East tournament" until his boys, led by guards Colby Long and Dan Kunnecke, captured the 1998 Division I basketball title.
-- Three-time Division I basketball and two-time Far East cross-country champion coach Steve Boyd of Seoul American. He was another who was tagged with the "can’t win the big one" label while at Robert D. Edgren in the 1990s, until with Nino Etienne and Jake Abramowicz, his Falcons broke through for back-to-back hoops titles in 2003-04.
-- Dennis Rozzi, the former Pusan American girls volleyball coach whose Panthers in the early 1980s struck up some strong rivalry with Hilgar’s Falcons. They processed into DODDS together at Fort Dix, N.J.; Rozzi has since become the DODDS Japan assistant district superintendent for athletics.
Did I miss anybody?
Guts and glory: Senior Yuria Durham, playing virtually on one knee, earned All-Tournament honors while playing for last-place Okinawa Christian International in the Division II volleyball tournament. And junior Russell Midomaru, exiting his boys semifinal with dehydration, getting treated, released, and returning to Kadena’s Risner Tennis Complex to play, and win, his boys doubles semifinal.
Enjoyable travel moment of the week: Waiting to board Asiana Flight 131 from Fukuoka to Inchon on Saturday morning, when the rather comely gate agent came up and asked if she could see my ticket. She promptly handed me a ticket for a business-class seat. OK, so the flight was only 1 hour, 5 minutes; how often in this day and age do you get an upgrade, any upgrade? Thanks, Asiana! You have my vote for 2010 Airline of the Year (OK, so I don’t have a vote; it’s the thought that counts, yes?).
Published: November 11, 2010
Check this out: Our own Kadena High School gets its moment in the sun on the World Wide Leader in Sports, with thanks in part due to the 18th Wing public affairs office. A reminder that there are more important things in life than even a championship football game, and the things high school students must deal with on a daily basis when loved ones are far from home and in harm's way.
Published: November 10, 2010
The Top Ten
The Top Ten teams in the Stars and Stripes' 2010 Far East high school football ratings, with records through Nov. 6, points and last week’s rating, as compiled by Dave Ornauer of Stars and Stripes sports. Ratings are based on teams' win-loss records, quality of wins, strength of roster, schedule and leagues, point differential and team and individual statistics. Maximum rating is 500 points:
Record Pts Pvs
1. Kadena, Okinawa 8-0 488 1
2. Yokota, Japan 8-1 452 2
3. Daegu American, South Korea 5-2 436 7
4. Guam High 8-1 432 4
5. Kubasaki, Okinawa 5-3 428 3
6. George Washington, Guam 7-2 424 6
7. Zama American, Japan 5-5 420 5
8. American School In Japan 5-3 416 8
9. Simon Sanchez, Guam 5-4 392 9
10. Father Duenas Memorial, Guam 4-5 356 10
Week 12 grid honors
Daegu American—Jarel “Tank” Connie 89 yards, 1 touchdown, 13 carries; 2 sacks. Tre Griffin 66 yards, 2 touchdowns, 10 carries; 5-for-9, 31 yards. Darius Wyche 93 all-purpose yards, 6 tackles, 3 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery.
Zama American—Michael Spencer 82 all-purpose yards.
Kadena—Shariff Coleman 156 yards, 2 touchdowns, 15 carries; 70-yard punt-return touchdown; 1 sack. Thomas McDonald 55 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 carries. Moises Charles 2 fumble-return touchdowns. Gabe Ahner 9 tackles, 1 interception.
Yokota—Devin Day 91 yards, 1 touchdown, 20 carries. Morgan Breazell 108 yards, 1 touchdown, 14 carries; 67 yards, 4 catches. Kazden Batey 95-yard interception-return touchdown. Myles Andrews 8-for-10, 124 yards.
