Published: March 31, 2010
Just in case people were still wondering who the Seoul American boys baseball team has played over in Korea ... on Tuesday, they didn't just beat Sungshim High School, the Falcons pounded them 13-4. Pitcher by committee went 7 innings, gave up one hit but did allow seven walks, while striking out 14. Still we'll see what the Falcons really do have when the arrive next week on Okinawa for Spring Fling.
Zama American's girls softball team continues to thrive, and is finding new a different ways to win. In Wednesday's double-header sweep of Nile C. Kinnick, the Trojans rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh for six runs. They did much the same in the second game, coming from behind to win 12-11.
Published: March 30, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer's beloved Red Sox count down toward a season-opening showdown at Fenway against the Evil Empire:
-- Talk about a strikeout machine. Annie Tullos of Nile C. Kinnick simply rocketed the pill past almost every batter she saw last weekend in a two-game girls softball sweep of Robert D. Edgren. Of the 24 outs the Red Devils recorded, the fireballer got 22 by way of strikeout.
-- So, y'all thought Seoul American's baseball team's pitching was about the No-Hit Gang, Colton Heckerl and Greg Morris? Sorry, but this team is armed and dangerous -- last weekend, Casey Donovan and Zach Briggs got their turn on the hill and turned in two more wins as the defending DODEA Korea champion Falcons improved to 4-0.
-- Just who have the Falcons played? In Osan, a team that won two league titles in the last decade. The Cougars and Daegu American may be cycling down this year, but especially going against their big-school brethren up north, you will not find two more game teams than Osan and the Warriors. A matter of pride involved, you know.
-- Kadena's girls softball team may have found themselves another big stick in Brittany Erickson. The freshman, making her first pitching start for the Panthers, struggled on the mound, but proved she could stroke the ball, belting an in-park homer and a triple and driving in four runs in Kadena's latest win over Kubasaki.
-- Erickson did not fall far from the tree; her mother, Marcy, is arguably the best dependent spouse ever to take the fields on Okinawa. I've long said, if Marcy were active duty Air Force, she'd have gone All-Air Force as often as she wanted.
-- Sadly, my database won't include stories about Brittany after this season; the family transfers to North Carolina in May.
-- Steve, you sure there's nothing I can do, nobody I can talk to, about getting you extended (again)?
-- Zama American's girls softball express, which had been clobbering opponents by a victory margin of 8.75 runs, got ground to a halt on Friday 6-2 against E.J. King. But the Trojans righted the ship with two wins on Saturday and head into this weekend's mini-tournament with Kadena, Kubasaki and two-time DODEA Japan champion Nile C. Kinnick at 6-1.
-- Just as Osan American's girls soccer team (6-0-2) has moved on without sister tandem Jasmine and Bria Pressley, so have the Pressleys shined in their first few moments with their new team at Kadena. Jasmine scored four goals over the weekend as the five-time Far East Class AA Tournament champion Panthers went 2-1 in three matches in less than 24 hours.
-- All things must indeed pass, as Kubasaki's baseball team's 12-game win string over Kadena did on Saturday. Norm Correa's performance on Saturday mirrored that of Erickson's, struggling on the hill but solid at the plate and the Panthers edged the Dragons 7-6 for their first win over Kubasaki since the 2009 season opener.
-- Matthew C. Perry's boys soccer team never seemed to have much luck in Tokyo-area games against its Class AA brethren, until last weekend, when Tyelor Apple, Andre Bugawan and the Samurai scored a school-first sweep of Yokota, Nile C. Kinnick and Zama American.
10, 48 and 55.
Published: March 29, 2010
As expected, much discussion on Day 1 of this year's DODEA Pacific Far East Activities/Athletics Council meeting revolved around formatting for the new Far East baseball, softball and track and field tournaments, as well as whether international schools will be welcomed to those tournaments and welcomed back to Far East cross country, tennis and wrestling.
"There was some good discussion, but nothing was decided," one FEAC member said Monday. The meetings run through Wednesday, after which recommendations made by concensus of the group will be taken to new DODEA Pacific director Diana Ohman for final decisions.
Published: March 28, 2010
Here's something new from Robert D. Edgren Eagles Baseball Nation: Live sportscasts of Eagles games on the Internet. Click here for details and for Webcasts on game days. Might in fact be the wave of the future for media coverage of DODEA sports. According to Edgren assistant coach Jared Barrows, the Webcasts began last weekend when Edgren visited Nile C. Kinnick. Good thing, he said, for parents or friends who can't actually be at games due to location, deployment or duty. The service is free. Sort of the same thing you see at ESPN360 (dot) com.
Published: March 28, 2010
This week's DODEA Pacific Far East Athletics/Activities Council meeting on Okinawa may be the most important in 12 years, since 1998, when the winter and spring seasons were restructured, moving girls basketball to the winter and soccer to the spring.
Among the many things to be discussed and finalised this week at Torii Station are:
-- School year 2010-11 Far East activities/athletics calendar. Many site changes in the offing, I'm told.
-- Finalising formats for this spring's new Far East baseball, softball and track and field events. Of particular interest, the track and field participant format; will qualification be done by times/distances or placement in each district's final meet?
-- International schools, and will they be permitted to attend Far East tennis, cross country, track and field, baseball, softball and wrestling?
SportsBlog will let you know as much as it can when it can. Stay tuned.
Published: March 25, 2010
He may have to start over every year, but you'll never catch Guam High boys basketball coach Joe Taitano crying poor. He simply takes what he has and moves on. And one thing he has working in his favor is Jayson Brunson, a junior transfer who paced the Panthers in almost every statistic and led them to a sixth-place Far East Class AA Tournament finish and an island playoff Final Four berth. Click here to read their story.
Published: March 25, 2010
One thing that Kadena's boys and Kubasaki's girls have going for them and have in common: Pairs of distance runners who push each other to do well and who give coaches plenty of flexibility in setting up race strategies and tactics. Click here to read the story of Kadena's Jacob Bishop and Tomas Sanchez and Kubasaki's Jessica Powell and Abigail Wall.
