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Pacific high school soccer ratings, end-of-March edition

First ratings of the season kinda delayed, mostly to see how things shake out early on, but can’t wait much longer since we’re nearly into the season’s second month. So, here we go, with a couple of surprises at the top:

Boys
1, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (8-0): Believe it. Danny Kwon and Jacob Son have the Purple Knights off to their best start ever in the Pacific’s best league.
2, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (9-0-1): Best start in Red Devils’ history fueled by the best players the school has had since Manny Cruz (Class of 2000), including brothers Zach, Brandon and Brady Yoder.
3, Seoul Foreign (8-0-1): Jacob Lunden-Welden, Fred Baertels leading a typically good Crusaders start; what about that tie with Seoul International?
4, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (15-2-1): Pacific’s leading offense with 104 goals in 18 matches.
5, Christian Academy Japan (1-0): Only victory in a scrimmage with Yokota; Knights typically play most of their matches after March 31.
6, Yongsan International-Seoul (4-2): Two victories over reigning Far East Division I champion Seoul American goes to show how competitive KAIAC D-I is.
7, Kadena, Okinawa (1-1): Lowest an Okinawa team has ever opened the ratings in a given season.
8, Seoul American (4-4): Been an up-and-down campaign thus far for the Falcons, but David Voelker and Andrew Clark will keep them competitive.
9, Seoul International (3-4-1): Somebody mark Hiro Watanabe already!
10, Zama American (3-5-3): Gaining traction after a slow start.

Girls
1, Seoul Foreign (9-0): Michelle Richardson, Kathy Lee, Sarah Stegner & Co. have Crusaders on typical winning track.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa (2-0): Whether Dragons can muster more than a goal against Kadena this Friday will be telling.
3, Yokota, Japan (6-2): Solid run of six straight wins, the last five by shutout, after losing first two. Kathryn White’s beasting in goal.
(tie), Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (9-1): Only loss 1-0 last weekend to Yokota in the DODDS Japan tournament; the two have halved their matches thus far this season.
5, Seoul American (4-2-2): Tough to replace Liz Gleaves, but Amanda Jackson and Hannah Nelson are managing.
6, American School In Japan (1-1): This isn’t your champion Mustangs team of last year and 2008, but Joey Yamada and ASIJ are still a handful.
7, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (6-4-1): Coach Rick Stanford calls them the young, rebuilding Samurai. Sam Herritt, Sierra Apple and the Samurai are further along than that.
8, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (5-2-2): Front line of Caroline Lee, Emily Moimoi and Susan Yi is dangerous.
9, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (4-2-1): Mark up Hanji Kim. Or else. She will smoke you.
10, Zama American, Japan (5-4-1): Did well to start season, including rare win over ASIJ, but injuries are beginning to tell.

Anybody think they can do better? Think my picks are a bunch of hooey? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember: You’ve entered THE “No-Hate Zone.”

Priorities misplaced?

Matthew C. Perry Samurai soccer players Justin Hill, Yasuki Milsop and Mason Colleta squeegee water off the school's soccer field after heavy rainfall prior to Saturday's home soccer match. Perry's school paper, the Samur-Eye, has taken the Department of Defense to task for building a soccer field at the Navy's Guamtanamo Bay terrorist interrogation facility while Perry must make do with fields that flood with every weekend rain shower.

Student-driven newspapers at times take on rather controversial topics, be they that affect the school and local community all the way up the line to major issues and topics of the day worldwide.

Matthew C. Perry High School’s school newspaper is taking on the entire Defense Department in its upcoming April edition, over the issue of Samurai soccer teams having to squeegee water off its soccer fields after heavy rains, while the DOD built a new turfed soccer facility at the Navy’s terrorist detention and interrogation facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Assistant principal Dr. Robert Funk called the situation “misplaced priorities” in an interview with student-reporters Katelyn Luke and Ashley Starnes.

“Our military children deserve better. That money could have provided us a decent soccer field.”

Principal Morgan Nugent echoed Funk’s thoughts. “It hurts them (players) knowing that their mothers and fathers are out fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq … and yet they’re here and basically blister their … hands in regard to getting a field surface that would be playable.”

Boys soccer coach Mark Lange was far less charitable. “Those guys are terrorists,” he said. “They should sit in a flat, dark cell and look at the wall as far as I’m concerned.”

Rain has affected DODDS Japan's schedule every week of the spring season thus far, a year after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and two years after similar weather similarly wreaked havoc with the spring schedule.

DODDS officials would not comment for the record about it, to Stripes or to the Samur-Eye.

To me, though, it’s kind of an apples vs. strawberries comparison. High school athletics are important, particularly in military communities where life is more cocoon-ish, restrictive and limited in the sorts of things students may do.

But in no way can high school sports possibly compare to the purposes behind building the soccer field at Guamtanamo, for clearly obvious reasons.