Week 13 outlook
Far East Division I third-place game
Seoul American at Kubasaki, 2 p.m.—Dragons had their way with the Falcons in September; being at home and in their element sure shouldn’t make things any different. ... Dragons 24, Falcons 10.
Far East Division I championship
Yokota vs. Kadena at Mike Petty Stadium, Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, Okinawa, 2 p.m.—See Thursday’s third-place game for being in their element. Yokota has an efficient ground game of its own, but no team in the Pacific can match up with Speed, Inc., aka Shariff Coleman and Thomas McDonald. ... Kadena 21, Yokota 17.
Last week—1-2, .333.
Published: November 9, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer hears the distant cry of a pillow and bed, about a Sunday away:
-- Revelation: DODDS tennis has gotten better over time. Try seven of eight semifinal berths belonging to DODDS players. Kent Sikama, St. Mary's International's up-and-coming freshman, is the lone non-DODDS semifinalist.
-- And DODDS coaches were so worried that international schools would dominate play at Far East.
-- So, why have the DODDS players' games ascended during this Far East? Plenty of hard work, I would start with; many DODDS players now seek tennis instruction where they're based, and you're seeing more and more DODDS players who aren't seasonal, who play the sport if not year-round, then much of it to some degree.
-- To be fair, only four international schools entered this year's Far East; in years past, Far East featured as many as 27 teams, with very skilled players brought to the table every other year when it was a biennial event.
-- Among the missing who should have been there were American School In Japan's Kanto Plain singles champions Max Negami and Kelsey Leon.
-- Also interesting to see would have been the appearance of Seoul Foreign, which used to attend Far Easts back in the day. Coach Joon Myong's freshmen corps would have given fits to the DODDS field.
-- And no question, CAJ's boys team of a year ago, led by Asia-Pacific Invitational champion Miles Peterson, would have had its way with Far East.
-- Or would they?
-- That's what they said about St. Mary's boys this year. Only one left standing in the singles field. And that doesn't explain away the surprising performances by ID card-holding players.
-- One need only gaze at Arlo Taylor of Kadena and his singles quarterfinal 8-6 victory over Christian Academy Japan's Ken Hirata as an example of DODDS tennis' rise. Taylor trailed 5-2 and charged back like a big, bad bull.
-- Chong Lee of Seoul American similarly dispatched Wataru Ueno of CAJ, while Christin Gentz bid sayonara to Haruka Kikuchi of CAJ on the girls side. And Alicia Saiki of Matthew C. Perry, written off against Seisen International's Risako Takatsuki even before that second-round match started, stunned her opponent 8-6 to reach the quarterfinals.
-- There, one Tammi Ragan of Kubasaki blanked Saiki 8-0. Yes, the same Ragan who for years had played punching bag for the likes of last year's Far East champion Elissa Mason of Kadena and this year for Mason's successor, Erika Youngdahl. Something happened along the way. A light switch went on and Ragan suddenly said, "Wow, I like this game. I can play it and I can play it well and I can win!"
-- Best T-shirt slogan: "New Year, New Team, Same Dream," on the back of Kadena's shirts. "The Phoenix Soar" on the backs of Seisen's shirts. "You've been served" comes in third from Seoul American.
-- Best eatery: The entire lounge area in front of the Risner Tennis Center pro shop. One could cherry-pick their way through the pineapple slices, carrot sticks, homemade brownies and chocolate cakes (yum!), even breakfast cooked up by Zama American on a hot plate right at the table. Eggs, flapjacks and bacon as crisp as autumn leaves. One could gain 50 pounds in a four-day Far East tournament.
-- Best cook: Brenden Sullivan of Zama American, who served up that luscious breakfast on Tuesday morning.