Published: March 23, 2010
Let's do that again. Often. Every year, or even twice a year if the East Japan American Football Association has anything to say about it.
The Camellia Bowl, pitting athletes from the four Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools football teams against their counterparts from four Kanagawa Prefecture Japanese teams, offered rivalry, camaraderie and good, hard-nosed football for the more than 1,000 in attendance at old Kawasaki Stadium.
Hard-nosed, and one-sided, if the final score (61-0) was any indication.
And I did not see that coming. As well as the Japan X-League and collegiate teams play, I didn't expect that, and neither did a great many whom I spoke with. That was supposed to be a much closer game.
Try 559 yards of offense by Team USA, which scored on eight of 11 possessions, didn't punt once and turned the ball over on downs just once (the other two non-scoring possessions ended when time expired in the first half and the game). Team USA's defense did not allow a first down until 16:44 into the contest, played in four 15-minute quarters and with NCAA rules.
Certain things never failed to work for Team USA in the game. No matter who threw the ball to American School In Japan receiver Tom Jardine, his brother Hayden or Zama American's Mike Jorgenson, Tom Jardine always caught it. Kinda like ASIJ's regular season.
That pitch play to Yokota's Gerald McCloud, which worked five times for 116 yards and a touchdown, too. Makes me wonder how McCloud could have done in the regular season if Yokota had a more experienced offensive line and if fullback Rainey Daley had been healthy the whole season.
And any time Michael Spencer of Zama carried the ball, good things happened. Such as after Team USA got pinned back at its 36, facing third-and-34 after two major penalties. Kinda murmured to myself, "He'll just put No. 32 back in the game; he'll get the yards back." He did ... and thensome. Try a 64-yard touchdown burst.
Any wonder who the game's MVP was? He gained 175 yards on 11 carries, scored three times, made what seemed like 86 tackles ... Spencer was simply beast.
Corey Peckins. Defensive back. Zama. Two interceptions. Can you say, "Nose for the ball?"
Not a bad effort for a team that had just seven practices over four Saturdays in the run-up to the game, with most of the 33 players also doing a spring sport.
Yay of the week: Good on ya, Yokota Striders. The DODEA Japan school district could not officially be involved with the game, lest it be considered a sanctioned All-Star game and therefore threaten player eligibility for future seasons. So the Striders, Yokota's private non-profit running club which stages the Frostbite Road Race every January, provided everything from bus transportation to uniforms for the Team USA players.
Boo of the week (with apologies to Warner Wolf): C'mon, refs, that Japanese receiver caught that pass in the end zone from the 3-yard line with 3:31 left. He caught it, rolled over, the ball did touch the turf, but he had possession all the way. And that the game umpire, a Japanese official, was the one who waved the pass incomplete ... kinda stunned me.
Cuisine of the week: Never caught the name of the vendor who served it along the perimeter near the press and staff gate, but the yakisoba was to die for. Oishikatta desu. Arigatou gozaimashita. :)
Nice to see the stadium put in temporary bleachers, scaffold-like, on what used to be the first- and third-base sides of the field. Kawasaki Stadium, referred to by longtime Japan Pro Baseball observer and writer Wayne Graczyk as a "bandbox," used to be home to a handful of NPB teams, most recently the Pacific League's Lotte Orions before they moved to Chiba Marine Stadium and became the Chiba Lotte Marines in the mid-1990s.
What I still don't get is ... how come exhibition events such as the Camellia Bowl and the annual Army-Navy flag football games on bases draw hundreds of fans, along with the likes of generals (Francis J. Wiercinski, U.S. Army Japan commander), admirals (Kevin Donegan, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5), U.S. ambassadors (John Roos) and former Japanese prime ministers (Taro Aso) ... but the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League title game last August barely drew flies.
Published: March 23, 2010
It wasn't quite the perfect scenario, but very certainly a good first step, DODEA Pacific giving Seoul American the go-ahead to put together a track and field team to compete at next month's Mike Petty Memorial Meet and the May 24-25 Far East meet, each at Okinawa's Kubasaki High School.
David Abbott moves over from his boys soccer team assistant-coach role into that of heading the Falcons track and field team. Athletes who had been running, jumping and throwing for the now-disbanded Seoul Track Club will comprise the Falcons; two ex-STC athletes each will represent Seoul Foreign and Osan American at Mike Petty, April 9-10 at Kubasaki.
Opinion: Good move. Even though none of the DODEA Korea high schools have a track, no reason in the world why they couldn't practice or compete; there are many locations off post in Seoul where public tracks can be found, ridiculously inexpensive to rent. Nile C. Kinnick in Japan doesn't have a track on Yokosuka Naval Base; they practice off-post each day. I don't know why DODEA didn't do this sooner. Seoul Track Club brought scores of athletes to practice and as many as 30 to Mike Petty and Kanto Invitational in years past. And did very, very well.
As part of DODEA's decision announced Monday, officials said Osan and Daegu won't be afforded the same opportunity "this year." DODEA officials stated that Osan and Daegu would have to recruit both athletes and coaches in very short order, and couldn't begin practice until April, while SAHS already had the elements in place, STC's coaching staff and "numerous" athletes.
Opinion: You won't know unless you try. Sure, it would be easier and safer to plan for next year, but ... dangling the Far East carrot in students' faces tends to bring them out in the droves, especially freshly plucked carrots. Why not have school administration at least put out an e-mail to the faculty and on Pac Gaggle to the students and see what kind of interest you drum up? You already have three athletes at Osan American whom I know would love to run at Far East. You never know who's out there who'd want to join such a team, but didn't because there was no Far East gold pot at the end of the rainbow. As for where to get uniforms? Easy. Visit the cross-country coach and have him/her unlock the store room door.
Overall: Good move. Overdue. Can't wait to see how the presence of a Far East energises the Pacific and its athletes.