The military at Gitmo is charged with gaining as much intelligence about terrorist operations and those behind them. It would seem logical, then, that building an athletic facility as a way of making things more comfortable for those who are being more cooperative would be worth the investment. And those who aren’t cooperative? They’re the ones who find themselves looking at Lange’s aforementioned walls in dark cells.

Sure, Perry deserves better when it comes to fields, especially in light of the new turf fields costing anywhere between $.75 and $1.2 million at Yokota High School, Yokosuka Naval Base, Sasebo Naval Base, Yongsan Garrison, Osan American High School and Camp Walker. And parents, teachers and students get a bit tired of hearing every year that a new school, and its adjunct, a new athletic facility, is on the way five years down the road. “That ‘new school’ is always five years down the road,” the story pithily suggests.

But the DOD and Gitmo deserve none of the blame, in my eye.

Music to MLB’s, Zama American High School's ears

Trombonist Sergeant 1st Class Daniel Welch plays the intro to the traditional New Orleans jazz number "When The Saints Go Marching In" with the Kanto Kings jazz ensemble during Tuesday's concert at the Zama American High School auditorium. The group entertained most of the student body for an hour, part of the 296th Army Band at Zama's "Music In Our Schools" month. The 296th will also perform military numbers and the national anthem at Wednesday's and Thursday's Major League Baseball season-opening games featuring the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome.

Some 250 students from Zama American High School grooved to the swinging sounds of the Kanto Kings, a jazz ensemble with the 296th Army Band at Camp Zama. They performed Tuesday at Zama High’s auditorium, part of the 296th’s “Music in Our Schools” month.

They played a mix of music, about 10 numbers ranging from traditional jazz (“St. James Infirmary”) to new age swing (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “Minnie the Moocher") and even cover versions of pop songs, such as the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”

But that was merely a preview of what the 296th will be doing Wednesday and Thursday at Tokyo Dome – 35 pieces will be playing military songs and the U.S. National Anthem prior to Major League Baseball’s season-opening games between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to represent America overseas,” said Kanto Kings director Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Welch.

“Which we do every day, but in this case, for a U.S. audience at the Dome and on TV stateside, so it’s doubly exciting,” Welch said. “Plus, getting to see America’s game in the Dome. That’s really neat.”

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

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gazes at the weather forecast for next weekend and sees … wait for it … more rain:

Senior dreams shattered – The last year in school that any student-athlete wants to be injured is their senior season. The last rodeo. Time to shine and put all that knowledge that coach has given you to work, to be a true team leader, put the team on your back and lead them to the Far East tournament gold promised land.

That’s why it was heartbreaking to see Rachel Walls, a Zama American senior midfielder, tumble off the wrong foot after trying to kick the ball to the right and toward the Nile C. Kinnick goal last Tuesday at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Diagnosis revealed a fracture in the small bone in her lower right leg. She’s casted up, will be so for the next month or so, and now her availability for Far East could be in question.

It was another in a series of injuries that have devastated the Trojans’ lineup, starting with goalkeeper Carlee Olson and continuing with Walls, and a handful of others over the weekend in the DODDS Japan girls soccer tournament that forced Zama to withdraw from its last two matches on Saturday at Yokota.

Then, there was Jen Black, Robert D. Edgren’s super senior who had JUST gotten cleared after recovering from ACL surgery on her right knee to play basketball in time for the Far East Division II Tournament, which the Eagles hosted; they lost in the finals to Daegu High.

She’s good at any sport she plays, but she can’t stop playing soccer any more than she can stop breathing. But on Friday, she suffered a ligament strain in her LEFT knee and must keep off the leg for at least a week.

Injuries are part of the game and nobody can ever plan for them. But gawd, why in the senior year, the most memorable time of their lives?

Weather woes, again – For the third straight week, bad weather played a role, though not as much, in the weekend schedule. Okinawa’s weekly track and field quadrangular finished in driving rain; some field events and the hurdles were scratched. Day-long rain pounded the DODDS Japan venues, forcing the last five games of the baseball at Naval Air Facility Atsugi to be scotched and two softball games at Yokota to be canceled. Soccer was played in day-long rain on Friday and part of Saturday. Rain spared Zama American and Daegu, South Korea, and DODDS track seasons began in both Korea and Japan.

What worried me most was the notion of continuing to play softball in the slippery conditions at Yokota. While you can play outdoor sports such as football and soccer in virtually any conditions, baseball and softball require a certain precision, sudden stops and starts that can be endangered by a slippery base path or the base or home plate itself. That’s a torn hamstring, strained quad or fractured ankle waiting to happen.

Verily, it could be argued that teams travel a very long way, some by bus, others by plane or train, from Seoul to Daegu and from Sasebo to Misawa, to play these games. Yes, everybody wants to play, and everybody should play, but at what risk?

Mercy rules, title-determining criteria – Over the weekend, a couple of thorny issues addressed in the Far East Activities Council manual reared their heads: What constitutes a mercy-rule invocation in DODDS Pacific soccer and how to determine title winners in tournaments when two or more teams are tied at the top of the standings.