Published: November 8, 2010
Bruce Carrick, longtime Pacific high school cross-country observer and gatekeeper for information on the sport at athletic.net, gives his take of Day 1 of the Far East meet at Tama Hills Recreation Center in western Tokyo:
Far East Day 1 is over, and the team race is in the books (or on the net). The Tama Hills course was short but challenging, a new experience for most of the non-Kanto teams. However, the last time Far East was on this course, 10 years ago, John F. Kennedy and George Washington from Guam did not let that keep them from dominating. It is a pity they could not have been here this time. Anyway, looking at this year’s course and races, even if we can’t say yet exactly how much shorter than 5,000 meters the course was (approximately 200 meters, we think), we can compare the athletes’ performances today to their previously recorded season-best 5,000 meters. This will give some indication as to who had a good day and who had an off day.
Second-place Seoul American girls had a mixed experience among the top girls teams. Their runners ranged from 35 seconds slower today to 17 seconds faster. Amanda Henderson, today’s individual girls champion, crossed the line 17 seconds faster than her best 5K and she was in clear command from early on. She commented afterward that the first mile felt too fast, but with 800 to go she felt the exhilaration of being out front and recited to herself a list of people she wanted to thank.
Published: November 6, 2010
Daegu American 28, Zama American 2. Warriors defense clearly prepared well for Trojans; Daegu ends 20 years of boys Division II Far East tournament title futility. Road team has won three of last four D-II titles. Yokota 26, Kubasaki 8. Two goal-line stands preserve victory. Much closer than score indicated; 12-8 with six minutes left. Kadena 54, Seoul American 0. Falcons played Panthers tightly in early going until Speed, Inc. blew it open.
Published: November 6, 2010
Far East volleyball tournaments tip off Monday, Girls Division II at Misawa Air Base and Robert D. Edgren High School for the first time (Edgren hosted Division I in 2002), and Division I at Seoul American and Camp Humphreys' Super Gym in Korea. One might view Division I host Seoul American, with its hitting cast of Destinee Harrison, Liz Gleaves and Tammy Garmany or Nile C. Kinnick of Japan with hitters Mashiya McKinney and Emily Stith and setter Marina Nakayama as the powerhouses of record. Don't forget American School In Japan and Seisen International, international-school teams that have won more Division I titles (combined six between them) than the Falcons and Red Devils (none). Defending Division II champion Daegu American, powered by middle blocker Kristina Bergman, might appear a solid favorite at Edgren, but one must not overlook three-time runner-up Morrison Christian Academy of Taiwan and a newcomer to Division II from the DODDS set, Zama American; which has four Division I titles to its credit and a solid squad this year to back it up. My take: American School In Japan over Seoul American for Division I crown. Daegu American over Morrison Christian Academy for Division II title. Click here for the lowdown. Think my picks won't win? Shout it out! And remember, you've entered THE "No-Hate Zone." :)
Published: November 6, 2010
For the first time in seven years, international schools return to the Far East High School Tennis Tournament at the Risner Tennis Complex on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. The four-day event should see a strong performance by St. Mary's International's boys, but the DODDS Pacific girls contingent should remain just as strong as last year, with semifinalists Erika Youngdahl of Kadena and Guam High's Amber Gadsden returning. My take: Boys singles, Stefan Byland, St. Mary's. Girls singles, Gadsden. Boys doubles: Chae-yong Moon and Byland, St. Mary's. Girls doubles: Erika Youngdahl, Christin Gentz, Kadena. Mixed doubles: Arlo Taylor, Erika Youngdahl, Kadena. Boys team title, St. Mary's. Girls team title, Kadena. Overall title, Kadena. Click here for the whole lowdown. Think my picks are full of hooey? Let me know! Shout it out! But remember, you've entered THE "No-Hate Zone." :)
Published: November 6, 2010
Monday's the day, when DODDS-Pacific welcomes back international schools to the Far East High School Cross-Country Meet, a two-day event at Tama Hills Recreation Center in Tokyo's western suburbs. While St. Mary's International looks primed for a run at the boys team title and Seoul American appears a near-lock for the girls crown, Kadena could pull a 2002 and get just enough people in the top 10 of each event to grab the overall title. My take: 3.1-mile races, boys, Kelly Langley, St. Mary's; girls, Amanda Henderson, Seoul American. Boys team, St. Mary's; girls team, Seoul American. Team relay, Kadena; overall team title, Kadena. Click here to view the whole lowdown. And who do you think is going to win? Shout it out! And remember, you've entered THE "No-Hate Zone." :)
Published: November 4, 2010
Daegu American at Zama American in the Far East Division II football championship might seem like a replay of last November's 46-38 Trojans triumph at the Warriors, until you factor in the new X-factor for each team: Big, beefy fullbacks, Daegu's Jarel "Tank" Connie and Zama's Andre "Chaboy" Encarnacion, who have combined for 861 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Click here to get the gander on the Far East football playoff picture.