Published: March 23, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer awaits his return flight home, kicking his laptop because MyAFN.net is down and he can't find out when and on which channel they'll air the Sweet 16 games in the NCAA Tournament:
-- Some things you can just count on each year. Such as a pitcher named Heckerl throwing a no-hitter at Daegu American's baseball team. Seoul American junior Colton Heckerl made it two straight years for him, firing a no-no at the Warriors last Saturday at Camp Walker, right on the heels of Greg Morris doing the same to Osan American. Tristan Heckerl was the first in his family to accomplish that feat, spinning his no-no in 2008.
-- No-nos abounded over the last three days of last week, starting Thursday, when Kadena sophomore Desirae Seals blanked Kubasaki 15-0 in four innings, strking out five and walking nobody.
-- That's right, nobody. Not one single, solitary walk. Talk about superb location.
-- BTW, we'll get a sneak preview of what could be the DODEA Far East championship on April 2-3 at Camp Zama and Naval Air Facility Atsugi when Kubasaki and defending DODEA Japan tournament champion Kadena come up to face host Zama American and two-time defending DODEA Japan season champion Nile C. Kinnick. Play begins April 2 at Atsugi, then moves to Zama on April 3 to coincide with the post's cherry blossom festival.
*Cue angry band of Seoul American softball players tossing rotten eggs, cabbage and tomatoes at Ornauer, shouting: "What about us? Don't be dissing Falcons Nation!"*
-- OK, OK, Falcons, a shout out for y'all also: Between the pitching of Katie Darby and Brittany Davis and the strength up the middle in shortstop Maria Garcia, Seoul American definitely has the goods to make a run at a Far East championship as well.
-- Moving to the track ... can this game of "Can You Top This?" between Kadena high-jumper Lotty Smith and his Christian Academy Japan counterpart Shorai Ashida get any better? Each took turns Friday and Saturday clearing 6-foot-3, 2 1/2 inches shy of the Pacific record, with the promise of more to come in the two weeks leading up to the Mike Petty Memorial Meet on Okinawa.
-- Pretty clear that 6-5 1/2 is well within reach, if not at Petty then at the May 15 Kanto Invitational, or during Far East on May 24-25 at the absolute latest. And Smith will have final say, since CAJ isn't invited to Far East (this year, anyway).
-- That makes the boys 100, 200, 400 relay and high jump records as good as gone at some point this season. With the boys 400 on life support.
-- On the girls side, once Shannon Jackson of Nile C. Kinnick gets that form down, the Pacific shot-put mark of 10.19 meters is as good as dead also. Going about 50 to 60 percent, she tossed the shot 9.89 on Saturday at Yokota. Three tenths of a meter away.
-- Kinnick as a unit stamped itself a clear favorite toss a monkey wrench into Kadena's boys and Kubasaki's girls chances of winning Far East, if not win the whole shooting match altogether. Try winning 22 of 28 events in Saturday's mixed DODEA Japan/Kanto Plain meet at Yokota's Bonk Field. Coach Al Garrido's charges have got it goin' on, indeed.
-- Valerie James' feats, taking gold in the 100, 200, long jump and 400 relay, are amazing when you consider she's just a freshman and has no prior track experience (she plays volleyball for Garrido, and faintly reminds me of a John F. Kennedy High setter from 20 years ago, Jasmine James).
-- Kubasaki sophomore Jessica Powell's sweep of the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 Saturday on Okinawa is more impressive when noted that her friend and training partner, Abigail Wall, was ill most of the week and didn't run. She's expected back this week.
-- On the pitch, don't look now, but Seoul American's boys are swiftly gaining momentum. AFter going 1-1-1 to open the season, the Falcons, behind Peter O'Grady's five goals, have won three straight with the heart of the season yet to be played.
-- Coach Sung Plourde insists he would love to have back on his Osan American girls team Bria and Jasmine Pressley, who transferred to Kadena over the summer. But between Courtney Ouellette, Angela Frisby and Stephanie McDole (combined 17 goals, 9 assists), the Cougars are 4-0-1 and don't seem to be pining for the Pressleys much.
-- Injuries are beginning to tell. Daegu American's girls are a prime example, having to move defender Michelle Quizon up front to replace injured Leanne Quizon, "and the defensive adjustments were not working," coach Ed Thompson said after his Warriors lost to both Seoul American and Osan American. Back to the drawing board.
-- Is Yongsan International-Seoul's two-year run as Far East Boys Class A Tournament champion near its end? They've lost two straight and are 2-3-1. Or is the best yet to come?
-- Of all the teams in Korea, though, Seoul Foreign's boys and girls, each 8-0, will be tough to beat in league.
-- To paraphrase Will Rogers, "Elizabeth Fabila never saw a shot she didn't take." Try four hat tricks in as many matches. And it's proving contagious: Mirian Romero notched three goals in Kubasaki's 8-0 shutout of Maehara.
-- The big test -- for both Kadena's and Kubasaki's boys and girls teams -- comes Friday at Ryukyu Middle School, when the Far East's most decorated Class AA Tournament teams take to the pitch.
-- Not only is Elijah Gamble a reliable football running back and wrestler, he's proving his worth as a goal scorer as well. Seven, to be exact, and his Kinnick boys side has won its first four matches. Not bad, for a guy who was planning to play baseball (until an elbow dislocation suffered during wrestling apparently scotched those plans).
-- Kind of a Jekyll and Hyde weekend for Zama's and Robert D. Edgren's girls soccer teams. The Trojans erupted for a season-best seven goals and looked like their old defending Class AA Tournament champion selves against the Eagles on Friday; the next day, Edgren, refreshed after a good night's sleep, knotted Zama 2-2.
-- "We talked more. Much better communication. We passed way more. Way better teamwork," said Edgren's Jen Black, who assisted each goal in Saturday's second match. At 3-2-1, Edgren is off to its best start ever.
-- Edgren's boys aren't doing too badly either, at 4-2, with Cheston Nurial-Dacalio (4 goals) complementing Matt Linder (7) well as a scoring weapon.
-- If, in fact, YIS-Seoul's Boys Class A run is over, look no further than Edgren, last year's runner-up, and Class A Tournament host Matthew C. Perry (7-3-1) as possible successors.