The first issue was raised after a 14-0 curbstomping in the DODDS Japan boys soccer tournament. Some argue that matches should be halted after the score reaches 8-0; in fact, the winning team is required to remove as many starters as it can, given whatever numbers it has on the bench.

As far as the second issue, that was raised after boys soccer tournament officials decided the determining factor would be goals allowed during the tournament. Kinnick and Matthew C. Perry each finished 4-0-1, but the Red Devils allowed three fewer goals than the Samurai, and won the title based on that criteria.

A year ago, Perry hosted the tournament and said any such tiebreakers would be decided by goal differential, goals made vs. goals allowed. Had that same criteria applied this weekend, Perry would have won for having scored 15 more goals than Kinnick.

What’s needed is not to castigate one party or the other, but ensure there’s consistency and continuity across the board, the same criteria no matter who’s hosting the event and good passdown leading up to it.

It’s beginning to look a lot like cross country – Any wonder that the Pacific high school track and field season is starting to resemble an instant replay of last fall’s Far East cross-country meet?

Robert Beard of Kinnick and Far East boys champion Erik Armes of Kubasaki are ruling their respective roosts, while two-time Far East girls champion Amanda Henderson, Kubasaki’s Allie Reichenberg and Kinnick’s Carydaliz Fontanez are leading the girls pack.

Note to the Far East track meet organizers: Invite Zion Christian Academy and Okinawa Christian Internaitonal. We have GOT to see how Jade Cummings and Rahman Cairnes do against the rest of the sprint community, to include Preston Brooks of Yokota and Kelsey Scott of Seoul American, to name a few.

Congratulations to Seoul American, by the way, which qualified eight athletes, including four relay runners, for Far East, with Ty White qualifying for the 200 and 1,600 relay and Mecca Perkins in the throwing events.

Zama American’s Roland Cote and Christian Garner swept the DODDS Japan throws, while Val James of Kinnick and the aforementioned Brooks shone in the sprints and jumps.

And how about Daegu High, hosting its first track meet on the campus of Kyungbuk University? Hopefully, that’s just the start. And there’s the all-comers meet coming up on Saturday at Camp Casey to be hosted by Seoul American.

If the weather can hold off, we should have a beast of a track season.

Schedule switch – Before I forget, because of the unpredictable nature of the weather, Zama American’s trip to Robert D. Edgren for baseball, softball and soccer just prior to the spring break has been changed; Edgren will travel to Zama instead.


Soccer rivalries – At least in DODDS Japan, the big rivalries this season appear to be between Nile C. Kinnick’s and Matthew C. Perry’s boys, who tied 2-2 and have the top two win-loss records in Japan, and Kinnick’s and Yokota’s girls, who’ve beaten each other once and are also 1-2 in the win-loss ledger. They’ll see each other before the season ends, and the Red Devils’ and Panthers’ girls likely could hook up at Far East Division I.

New Bonk Field – The newly turfed Bonk Field at Yokota High School is a thing of beauty. At a cost of around $800,000, field turf pays for itself in about a year or so. The only maintenance you need to perform is vacuum it once or so per month and paint lines and numbers if the weather wears them down (as is the case with Berkey Field at Yokosuka Naval Base). Plus, you can play on it in any weather except snow or lightning. Or a typhoon, perhaps.

To the rest of the Pacific: TURF UP! Like the 31 Flavours motto for its chocolate fudge and French vanilla flavours: “Costs more, but worth it.”

I’m also told that there’s a new scoreboard coming for the softball field at Yokota, and the field itself will be renamed Headley Field, in honor of former longtime Yokota High School athletics director Joel Headley. Good move to honor a class guy.


Softball still needs work – We’re more than half a decade into the new age of fastpitch softball in the Far East, yet we’re still many more years away before it can be successful.

For one, there are far from enough arms to supply each team. Most teams attempt to get by with one ace hurler, backed up by an emergency reliever or two in case the starter’s arm tires. The pitching overall is improving, but control is an issue; walks outnumbered hits by a 4-1 margin in the DODDS Japan tournament, contributing to many a double-digit final score.

More than that are the issues of consistency and continuity. While most of the same coaches return this season, players simply don’t stay with the Pacific programs long enough to develop good chemistry; they come and go like some people change socks.

Not like it was years ago when civilian and contractor families would move in and stay so their kids would go to school K-12, one of the ingredients which made Zama volleyball and Yokota football so powerful in the 1970s and ’80s.

And some change spring sports along the way; I counted at least six girls who played softball last year who have moved onto other sports.

Take care, Silvia and Vanessa! – One of the more frightening visions of the weekend was watching Zama junior left-hander Silvia Dykstra get nailed on the coconut by a line drive in a game against Kinnick. She was down but for a few seconds, walked off the field under her own power, was taken to Yokota Hospital as a precaution, treated and released. With a nice stitch mark above her right eye. She even wanted to play again. Don’t rush it, Silvia. Take special care and soon you and Rachel and Carlee will be back on the field.