Published: November 3, 2010
The Top Ten
Published: November 2, 2010
It was supposed to be rebuilding city for Nile C. Kinnick's girls volleyball team, which lost its three top guns, Shannon Jackson, Camille Kawamoto and Mary Niemeyer to transfer or graduation. But the Red Devils and coach Al Garrido act as though they'd never heard of the R-word, given their 26-1 record and school-first second straight Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title. Click here to read how the Red Devils did it.
Published: November 2, 2010
Bruce Carrick, longtime Pacific high school cross-country observer and gatekeeper of times and other information at athletic.net, offers his assessment of next week's Far East meet Monday-Tuesday at Tama Hills Recreation Center in Tokyo's western suburbs:
• Kadena and Kubasaki have clocked times at the Okinawa Activities Council district finals that would place them well ahead of past U.S. high school national cross country champion teams. While the wind-affected times, the 15:20 and 15:22 posted by Kadena's Tomas Sanchez and Jacob Bishop, are of debatable value, what can be agreed is that at the Kubasaki front three of Cristian Rodriguez, Michael Brown and Roberto Betancourt, showed that no one should overlook them. The Kubasaki crew flew past Zion Christian Academy of Okinawa. Zion, led by Mashu Wakita, had posted some hot times at the Kishaba Housing Course the week before.
• Five points separated the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools' St. Mary's International, Christian Academy Japan and American School In Japan at the Oct. 22-23 Asia-Pacific Invitational (four runners scoring), as they finished 1-2-3 in team scoring. St. Mary's held a wider edge at the Oct. 16 Kanto finals, where the strength of their fifth runner came into play.
• Seoul American held off host International Christian-Uijongbu for second in the Oct. 30 Korean-Americain Interscholastic Activities Conference championships, 13 points back from Seoul Foreign (10th-place finishers at API).
The Kanto and OAC teams have no common courses or competitions, and CAJ and St. Mary's teams have only the sloshy 5,000 meters at API on their resumes. Their potential fast-course times might be inferred from the marks of fellow league member Nile C. Kinnick. Kinnick has the best 5,000-meter team marks in the Pacific, recorded In Sasebo and Misawa, but finished well back in the Kanto finals. Or, one can, by starting from the API times and comparing the times with marks set by Guam and Korean schools, estimate the St. Mary's and CAJ potential 5,000-meter times on a variety of other courses.
All such comparisons make St. Mary's and CAJ every bit the equal to Kadena's regular-season range of 16:15 to 18:29 (top four).
Individually, St. Mary's Kelly Langley's late-season performance makes him look like the man to beat, but Kadena's Bishop will be in Tama Hills to prove that he can be king of the hill as well as the island. CAJ's Jared Johnson beat Langley last time the 5K was run at Tama Hills, and the rugged course may be in his favor. Sanchez has a good chance to be the first "second man" across the line, but he will have to keep his eye on St. Mary's Masanari Yoshida and Jin Marks and CAJ's Taro Sawada and David Vander Haak, all ahead of Kinnick's first man, David Bailey, who finished 10th at Kanto finals.