17, 55 and 62.
Published: March 18, 2010
I tell ya, the way Alysa Prather of Zama American and Desirae Seals of Kadena are tossing the pill, wouldn't surprise me to see them going tete-a-tete, hammer and tongs, in the Far East Girls Softball Tournament title game on May 20 at Kadena's FourDiamonds.
Prather fanned 12 Yokota batters in a 22-6 thrashing of the Panthers on Wednesday. So, what does Seals do? Goes out and spins a four-inning no-hitter at Kubasaki in a 15-0 romp.
Those Panthers enjoyed a banner day. Sadly, Guam High's Panthers came up short in their bid for a school-first island boys basketball title. Despite Jayson Brunson's 18 points, Guam High came up eight points short of Okkodo in the island playoff semifinals 57-49. The Panthers will play Southern for third place on Saturday.
Published: March 17, 2010
Not everybody has played yet, but here's taking a stab at it:
1, Seoul Foreign (7-0). Even without Remco Rademaker, still as powerful and strong as ever thanks to playmaker Andrew Park (6 goals, 6 assists).
2, Christian Academy Japan (0-0) Reigning Far East Class AA Tournament champions until somebody knocks them off.
3, Kadena, Okinawa (1-0). Schrock and Ahner, Ahner and Schrock. Those names will become as familar as ... well, fill in a star's name, any star.
4, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (1-0). Strong start with powerful home win over Yokota.
5, Kubasaki, Okinawa (0-1). Most of its competition, as always, will come from adult teams.
6, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (5-2-1). May be the Samurai's strongest team yet; Andre Bugawan and Tyelor Apple sure bring it.
7, Yongsan International-Seoul (1-1-1). Two-time defending champions will challenge once more for the Class A Tournament title.
8, Faith Academy, Philippines (season complete, 12-2-1).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (3-1-2). Strong finishing touch by Sam Yoon (8 goals).
10, Seoul American (2-1). Jae Han (3 assists) to Peter O'Grady (4 goals) could prove deadly.
1, American School In Japan (2-0). Morgan who? Laura who? Roxanne Clement (6 goals) brings the firepower.
2, Seoul Foreign (8-0). Speaking of scoring power, how about Yiota Kastritis (20 goals) and Kathy Lee (13)?
3, Kubasaki, Okinawa (2-0). Notice a common thread here? Elizabeth Fabila (6 goals) never saw a shot she didn't take.
4, Faith Academy, Philippines (5-0-1). Vanguards want more than a taste of the Final Four this season.
5, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (4-1). Here we go with more goals, 13 by Nina Aaltonen.
6, Kadena, Okinawa (0-0). Loaded with weapons in Kristie Karibian and the Pressley sisters; now, if they could just get a game scheduled ...
7, Osan American, South Korea (2-0). Defending Far East Class A Tournament champions still bring weaponry.
8, Daegu American, South Korea (3-1). Strong start; big test comes this weekend for Angie Robinet (6 goals), Kristina Bergman (5).
9, Robert D. Edgren, Japan (3-1). The "Don't Stop Believing" gang has the weaponry (Jen Black, 8 goals, 4 assists; Ashley Hawkins, 5 goals) and the strong start to back their faith.
10, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (1-1). Experienced lot should contend for DODEA Japan top honors.
Did I leave out anybody? Somebody should be higher or lower than I have 'em? Shout it out! Be true to your school, and remember ... you've entered THE "No-Hate Zone." :)
Published: March 16, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer mulls his next journey, to the track of Yokota and Kawasaki Stadium for All-Star football, and what surprises those have in store:
What a smashing opening to the track and field season! Times and distances that bespeak midseason form, both in the Okinawa Activities Council and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools season-opening meets at Kubasaki and Yokota. Heres an early peek at what records may tumble, in short order, perhaps as early as next months Mike Petty Memorial Meet:
-- Boys high jump: Gone. Shorai Ashida of Christian Academy Japan leaped 1.9 meters, or 6 feet 2Â¾ inches; Lotty Smith of Kadena registered a 6-foot jump. The Pacific record of 1.97 meters or 6-5Â½ is undoubtedly within reach.
-- Boys 100: Gone. Between Kubasakis A.J. Watson (an astounding 11.08), American School In Japans Ryan Christianson and Kadenas Thomas McDonald and Shariff Coleman (yes, hes back), somebody will surpass 10.55 by seasons end.
-- Boys 200: Gone. Again, it was Watson bedazzling us with a 22.68 scorcher; the Pacific mark of 21.4 easily within striking distance.
-- Boys 400 relay: Gone. Kadena raised eyebrows with its 45.3 in the opening meet. Catching 43.69 is not out of the conversation.
People to watch in future meets: Keep an eye on Nile C. Kinnick throwers Shannon Jackson and David de los Santos and freshman sprinter Valerie James, as well as Zama American hurdler TeAsia Snowden. Once Snowden and Jackson get their form down, they could approach Pacific records as well. James, coach Al Garrido says, can run any event she wishes, can stay with the distance crowd as well as the sprinters.
On the diamond, Zama Americans got a sister act going, Alysa and Keri Prather. 21 strikeouts between them in last Fridays twin-bill sweep of Robert D. Edgren. Then, theres the matter of keeping Kenyanna Brown (six hits, six RBIs) and Reina Staley (four hits, three RBIs) off the bases. Perhaps a challenger to Nile C. Kinnick for the DODEA Japan throne?
Speaking of Kinnick, how about Taylor Myers (6-for-7, 5 RBIs) in the Red Devils doubleheader sweep of Robert D. Edgren?
Still, theres the matter of dealing with ever-powerful St. Marys International, which began defense of its Kanto Plain crown with a doubleheader sweep at Yokota. Jack Cavanagh was a one-man gang in the second game, pitching the victory and helping himself out by going 3-for-4 with a homer.