Not only did the aforementioned Jen Black suffer a scare with her left knee, her freshman sister, Vanessa, collided with a player in a DODDS Japan soccer match and suffered an abrasion just under her left eye.

Apple of the goal-scoring eye – Not even the end of March, with the rest of the regular season and Far East Division II Tournament yet to be played, and M.C. Perry senior striker Tyelor Apple has 35 goals, just 26 short of the Pacific’s single-season record of 61 set by Seoul Foreign’s Remco Rademaker. I doubt that he’ll threaten Rademaker’s career mark of 183 (Apple has 95 in two-plus seasons), but there’s virtually no doubt the single-season record is on life support.

Eatery of the Week – None other than the Shima Shack at Yokota High School, where all things Shima, the rice, the chili, the burgers, the cakes … oooo, the CAKES! … remain as tasty as ever.

Mark plus 29.

Things learned, observed during Tomodachi Bowl I Sunday at Yokosuka

U.S. Army Japan commanding officer Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison and former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso are flanked by members of Teams USA and Japan after Sunday's Tomodachi Bowl at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Team USA, comprised of Yokota, Zama American, Nile C. Kinnick and American School In Japan players, beat Team Japan 50-17.

It was not nearly the 61-0 curbstomping administered by Team USA to Team Japan in the Camellia Bowl two years ago at Kawasaki Stadium. It was also far from the close battle anticipated between the two teams when they teed it up for Sunday’s Tomodachi Bowl at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field.

Sunday’s 50-17 Team USA victory most definitely took on the appearance of an offensive showcase by American School In Japan quarterback Hayden Jardine and running backs Ken Yajima and Haru Kent, along with a dash of rushing by Zama American junior tandem Andre Encarnacion and Mitchell Harrison and clutch secondary play by Yokota free safety Stanley Speed.

-- Jardine: In his final appearance in Kanto uniform and in his second USA vs. Japan start, the Mustangs senior went 8-for-15 for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and 26 yards on seven carries, including a 30-yard touchdown run near the end of the first half, which was a thing of beauty. He must have broken 12 tackles on that keeper around left end. There was also his 47-yard X-flag strike to Dustin Kimbrell of Kinnick, which set up the TD that ended the first half with Team USA ahead 33-3.

­­-- Kent: 108 yards on nine carries, a 7-yard touchdown run and a field goal.

-- Yajima: 91 yards on seven carries, a 5-yard rushing touchdown and a 19-yard receiving TD.

-- Encarnacion: 67 yards on eight carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run on his second carry.

-- Harrison: Entering the game in the third quarter, he scored on a 39-yard run on his first carry and finished with 30 on three attempts.

-- Speed: Interceptions on successive Team Japan possessions, which ended scoring threats by their Japanese counterparts.

In all, Team USA racked up 513 yards on 58 plays and 612 total yards. But while Team USA outgained its Japanese counterparts by almost 3-1 on offense, Team Japan, represented by Rikkyo Niiza and Hosei High Schools of Kanagawa Prefecture, made its mark this time around, particularly on special teams. It was a far cry from its dreadful performance in the first Camellia Bowl.

Hosei had two sustained drives, converting one of 14 plays and 80 yards near the end of the first half into a 22-yard field goal, then scoring its first offensive TD against the U.S. following an 18-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 6:17. And on the opening kickoff of the second half, Hosei’s Genta Ito took the ball at the 21-yard line and rambled 79 yards for a touchdown.

Team Japan racked up 180 yards of total offense and 195 yards on returns. That’s 375 total yards. And 987 total yards between the two teams.

Not bad for a game that was played most of the way in a steady rain, and with a plethora of dignitaries and military uniforms dotting the crowd of something close to 600. The bowl was renamed from Camellia to Tomodachi, in appreciation of Operation Tomodachi, the rescue and relief operations conducted by the U.S. Armed Forces in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami last March 11.

One of the game’s founding fathers, former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso who serves as the president of the Japanese Parliamentary Association for American Football, was on hand. U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos was unable to attend; no reason was given.

Also in attendance were U.S. Army Japan commanding officer Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison. Fleet Activities Yokosuka commanding officer Capt. David Owen’s opening remarks he punctuated by channeling his best Hank Williams Jr.: “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?” Naval Air Facility Atsugi commanding officer Capt. Steven J. Weiman was also on hand.

It was great to see the new version of Kinnick’s Football Fanatics out in force, running the concession stand and selling Red Devil Football T-shirts. Coaches Dan Joley and Robert Stovall indicated that the Fanatics, who were as much a part of the fabric of Kinnick football in the mid-1990s as the cheerleaders are to the Dallas Cowboys, have been revived to inject life into the gridiron culture. Some memorable times, watching George Thompson, Jared Warner and LaShawn Williams light it up on the field as the “old” Fanatics did with their pork adobo dinners.