St. Mary's, CAJ and Kadena - a toss-up. A real shoulder-to-shoulder race up front among three evenly matched athletes. St. Mary's and CAJ have a tighter five-pack; the Titans would be the clear favorites if the fifth man were counted. The outcome will probably hanging on the teams' third and fourth men; Kadena's No. 3 Brad Davies will have to beat Marks, who finished just 1 off the medals at API. CAJ's next two, Sawada and Vanderhaak, both have beaten Marks and they also sandwiched Titan second man, Yoshida, at API. But the Titans' fourth man, Tanjib Hasan, saved the day at API and St. Mary's got a three-point win. Kadena's hopes will likely hang on Davies and Andrew Kilkenny, and hope that a couple St. Mary's runners will do much worse than usual on their home course. CAJ will have to count on the front three continuing as they have, and that fourth runner, sophomore Tsubasa Kaneko, gets back to his freshman form.
Kinnick, Kubasaki and Seoul American will be close in their inter-league battle for fourth. Could come down to if Kinnick's fifth, Christopher del Toro, can get in front of Kubasaki's fourth, Zac Standridge.
St. Maur International finished the Kanto finals ahead of Yokota, Matthew C. Perry, Robert D. Edgren, E.J. King and Zama American (counting five runners). When counting three runners, Perry closes the gap a little, but St. Maur's strength will be a fourth runner who can step up if Nos. 2 or 3 falter. Only Yokota has similar depth, but the other schools' first runners will finish behind the up-front 1-2 punch of St. Maur's Adam Wahid and Antonio Colantuoni. Osan American's Brian Williams and Justin Connor may be able to slip between Wahid and Colantuone, and if they do so, the winner of this race will hinge on the third finisher.
Uninvited - Who won't be there but should be:
Individuals. 12 of the top 15 at KAIAC finals; six of the top 20 at Kanto finals; three of the top 10 at OAC district finals; 11 of the top 20 at API . By name: Michael Gaitan (George Washington), Peter Kim Moon (Seoul International), Trevor Maggart, Jeremy Proctor, Kai Layden, George Dornbach and Michael Godbout (all five ASIJ), Alexander Ott and Christien Laible(Hong Kong International), Luke Seaborn and Jesse Caldwell (Faith Academy) , Charles Zhang and Malekai Mischke (International School Beijing) (top 21 at Guam API).
Others not coming who are top 15 regionally or top 10 in their league: Mashu Wakita (Zion), Japheth DeVries and Mickey Kumar (ICS-U), Roland Umoru & Joelmir Dombe (Yongsan International-Seoul), Kyu Park (Korea International), Jakob Alejandre and Owen Underwood (Seoul Foreign)
Teams not coming: API No. 3 ASIJ, API No. 4 Faith Academy, API No. 5 Hong Kong International, API No. 6 Shanghai American Puxi, API No. 7 International School Beijing, API No. 8 George Washington, API No. 10 and KAIAC champion Seoul Foreign.
Published: November 1, 2010
One can only imagine how Derick "Rookie" Seward would have done had he stayed with Yokota. Surely, Wheatland (Calif.) is reaping the spoils as the Pirates end 11 years of frustration against Sutter High, the Pirates' arch-rival. Click here to read about the game and here for one writer's take on Seward's efforts.
Published: November 1, 2010
Bruce Carrick, a longtime Pacific high school cross-country observer and gatekeeper of statistics, times and other information at athletic.net, analyzes the girls field for next week's Far East meet. Boys analysis tomorrow.
Anticipating the upcoming Far East High School Cross Country Meet on Monday and Tuesday at Tama Hills Recreation Center involves a great deal of guess work.
Only a few entrants from the four major conferences, Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, Okinawa Activities Conference and Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference, have competed outside their zone or against each other, or on a common course, notably the Kanto and KAIAC private schools.