With 11 straight wins over Kadena dating back to the 2009 season opener, its hard to believe that the Panthers once held similar sway over Kubasaki in the first three-plus years of the Okinawa prep baseball program. Despite concerns over pitching depth and whether the bats can come through consistently, Kubasaki is 2-0 so far over Kadena this season, including last Saturdays 11-5 thumping at Chibana Recreation Area.
Reigning Okinawa Activities Council softball champion Kadena sports its own solid middle of the batting order. Mary Schweers, Chelsey Warner and Desirae Seals combined to go 7-for-12 with seven RBIs in the Panthers latest victory over Kubasaki, 12-5.
A few site changes for this weekends action. Zama Americans baseball, softball and soccer teams will host Robert D. Edgren, instead of the other way around as originally scheduled. Good thing, too; Stripes Misawa Bureau dude T.D. Flack reported Tuesday that while most of last weeks snow has melted, the football field remains a muddy mess and there are pools of standing water on the baseball fields.
Over in Korea, Osan Air Bases baseball/softball fields were in similar shape, so Daegu American swapped host duties with Osan this weekend; Osan will host on May 7-8. The DODEA Korea baseball three-way will be played at Camp Henrys Victory Field, while the softball takes place up at Camp Carroll, 20 miles away.
Ill see everybody at the Bonk Field track on Saturday (hoping it doesnt rain and warms up some) and at the All-Star football game on Sunday at Kawasaki Stadium.
Published: March 13, 2010
Outstanding seasons and outstanding Far East tournament performances led to outstanding awards for Kadena senior 158-pounder Harry Bloom, named Outstanding Wrestler, and Seoul American junior Liz Gleaves, voted Most Outstanding Player in the Girls Class AA Basketball Tournament. Click here to read their sharing Stars and Stripes' Pacific high school winter sports season Athletes of the Quarter award.
Published: March 12, 2010
She could be content with her's and Guam High's first Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam regular-season and tournament singles gold medals and team titles. But junior Amber Gadsden is far from satisfied; there's one very important plank missing from her resume: A Far East Tournament gold medal. Click here to read about her dream of glory.
Published: March 12, 2010
For years, baseball, softball and track athletes could do little more than stand idly by or wish their soccer campadres luck as they boarded flights for season-ending Far East tournaments. Now, the wait is over: Baseball, softball and track are now Far East tournament sports themselves. Click here to read the buzz and see how happy coaches and athletes are about it, and here to get a leg up on teams and key dates.
Published: March 12, 2010
In the first five years after the inception of Far East High School Soccer Tournaments, it was all about Okinawa -- Kubasaki and Kadena helped themselves to all 10 Class AA titles and only three times did a non-Okinawa team even reach the final. Since then? Christian Academy Japan has won the Boys Class AA title three of the last five years and American School In Japan (2008) and Zama American (2009) captured the Girls Class AA crown the last two years. Has Okinawa's dominance ended? Click here to find out, and here to get a leg up on teams and dates to remember.
Published: March 11, 2010
Looks like the Eagles are going to be waiting awhile longer to hit the great outdoors to even hold a practice, much less play home games or matches in spring sports at Misawa Air Base in northeastern Japan>
Two feet of snow fell on Wednesday, and already at least one Robert D. Edgren coach sent me an e-mail saying it's possible that home soccer matches and baseball and softball games March 19-20 against Zama American could be in danger of being postponed or even canceled altogether; there's no other weekend left this season when the two schools won't be playing elsewhere and not have a bye.
Edgren's baseball and softball trip south to Yokota was canceled; the Eagles couldn't make the trip on Thursday following Wednesday's blizzard.
Same problem to a lesser extent in Korea and Japan, where some events were interrupted while others proceeded.
Yokota and Zama American played soccer matches in the snow on Tuesday, the Panthers losing and the Trojans winning; meanwhile, rain pelted Yokosuka Naval Base, where Nile C. Kinnick fell 4-1 to Yokohama International. Zama at Kinnick baseball on Tuesday and softball on Wednesday got rained out.
Over in the Frozen Chosun, Seoul American, Osan American and Daegu American endured a rare March snow day after at least half a foot of the powdery stuff fell on Wednesday, and three of four league matches were scotched as a result. Daegu was to visit Taejon Christian International, Osan was to host Seoul International and Seoul American was to entertain Yongsan International-Seoul.
Like Japan, making up such games is nigh onto impossible. While transportation is the big bugaboo in Japan, blackout dates, differing spring-vacation weeks and two Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference teams playing in the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament affect the ability to reschedule games. TCIS boys coach Brian O'Neill said the likelihood that the TCIS at Daegu matches on April 27 will count double in the league standings as a result of not being able to reschedule.
As an FYI, weekend weather in the Tokyo area looks good, even warming up to 18 Celcius with partly-cloudy skies on Saturday. Tuesday looks nasty, 70-percent chance of rain. Korea's weekend, cloudy on Friday, partly cloudy Saturday, high of 11 degrees; bit chilly, but more playable than Wednesday.
Published: March 10, 2010
If anybody's been wondering what those recent football practices on Kanto bases on Saturdays are for ... the answer will come at 2 p.m. March 21 at Kawasaki Stadium, when players representing the four football-playing Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools take on a team of Japanese from four Kanagawa Prefecture high schools.
"This has mushroomed into something really special," coach Tim Pujol of Yokota said. "It's exciting."
The 2010 Camellia Bowl, sponsored by Kawasaki City southwest of Tokyo, is a day-long affair, starting with an elementary-school flag game, followed by a junior-high touch game, then the main event, Team Kanagawa vs. Team Kanto. Admission is free to high school-aged people and younger; general admission is $5 or 500 yen.
And Pujol, the other coaches and players have every reason to be excited. Wonder just how much attention this game has gotten? The list of dignitaries presiding over the pre-game coin toss reads like a Who's Who of politics, military and diplomatic corps, to include:
-- U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos.
-- Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.
-- Kawasaki City Mayor Takao Abe.
-- Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5 commanding officer out of Yokosuka Naval Base.
-- U.S. Army Japan commanding officer Maj. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski and U.S. Army Garrison Zama commanding officer Col. Perry Helton.