Then, there was Jonathan Parker and the Kinnick Red Devils marching band, who entertained the crowd – on both sides of the stands – all game long.

The game’s best hair? That belonged to Dustin Kimbrell of Kinnick, who dyed his coif into a kind of Mohawk designed like the University of Michigan Wolverines helmets.

Question about the game’s future is, where will it be held next year? I’d like to see it go back to Kawasaki, where it began in March 2010, but officials on both sides said they would like for it to continue to be held on a base.

That will likely mean Yokota, since Darrell Mood, the school’s principal detached to Zama American as its acting principal until the end of the school year, said he would like to host it next March. That is, unless Joley is able to convince school administration to keep it next year.

Mark plus 21.

Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports season Week 4.0

It was noble in concept when then-district superintendent Mike Diekmann put a true DODDS Japan sports circuit on the map for school year 1999-2000.

Schools in far-flung locales, E.J. King, Matthew C. Perry and Robert D. Edgren no longer had to go longing for competition against their Kanto Plain brethren; they each now have full-fledged schedules in football, volleyball, tennis, cross country, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, track and soccer.

Problem is, the weather sometimes is uncooperative and the calendar always is, at least where tennis, baseball, softball, track and sometimes soccer are concerned.

Purely by chance, the last two weekends have proven to be rain magnets. Heavy rain, sideways rain, the sort of rain that settles in and keeps up all day or all weekend.

Two Kanto Plain track and field meets got called off 17 hours before they were to begin on Saturday, an international-schools meet at Tokyo’s Kinuta Park and a DODDS all-comers meet at Camp Zama. This, a week after a combined Japan schools practice meet at Zama got almost completely washed out, except for a few running events. Guess the meet organizers didn’t want to take a chance after that March 10 washout. Wise decision.

Baseball and softball were completely out of the conversation on March 9-10 at Zama. Perry, King and Edgren did get in some boys and girls games at Yokota, Zama and Nile C. Kinnick on Friday, but Saturday’s action was a wash. Soccer matches did get played at Sasebo, where E.J. King’s fields are turfed, and at Iwakuni, where Perry’s match organizers got creative in clearing the field; more on that later.

It’s an exercise in frustration, especially since most weekends are filled, wall to wall, with long-haul matches on the schedule. It’s 360 miles from Tokyo to Misawa, some 560 miles to Iwakuni and 780 to Sasebo. It’s much easier to reschedule Kanto Plain matches, when the schools are so much closer. It’s nigh onto impossible to reschedule DODDS Japan sports events of most any type once postponed. Worse, there are fewer options for the outlying schools, where international schools are fewer or more distant than in the Kan-to and Japanese schools have their own leagues.

***

Squeegees are normally associated with tennis courts when rain turns hardcourts into skating rinks. Mark Lange, Matthew C. Perry’s boys soccer coach, continues to make creative use of the court driers on a different sort of court – the soccer pitch.

From 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Lange and his star striker Tyelor Apple, among others, wielded Squeegees to clear off enough water from Lake Perry (Lange’s nickname for the school field when it becomes waterlogged due to heavy rain) so that Robert D. Edgren and the host Matthew C. Perry Samurai could play, albeit on a shortened field. The two schools teed it up, then played a mix-and-match game as the two sides used each other’s players in a friendly match.

“Masters in the bag, working on my doctorate,” Lange posted on Facebook in response to me calling him, “Lord of the Squeegee.”

***

In between raindrops, Perry’s boys improved to 11-2 on the season, and the DODDS Japan season should likely come down to the Samurai and the 3-0 Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils. Jay Schlesinger, Marcus Boehler and Zach Yoder have been white hot, as have region goal-scoring leader Apple (20), Gaku Lange (15) and Yuta Fleming (12).

Over in Korea, Gyeonggi Suwon International (7-0) and Seoul Foreign (8-0) continue to point toward their April 14 showdown, which will likely mean first place in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I season. And it’s a pretty wild scrum underneath those two, where any of four teams can finish third.

GSIS has certainly improved in the KAIAC D-I girls season, 4-1-1. Taejon Christian International (4-2-2) is on the Knights’ heels, but everybody is chasing Seoul Foreign (8-0), which will likely win yet another regular-season title and KAIAC tournament top seed at Seoul American on April 27-28. Just don’t sleep on Daegu High, which is a notoriously slow starter but always catches fire come late April.

Bragging rights among girls in Japan belong to Kinnick (4-0) and Zama (4-1), led by Kaile Johnson and Rachel Walls with eight goals each. They’ll tee it up Monday evening; the Red Devils will take command if they win.

***

On Okinawa, where bad weather was hardly a bother (for once), Rahman Cairnes gave Okinawa Christian International School a rare triple gold-medal performance as the first Okinawa Activities Council track and field meet of the season was held Friday at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.

Cairnes won the long jump, 100- and 200-meter sprints, breaching the 11-second mark in the 100, clocking a 10.99 in mid-March with seven meets left before Far East in late May. It’ll be interesting to see if he can challenge the Pacific record, 10.54, set last season by Andre Watson of Kubasaki.