Kanto and KAIAC runners met in shin-deep water at the Asia-Pacific Invitational on Oct. 22, a week before the KAIAC finals on the International Christian School-Uijongbu course. This fact gives us at least one point of comparison.
Today a look at the girls
• Seoul American sits atop the rankings for Pacific girls teams, but there is the matter of comparing times on quite different courses. Two weeks ago, Seisen International was the Pacific-leading team, its times set on the muddy API Guam Asan Memorial Park course. A week later, their team effort was eclipsed by Seoul American at the the KAIAC championships. One should note that among the top 20 boys and top 20 girls at the KAIAC meet, 15 had run at API. The girls ran 56 seconds faster on average and the boys 99 seconds faster than they did at Asia Pacific Invitational.
• The Kadena and Seoul American squads will likely get their stiffest competiton from API third-place Guam High and Kanto fourth-place Nile C. Kinnick. Yokota beat Kinnick at the Kanto finals, but on the strength of depth at the fifth position, which is not counted at Far East.
Individually, be ready for an exciting nine-way battle at the top: Kadena's India Adams, Andrea Grade, Ana Hernandez, Seoul American's Amanda Henderson, Pam Henderson and defending Far East individual champion Siarria Ingram, with Guam's Alexis Vermeire and Meagan Speck and Kinnick's Carydaliz Fontanez trying to crash the party. Amanda Henderson and India Adams have clocked identical 20:29 times. Grade’s 18:29 achieved at the OAC finals leads the Pacific region, but course conditions may have been involved. A good day by one and a bad day by another could result in any number of outcomes at the Tama Hills venue.
Look for a two-team race between Kadena and Seoul American for champion (disregarding the write-in votes for non-invitees). Kaeana consistently has less than a 90-second spread for top four but Seoul American has a tighter top three. Seoul American's vulnerability has been at No. 4, and they will need Ingram back in the line-up and Sally Lee, who finished third overall at KAIAC Finals, to repeat that feat.
If Kinnick's second, third and fourth (Victoria Hardebeck, Ashley DeJesus, Kara Matteson) race to form, look for the Red Devils to take third, unless Guam High's third through fifth (Emma Martin, Isabella Oviedo, Jasmine Funk) have a great race on the cold, hilly, rocky Tama Hills course.
The St. Maur International Cougars finished Kanto League finals behind Yokota, but ahead of Matthew C. Perry, Robert D. Edgren, E.J. King and Zama American (counting five runners). They placed two runners in the Kanto top 15, so as with the boys, they have a 1-2 strength (Mana Kawada, Kiyoka Yasuda) which should be enough to take the small school title. Osan American Cougars’ Iray Hylton may be able to slip in behind Kawada and Yasuda, but without a threat from a high placing second or third runner, it will be difficult for Osan to prevent a St. Maur victory.
So who is the best in the Pacific in 2010? In my opinion, four quite evenly matched teams are vying on paper for second place: Seoul American, Singapore American, Kadena, and ASIJ. Out front and unchallenged is Seisen. They packed five in the top eight at Kanto finals and put five in the top 14 at Asia Pacific Invitational (their only venture at 5,000 meters). Had they run at KAIAC and performed as the other Korean athletes who came back from API to run at KAIAC, they would have beaten Seoul American, and only the Hendersons would have prevented a Seisen sweep.
The resulting reshuffle at the hypothetical top of the Pacific is problematic since the two courses, API Guam Asan Memorial Park course and International Christian School-Uijongbu course, are not comparable. So, who is No. 1? We will never know. The API champion Seisen, as well as the runner-up American School in Japan (1-2 finishers in the Kanto) and highly ranked Singapore American, arguably three of the top five teams in the Pacific, will not be at Far East to give challenge.
Uninvited - Who won't be there but should be:
Individuals. six of the top 15 at KAIAC Finals; 16 of the top 20 at Kanto Finals; three of the top 10 at OAC District Finals; 18 of the top 20 at API.