The game will be played under NCAA rules by coaches' agreement, to include 15-minute quarters, instead of the customary 12. "We have kids who want to play; let's give them more time," Pujol said. Japan-American Sports Officials Association is sending a crew headed by veteran referee Bill Passwaters.
More than 30 players, including 11 from Zama American and eight each from American School In Japan and Nile C. Kinnick, will suit up, along with six Yokota players. Pujol has also been in discussion about the game with Coaches Sergio Mendoza and Steve Schrock of Kadena and Fred Bales of Kubasaki, about possibly expanding the game in future years to include players from Okinawa, and perhaps Korea and even Guam.
"Why not?" Pujol said. "Let's think big on this thing."
Published: March 10, 2010
Training ongoing this week at AFN-Tokyo Eagle 810-AM radio this week at Yokota Air Base this week, so no weekly Thursday 4:30 p.m. call-in. His Awesomeness, Isaac Needleman, and Ornauer will re-hit the airwaves at 4:30 p.m. March 18; we'll be saluting the high school winter sports season Athletes of the Quarter, recapping the Yokota Warriors' drive to the Guam March Madness Pacific Regional Basketball Tournament final, previewing the March 21 All-Star high school football game at Kawasaki and discussing the spring sports season up to that point.
Published: March 8, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer thanks his stars for long-lasting camera batteries, one-game double-elimination basketball tournament finals and to be in one place for at least 11 days:
-- No doubt, longtime Osan Defenders coach Tony Jones will firmly shake the hand of Yokota Warriors and All-Air Force coach Norzell Harris next time he sees him ... for not entering the Warriors in last week's March Madness Pacific Regional Basketball Tournament. That freed up former two-time Defender Anthony Showers to play for Osan and Jones, as was the case with Frederick Guild.
-- Showers made a world of difference in Sunday's 81-59 comeback title victory over Joint Region Marianas A. Trailing 35-29 at halftime, Osan erupted late in the third quarter, outscoring JRM-A 14-0 in the last 3 1/2 minutes, with Showers pouring on the defense, recording five steals and 14 of his 16 points in the third period.
-- "When all else fails, defense prevails," Jones said two days before the final. Osan's defense rose to the fore at just the right time, helping the Defenders outscore JRM-A 52-24 in the second half for their third come-from-behind win over a JRM-A team formed about three weeks ago and coached by Jones' rival, Gerry Barnes.
-- It was Jones' third March Madness title, but his first in eight years, putting a sweet end to a season in which the Defenders failed to win any major in-season invitationals or the Koreawide post-level tournament, until March Madness came along.
-- Speaking of teams that took their act on the road, Camp Humphreys' women, led by their big three of Zakkiyya Davis, Keisha Harper and tournament MVP Taneisha Cook, left nothing to chance, burying any hope Yokota had of an upset, quickly and efficiently.
-- Humphreys' defense forced 30 turnovers. Another key stat came in the offensive paint -- the Lady Dawgs recorded 28 offensive boards en route to a 74-39 triumph over the Warriors.
-- Nice finish, also, for a Humphreys team that also won its second straight Koreawide post-level tournament title last month, and also won the Daegu Thanksgiving Turkey Shootout in November.
-- If Barnes ever retires as a coach -- and as long as he's been around, that may never happen -- he does have a career as a singer awaiting him. His rendition of the national anthem during Saturday's opening ceremony was greeted with the loudest cheers of any in the entire tournament. Aaron Neville, move over -- you've got competition.
-- Old legends never die -- they just keep playing ball. So it was for Fred Peters and Chris Shepherd, my old coaching friends from St. John's, the private Episcopal school a stone's throw from A.B. Won Pat Airport on Marine Corps Drive. Peters and Shepherd might appear as if they've lost a step and their best days of basketball are behind them at first glance. Not so. They are still forces in the middle and they almost helped the Budweiser Kings to a Cinderella run, silenced by JRM-A 80-60 in the knockout bracket final.
-- Cuisine of the week, Part II: Yep, I finally caved and went to Andersen Air Force Base's Gecko Lanes bowling center snack bar, where they only serve the most deee-licious heapin' helpin' of stir fry this side of the Marianas. Tasty veggies, two Mount Everest-sized scoops of white rice and enough chicken bits and strips to feed 25 third-world nations. I mean, they had to roll my fat butt out of there.
-- One silver lining to the fact that each March Madness final only went one game ... was actually able to catch some good ol' fashioned American cable TV my last night on Guam ... but that silver lining quickly became tarnished at seeing some of the lame slop being offered to American audiences.
-- For example, an iCarly marathon? I mean, just how masochistic does Nick's audience believe it is?
-- Give me six viewings of "Dude, Where's My Car?" Far less painful.
-- And I know the networks aren't in the business of communicating with one another, but ... did VH1 have to air "Grease" and TCM "Saturday Night Fever" in the exact same time slots on Sunday?
-- And what passes for advertising ... Progressive Insurance's ads have to be THE most childish, immature and dumb wastes of celluloid on TV today. Dare I say it? Ads such as those make me ... *gulp* ... miss those painfully awful AFN local spots ("Can you tell me where the train station is?" on AFN-Tokyo and the lawn strewn with diapers on AFN-Okinawa, to name two).
-- OK, OK, so I grew up in an era that included such classic comedies as "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Taxi," and Doctah Peppah commoyshals dat poked constant fun of Brooklyn accents. Must we continue to offend viewers' sensibilities, is all I'm asking.
-- Annoying travel moment of the week: I'll let the numbers do the talking here. Fukuoka International Airport immigration. Six officers admitting a small line of Japanese; three officers stamping, photographing and digitally fingerprinting a massive line of foreigners. A line so long, and moving so slowly, my papers were prechecked TWICE by the uniformed women marshalling the lines.
-- It's called supply and demand, a generous supply of folks moving at a "one po-ta-to ... two po-ta-to ... three po-ta-toooooo" pace demanding a few extra immigration officers. Check it out.