Derrick Taylor scored double-gold for Kadena, winning the 400 and 110 hurdles, while Kadena’s Janika Caines swept the long jump and 100 and Columbus Wilson of Kubasaki the high jump and 300 hurdles.

Kubasaki ruled the distance courses, as freshman Erik Armes and junior Allie Reichenberg each swept the boys and girls 1,500 and 3,000. A strong opening statement by Armes, the freshman triathloner who won the boys gold medal in last November’s Far East cross-country meet.

On the soccer pitch, Kadena’s boys record leveled at 1-1 after losing 1-0 on Friday against a combined squad of Okinawa Diplomats youth players and Mil United adult strikers. And the Dragons baseball team struggled against adult opposition of its own, falling 12-1 Saturday against the Ryukyu University Stingray.

Nick Barker of Kubasaki returned from a finger injury suffered during the wrestling season and scored a goal right off the bat on Sunday at Kubasaki, but Konan High School, more renowned for its Japan National Championship Baseball Tournament title team, rallied for two second-half goals to beat the Dragons 3-2.

***

Guam’s spring sports (fourth-quarter) season begins very soon, and with it, the Guam High Panthers, the reigning island champions, will take to the pitch for the first time since winning the second island championship in school history, but without striker Meagan Speck, who’ll play next fall for North Carolina-Charlotte, and All-Island midfielder Lexi Vermeire.

Still, the Panthers have reason to be excited as the season approaches. All-Island keeper Melanie Strudthoff will return in the net and at midfield, while freshman Tayler Kukes, who plays for Guam’s U-14 national team, will fill Speck’s spot, and I’m told she’s got a solid left foot. And there won’t be a five-month layoff between the island’s girls soccer season and Far East.

Kubasaki pulls softball shocker on Kadena

Don’t look now, but a Kubasaki Dragons girls softball team will soon be gaining on you.

That warning shot came Thursday, a chilly, windy early evening when a pair of sisters named Santoyo, recent transfers from Hawai’i, and the Dragons put an end to four seasons of humility against their Okinawa Activities Council arch-rivals, edging Kadena 9-7 at Ryukyu Middle School.

23-game losing streak to the black and gold, up in smoke. First win over the Panthers since Game 1 of the 2008 OAC district finals, when Kubasaki took Game 1, then led in both Games 2 and 3 before iron-armed Monica Hayes pitched Kadena to come-from-behind wins.

From that point on, until Thursday, Kadena held a monolith over island softball, indeed, Pacific softball, the likes of which hadn’t been seen most anywhere. The Panthers won everything they entered. Nine straight island championships. Two DODDS Japan tournament titles. The inaugural Far East Tournament title in 2010.

A 14-10 defeat in the 2011 Far East gold-medal game to Seoul American last May 26, and Thursday’s loss to Kubasaki, may have signaled a changing of the guard, from Kadena dominance to wide-open chase for Far East gold. Not to say Kadena’s dropped off; the Panthers have not. It’s just that the rest of the field may be catching up to them.

The key reason: Pitching. In defeat, and despite keeping the ball up and allowing 13 hits, senior Kelly Kaneshiro was the main reason Kadena had a chance in the end to win the game. She gave up no walks and struck out six, did not hit a batter, did not throw a wild pitch.

Kubasaki’s pitchers have electric stuff; it’s location that’s an issue. Starter Shuri Seamans  and reliever Jackie Santoyo combined to give up just five hits, but walked 10, hit six batsmen and threw eight wild pitches.

But they gave up just five hits and struck out five. And Kadena was suddenly struck with a totally out-of-character case of poor defense, committing nine errors.

More than anything, even after falling behind 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, and after Dragons leadoff batter Adrienne Lee got thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double … Kubasaki did not give up, which was a hallmark of their lengthy losing streak to Kadena. Get behind, the eyes would roll and the body language would droop.

Not on Thursday. As longtime Dragons assistant coach Ashley Christman told the team after the game, Kubasaki controlled the pace of the game, keeping Kadena on its heels all evening.

And talk about a find. Jackie and Lucy Santoyo, late of Radford High in Honolulu, made a huge difference in the outcome.

Jackie, a junior who also has electric stuff that needs a bit of harnessing, pitched two innings of relief for the win.

Lucy, a sophomore nicknamed "Peanut" who was inserted into left field in the fourth inning, made perhaps the play of the game. In the bottom of the seventh, Kubasaki led 9-7 but Kadena had the bases loaded with none out. Santoyo caught a sinking line drive, then threw to third base to double off a Panthers runner. First and second, two out. The next batter grounded meekly to third.

Radford High’s loss is without a doubt Kubasaki’s gain.

And this year’s OAC regular-season series and championship finals should be far tighter and well contested than in years past.