API top 15: Madeline Strandemo, Hong Kong International, Guam API Champion and record holder; Fumi Kurihara, Theresa Kern, Monie Bishop, Lisa Kwak & Megan Keohane (all Seisen), Naomi Blaz (George Washington of Guam), Bessie Noll, Arisa Ishikawa (ASIJ), Casey Sullivan (International School Beijing), Elsie Chung (Yongsan International-Seoul), Brenda Lee (Shanghai American Pudong).
Others who are top regionally or top 10 in their league finals: Ruby Hohensee, Linda Kim & Radhika Agarwal (Singapore American), Victoria Chi (Taipei American), Teauna Baker (Zion Christian Academy of Okinawa), Kimmie Casto (YIS-S), Samantha Kim (Seoul Foreign).
Teams: API No. 1 Seisen, API No. 2 ASIJ, API No. 3 Hong Kong International, API No. 5 International School Beijing, API No. 6 Shanghai American Pudong, API No. 7 George Washington; API No. 10 and KAIAC runner-up Seoul Foreign; also Pacific No. 3 Singapore American.
Published: November 1, 2010
A year ago, then-Yokota freshman Erika Youngdahl became the first DODDS player to win a singles title in the 37-year history of Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools tennis tournaments. On Monday, Youngdahl, now a Kadena sophomore, became the first DODDS player to win district singles titles in two different districts in consecutive seasons. Click here to read about Monday's Okinawa Activities Council's district singles tournament finals.
Published: November 1, 2010
Daniel Hale, athletics director at Yongsan International-Seoul and the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys tennis tournament director, offers his views on what he says was unparalleled competition:
This is the second year Yongsan International-Seoul has hosted both the boys and girls Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference tennis tournaments together at the same site. In my seven years of coaching tennis here and six years of hosting one or both of the tournaments, I've never seen the competition at this high a level, specifically on the boys' side. Of course, Seoul Foreign was the major contributor to the high level of play. You would think that with the graduation of Ted Bolton, the 2009 tournament champ, that the Crusaders team would have dropped off a bit. But with the entrance of freshmen Jeffrey Kim and Henry Kalb, this was not the case. Jeffrey dominated the tournament, losing a total of one game for the whole tournament ... unheard of, especially as a freshman. The pool of No. 1 seeds doesn't end with Jeffrey, although he dominated the rest. Russell Midomaru (Seoul American) made a great run his senior year to the finals. And the matches were all nail-biters between the talented group of underclassmen-Peter Byun (Gyeonggi Suwon International-sophomore) vs Jun Lee (YISS-freshman), and Josh Kim (Seoul International-sophomore) vs. Russell Midomaru. If they all stay a couple more years, this group of underclassmen (Jeffrey, Henry, Peter, Jun, Josh) the level of KAIAC competition will be where it never has been.
Henry Kalb completed a perfect season, winning the championship match at No. 2 singles. His competition, Chong Lee (SAHS), who was the SAHS No. 1 until Russell transferred from Daegu American and took the spot. The No. 2 finals was one of the most exciting matches of the night, ending in a 9-8 tiebreaker, which fell to Kalb, 7-5. Jay Han (SAHS) also completed a perfect season at No. 3 for SAHS, winning his final in a tiebreaker as well against SFS's Seon Woo Kim, 7-2. SAHS also took the No. 1 doubles title, with the pair of Matthew Bruhnke & Andrew Clark. SIS rounded out the championships with their always strong doubles. Sangwon Kim and Shawn Kim took home the No. 2 doubles title.
Overall, SAHS appeared in every finals match, a very difficult feat, and that is the reason they defeated the seemingly unbeatable SFS team. If this keeps up, I can't wait to see what's in store for the future of KAIAC tennis. Congratulations to all of the players and coaches for a tremendous tournament. Also, a special congrats to the SFS girls' team, who won every single bracket on the girls' side, showing their current dominance.
Published: November 1, 2010
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