-- Worrisome travel moment of the week: Sure, it's nice to have them back, but ... weren't they supposed to do away with metal utensils and replace them with plastic for airline meals in the name of safety after 9/11? Have we not learned a thing from the last decade?
-- Memo to DODEA Japan coaches: Mark Jen Black of Robert D. Edgren. And don't let her roam free for an instant. The sophomore striker who transferred from Yokota will absolutely smoke you. Try eight goals and four assists in four matches last weekend at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in the Samurai Shootout hosted by Matthew C. Perry.
-- After a miserable 0-12-1 regular season last year, the Eagles soared to three victories in four matches at Iwakuni, and even in defeat, they gave Canadian Academy a solid match, losing 4-3.
-- That shootout, by the way, just another example of why Penny Lake Field is so aptly named. Five minutes' worth of downpour = hours of moving same water off the fields with squeegees and whatever else works. Only in this case, the rain continued blowing in sideways, making the fields that much more soggy and difficult to deal with.
-- Goal watch: Believe it or not, Black isn't leading that pack; that honor goes to Yiota Kastritis of Seoul Foreign and Nina Aaltonen of Taejon Christian International, with nine each. Elizabeth Fabila of Kubasaki netted successive hat tricks in Kubasaki's two games on Saturday. Edgren's Ashley Hawkins has five, as does Perry's Bre'Onna Ray, who didn't play last weekend. On the boys side, Perry's Andre Bugawan holds sway with 10 goals; teammate Tylor Apple and Seoul Foreign's Ben Neumann each have five.
Published: March 5, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as the 2010 March Madness Regional Pacific Basketball Tournament heads down the home stretch:
-- Got a handful of folks pulling some serious double duty in this tournament. It's being held a couple of weeks earlier than usual, so it coincides with the home stretch of Guam's high school boys basketball season, and a few folks are coaching in each.
-- Headlining the pack is Joe Taitano, who's coached since the 1970s John F. Kennedy and George Washington High Schools boys teams, and is now helming the Guam High Panthers as they seek a school-first Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam regular-season and postseason tournament title. Joe is coaching the Guam Senior National Team in the March Madness tournament, which in effect stands as a glorified team trial, with Taitano and his cadre of assistants evaluating current and former high school stars for competition in such events as the Micronesian, South Pacific and Oceania Games.
-- Shoe on the other foot moment: Taitano is, was and forever shall be known for his tendency to let his temper go all Pinatubo on whichever gym he's in. It was never a matter of if, but when he would pick up his first technical foul (don't worry; he has a generous ability to laugh at himself). So, imagine the start of his GSNT team's 52-50 win over Yokota, when GSNT scored the first basket and Yokota coach Ken Stith called an immediate timeout ... and it was HE who laid into his players, while Taitano maintained a calm, cool demeanor.
-- Others coaching or playing at March Madness and also in the IIAAG league include Sid Guzman, who helms Southern's boys team and also the Guam Senior National Men's Team. Guzman helped Felipe Candaso coach Oceanview, now closed, to a Far East Boys Class AA Tournament title in 1993 at Yokota. Playing for him is Jin Ho Han, whose Simon Sanchez Sharks just completed their second straight trip to the Far East Class AA final four three weeks ago.
-- Where did the time go? moment: Playing for Guam's Senior National Women's Team is one Maree Pelkey, a 2002 graduate of Academy of Our Lady of Guam. Her father, Bob, coached George Washington in the very first Far East Class AA Tournament I covered in 1982, and I saw him play Guam Amateur Basketball Union ball in the All-District League in the summer of 1985 when I briefly worked for the Pacific Daily News in Agana, Guam.
-- From the first night of March Madness women's playoffs ... Memo to coaches playing against host Andersen Air Force Base's women's team: Get a body on No. 24, Christina Cooper, who torched Guam Senior National Team for 27 points in a 55-48 victory.
-- Don't sleep on Guam Senior National Team, by the way. Just because they're short on height and quite young, doesn't mean they won't give you a game. Talk to the Misawa Jets about that; they lost a heartbreaker 74-71 in overtime to GSNT on Thursday.
-- Likewise, you have to tip your hat to the Jets, who had just six players in tow. Where did they get that seemingly unflagging reserve of energy. Vanessa Bossard, Antinita Howard and the Jets must have done some serious conditioning prior to the tournament.
-- Be grateful for what you have moment: Folks back in Korea, Japan and Okinawa might cringe at this. They pay upward of $2.70 for a gallon of gasoline. Try $3.54.9 off-base on Guam. I'll take the former.
-- $3.54.9? You're kidding, right?
More playoffs in a few hours.
Published: March 3, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the frequent observation as Ornauer gets more than just a quick gaze at Guam in his first visit to "Where America's Day Begins" in five years:
-- What a refreshing change, after five weeks of dodging snowflakes in Misawa, Tokyo, Seoul and especially Camp Humphreys, to step off the Boeing 737-800 into 87-degree weather, humidity and sunshine.
-- You mean, the Hertz Rent-a-Car attendant actually went and GOT the car and drove it up curbside for me to pick up? Yep, you read right. This is an island that luuuuuurrrrrves entertaining visitors and treating them as if they're all the DV-est of DVs. Great place to visit.
-- And thanks to anybody and everybody at Andersen Air Force Base's 36th Wing who went clear out of their way to make this journalistic waif welcome.
-- Andersen's Coral Reef Fitness & Sports Center may be 5 years old and has quite been overtaken by Camp Humphreys' 2-year-old Super Gym as the Pacific's fitness and sports center Taj Mahal. But it's right up there, and athletics director Gerry Barnes' baby still continues to give great basketball tournament.
-- Pastel-blue skies. Little white puffy clouds dancing overhead from the northeast. Breathtaking sunset and the peaceful quiet of Tumon Bay. Driving up and down Marine Corps Drive late at night. 87 degrees by day, 76 degrees by night, every day. Great for the soul.