Strangest batting line of the evening: Kadena’s No. 9 hitter, Nia Rodriguez, was hit by pitches THREE times, walked once and stole a base. Only player in the game without an official time at bat.

***

It looked as if Kubasaki’s girls and Kadena’s boys would pull away in rather dominant fashion during Wednesday’s OAC season-opening soccer matches at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.

Instead of that, Kadena’s 2-0 boys victory and Kubasaki’s 1-0 girls triumph served as exercises in first-half fireworks and second-half defensive lockdowns.

Makayla Palazzo converted a crossing pass from Liz Fabila into the girls match’s lone goal in the ninth minute, and the goalkeeping and defense held from there. Same occurred after Bradley Zaher’s two first-half goals for Kadena, one assisted by Kalvin Chase, but neither side could make a dent after that.

Most vocal goalkeeper in the region: Forget the sound meter; somebody get out the Richter scale when you’re standing near Kadena’s girls net. Angela McNatt without question could be heard at all corners of the field. Should be no reason at all for somebody to miss any guidance and direction from Kadena’s 18.

***

Interesting case of irony: Kadena boys assistant coach John Bivins was a Kubasaki student from 1990-92. Chris Eastman who coaches Kubasaki’s boys? Kadena Class of 1999, and even scored on a penalty kick to help the Panthers win the Far East tournament title in a shootout over Christian Academy Japan.

***

Who wouldn’t pay to fly to Suweon, South Korea, for the April 14 Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys Division I soccer match pitting Seoul Foreign at Gyeonggi Suwon International?

The two teams are neck and neck atop the standings, with the perennial power Crusaders going up against the up-and-coming Purple Knights, with a possible regular-season championship and top seed in the KAIAC tournament, scheduled for April 27-28 at GSIS, on the line.

Danny Kwon (6 goals) vs. Jacob Lunden-Welden (8). Former Taejon Christian International striker Andrew Wiese coaching GSIS.

Can’t wait for the KAIAC tournament.

Mark plus 18.

Track qualifying standards for Far East meet released

Let’s get right to the qualifying times and marks for this year’s Far East High School Track and Field Meet, scheduled for May 23-25 at Yokota High School:

100 – Boys, 11.5 seconds; girls, 13.2.
200 – Boys, 23.2; girls, 27.4.
400 – Boys, 53.7; girls, 1 minute, 4 seconds
800 – Boys, 2:06; girls, 2:34.
1,500 – Boys, 4:25; girls, 5:25.
3,000 – Boys, 9:54; girls, 12:30.
Boys 110 hurdles – 17.5.
Girls 100 hurdles – 19.0.
300 hurdles – Boys, 45.3; girls, 54.2.
400 relay – Boys, 46.4; girls, 53.4.
1,600 relay – Boys, 3:45; girls, 4:23.
3,200 relay – Boys, 9:45; girls, 12:00.
Shot put – Boys, 38 feet; girls, 28.
Discus – Boys, 112; girls, 78.
Long jump – Boys, 19; girls, 14 feet, 10 inches.
High jump – Boys, 5-8; girls, 4-7.

The times and marks are based on 10th-best time/mark among Far East meet competitors in 2010. Qualifying standards were not used in 2011 due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and its effect on the Pacific track and field schedule. Two major meets, the Mike Petty Memorial and Kanto Invitational, were called off; the Petty might have been used as a Far East qualifier.

These came out in an e-mail to coaches, meet organizers and athletics directors from Don Hobbs, DODDS Pacific’s Far East athletics coordinator.

In it, he said the 10 best times/marks in each of the 15 Far East events qualify in that event in the Far East track and field meet in May at Yokota.

In addition, any athlete meeting or surpassing the qualifying standards also can participate. All events will have at least 10 athletes qualify; some may have more if more than 10 athletes have met the standard.

Athletes in the Far East meet may enter no more than four events.

The Web site athletic.net will serve as the gatekeeper for all meet results to be posted and to be used to extract data to determine Far East qualifiers.

Coaches/meet directors must first have their meet results verified by a coach from another team participating in the event. That’s to uphold the integrity of the times and marks entered on Athletic.net. The results must be posted at Athletic.net no later than two days after each event and be forwarded to Hobbs and Far East meet director Tim Pujol a day after.

Meet officials must indicate whether their event was hand-timed when they enter the results into Athletic.net, which will then make standard corrections, adding .24 seconds to the 100 and 200 and .14 seconds to the 400 and longer.

Selection of the best 10 marks in the Pacific and/or those surpassing qualifying standards will come only from those athletes participating in the Far East meet, Hobbs said.

Why will Far East spring tournament fields be smaller?

All of the spring season (all two weeks of it), I’ve had people approach me asking why the DODDS Pacific Far East High School spring sports tournament fields are shaping up to be the smallest in history, with maybe seven or eight teams per soccer tournament.

First, let’s keep in mind, the baseball tournament May 21-24 at Camp Walker, South Korea, will boast a record field, now that E.J. King and Matthew C. Perry are playing spring baseball, instead of fall ball.