-- KSTO 95.5 FM, "K-Stereo" of Hagatna, or KRTR 96.3 FM, Krater-96 of Honolulu? You make the call; I mean, they're right there together as the most relaxing listens in my 53 years.
-- Movie review moment: Even before setting foot inside Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, there was the flight from Fukuoka, Japan, on Continental Fight 916. In flight, they showed the 2005 Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah) and Jimmy Fallon movie, "Taxi," with Owens playing a NASCAR wanna-be taxi driver and Fallon a bumbling Noo Yawk voysion of da Pink Pantha who can't seem to get out of his own way, chasing down a gaggle of four Brasilian models/bank robbers. Dumb, campy and silly, but credit the movie's director, Tim Story, for not pretending the movie to be otherwise.
-- Cuising of the week: Has Army & Air Force Exchange Service given thought to adding Denny's to its on-base restaurant lineup? It should, even if with a limited menu. Still the best breakfast to be had, at all hours, especially the hash browns, short of the home cooking at Casa de Ornauer.
-- Elephant in the room moment: I'm sure Guahan residents are used to it by now, but the incredible array of banners and placards adorning the fence surrounding the property that once was John F. Kennedy High School simply leaped off the page at me. "Bring us back 2 R school!" read one. "Rebuild JFK. Now!" read another. The property, except for all-purpose Ramsey Field, has been condemned as unsuitable for an educational facility, but rebuilding the Upper Tumon campus has been held up by political and fiduciary snags of all types. And the students suffer most, being shuttled to an alternate campus at nearby Tiyan, although the 2010 seniors, I'm told, will graduate at Ramsey.
-- My take: Get it rebuilt. Now. Yesterday. Before more Tumon and Dededo students will forever have to remember they never really had a true high school experience.
-- Did I mention I like Denny's hash browns?
-- One thing March Madness has is solid officiating. Dwyane Harvin and Matt Grant of United Services For Japan Officials Association just got finished working the Far East Boys Class AA Basketball Tournament at Yokota; John Liggins and Teddy Knight are long-standing workhorses in the Okinawa Athletic Officials Association.
-- At the turn, near the halfway mark, three women's teams, host Andersen, two-time Korea post-level tournament champion Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base of South Korea are grouped atop the women's standings at 3-1. jMeanwhile, Osan's men, with just half their roster, set on top at 4-0, followed closely by the Barnes-coached Joint Region Marianas A team and, very surprisingly, the Guam senior national team.
-- Then again, not so surprising, considering Sid Guzman of Southern High School is doing the coaching. Even if his teams don't win, their opponents always know ... they've been in a fight.
Published: March 3, 2010
Somehow, the long-distance event field will seem somewhat empty during the first Far East Track and Field Meet on May 24-25 at Okinawa's Kubasaki High School.
Senior Thomas Kim and freshman Siarria Ingram, each of Seoul American High School and winner of the Far East Cross-Country Meet individual gold medal, won't be competing in Far East track.
Rules governing the new Far East baseball, softball and track meets this spring specifically state that only DODEA Pacific schools and their students may compete, and only those schools that sponsor teams in those sports may compete.
Kim and Ingram fit the former category, but not the latter -- Seoul American runs a cross-country program, but not track and field. Same applies to Osan American and Daegu American.
There isn't even a regulation track on Yongsan Garrison, Osan Air Base or any of the small Army camps in Daegu.
As members of the independent Seoul Track Club, comprised mainly of SAHS athletes, Kim and Ingram must train on sidewalks, streets or whenever and wherever coaches Kevin Madden and Mike Schroer are able to find space at a publc track.
Rules are rules; I understand that. And they must be obeyed and adhered to, lest these new events burst forth with exception after exception to policy.
But I mean, c'mon. Ingram and Kim are DODEA student-athletes who attend a DODEA Korea school. They're Far East distance-running champions. Would that look fair if stacked up against, say, for example, one of the DODEA schools that does sponsor track and might have a pay-tuition student, not affiliated with the military, or three or even four on its roster?
There HAS to be a way to let Kim and Ingram compete. It would only be fair.
To me, the solution is simple:
Strictly for the purpose of attending the Far East meet, only allow those who fall within the "eight-semesters-clock-ticking" and age eligibility rules, and who post qualifying times/distances, to attend. Let Madden and Schroer continue to coach, but appoint a DODEA sponsor as the "head coach." And rename the team DODEA Korea.
It would only be fair, especially to Kim, who'd want to close out his career with a chance to compete for the honor of calling himself a legitimate "state champion." Being Mike Petty Memorial or Kanto Invitational meet champion is nice, but it's not the state title.
I say, do it.
Published: March 3, 2010
They've come from places like Virginia Beach or Kadena Air Base the last three or four years, reluctant at first to come to Zama American and its girls soccer team, but finding that winning -- as the Trojans have been doing the last four years -- tends to be the elixir for whatever ails them about leaving "all that" behind. Click here to read the story of the latest such transfer, junior striker Taylor Cave.
Published: March 2, 2010
Now it can be told:
-- Far East baseball and softball May 17-20, baseball to be hosted by Zama American at Camp Zama's Rambler Field and Naval Air Facility Atsugi's Bandy Field, softball to be hosted by Kadena at Kadena Air Base's FourDiamonds Complex.
-- Far East track and field May 24-25, Monday and Tuesday, to be hosted at Kubasaki High School's Mike Petty Stadium.
According to a DODEA Pacific news release, the tournaments will be open to DODEA schools only "for this year," Far East Athletic Council chair Don Hobbs said. Whether they and other Far Easts will be open to international or other non-DODEA schools in the future will likely be an agenda item at the next FEAC meeting later this month>
Baseball and softball teams will be limited to 15 players each. Track and field teams are to be determined. Formats for all tournaments are "under construction," Hobbs said, and will be announced after they're put together.
Published: March 1, 2010
Speaking of former Pacific stars, check out what Zori Drew, a former Kadena Panthers three-sport star named Stars and Stripes Athlete of the Year for her senior year, 2006-07, is doing for Division II Brigham Young-Hawaii, part of the Pacific West Conference.