As to what may be keeping some international school teams away, keep in mind the domino effect caused by this year’s late start to the Advanced Placement exam period in May.

AP testing must take place over the first two FULL weeks of May, weeks that start the first Sunday in May. This year, that would be May 6, and the testing period would continue through May 17.

A year ago, the Far East soccer tournaments were played May 16-20 and the baseball, softball and track tournaments were held the next week. But that’s because AP testing began May 1.

Because of the late AP test date start, DODDS was forced to move the soccer tournaments one week later, and they’ll be played the same week as baseball, softball and track.

If you played soccer May 21-25 and delayed the rest of the tournaments to the following week, you’d be pushing track, baseball and softball into June, which would interfere with final exams and graduations.

As it is, some international schools will likely beg out of Far East this spring because their graduations take place in late May. And there’s simply nothing that can be done about it.

Actually, there is, if DODDS worldwide were to consider wholesale changes in when school years and sports seasons begin and end.

As is the case with many school districts in the States, begin the school year in early August, instead of late August. Football season begins in mid-August and ends in late October. Basketball would begin in early November and end in late January. Spring sports would start in mid-February and end with Far East tournaments in late April to avoid the peak Golden Week travel period. No interference with AP testing. No two-week break from long-haul sports trips due to AP testing.

But that’s another story for another day.

Team USA’s complete Tomodachi Bowl roster

As promised, here’s the complete roster for Team USA for Sunday’s Tomodachi Bowl, the friendship football game scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field. Jersey number, name, school, position, weight and year in school:

2 David Coleman, Zama, WR/DB, 175, Jr.
3 Quinton Holden, Kinnick, WR/DB, 160, Jr.
5 Hayden Jardine, ASIJ, QB/DB, 200, Sr.
6 Ken Yajima, ASIJ, RB/DB, 160, Jr.
7 Richard Castillo, Zama, RB/DB, 165, Sr.
9 Stanley Speed, Yokota, QB/DB, 170, Jr.
17 Mitchell Harrison, Zama, RB/LB, 170, Jr.
23 Morgan Breazell, Yokota, RB/DB, 150, Jr.
24 Dustin Kimbrell, Kinnick, RB/DB, 170, Sr.
30 Haru Kent, ASIJ, RB/LB, 175, Jr.
31 Andre Encarnacion, Zama, RB/DL, 205, Jr.
32 Sam Hopkins, ASIJ, TE/DE, 180, Sr.
33 Aaron Stravers, Kinnick, RB/LB, 185, Jr.
41 Trenton Traylor, Yokota, RB/LB, 160, Sr.
42 Philip Burnett, Yokota, RB/LB, 205, Jr.
50 Brandon Goodfleish, ASIJ, OL/DL, 220, Sr.
51 Anthony Bernardi, ASIJ, OL/LB, 185, Sr.
52 Tyler Noyes, ASIJ, OL/DL, 195, Sr.
54 Henry Wallrapp, ASIJ, OL/DL, 205, Jr.
55 Jesse Christmas, Yokota, OL/DL, 180, Sr.
56 Jerrell Fuller, Yokota, OL/DL, 210, Sr.
61 Alex Banks, Kinnick, OL/DL, 170, Jr.
62 Roland Cote, Zama, OL/DL, 240, Sr.
64 Jake Jackson, Yokota, OL/DL, 205, Jr.
65 Dylan Kessler, Yokota, OL/DL, 220, Jr.
66 Jesse Hogan, Yokota, OL/DL, 240, Jr.
72 Gabriel Malate, Zama, OL/DL, 180, Sr.
78 Victor Madaris, Yokota, OL/DL, 220, Jr.

As you can see, quite a bit of beef, most of it from the Panthers and Mustangs, for Team Japan to try to move around. Still, I don’t see a repeat of the 61-0 curbstomping Team USA administered the last time the teams met in March 2010 at Kawasaki Stadium; the Japanese are preparing hard, they’re bringing a talented group and this should be a much closer game.

Things learned, observed in Pacific spring sports season Week 3.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer begins immersing himself fully into the spring sports season, getting better and better gradually with every passing day:

If Saturday’s Okinawa Activities Council season-opening baseball game was any indication, this year’s season series between Kubasaki and Kadena could be as competitive as any we’ve ever seen, a see-saw affair won, 5-3, by the Dragons with three runs in the top of the seventh.

It was the first OAC baseball game ever played at the Four Diamonds Complex on Kadena Air Base. Originally built in the early 1980s for softball, Kadena’s 18th Force Support Squadron’s athletics department configured one of the fields for baseball, putting up a pitcher’s mound and extending the baselines from 60 to 90 feet. At 280 feet, the fences are a tad short, but incredibly, the dimensions are even larger than those at Chibana Recreation Center, which this field replaces.

It was also played before a crowd of close to 200, partisan black-and-gold fans seated near the third-base dugout where the Panthers were, and white-and-green advocates seated along the first-base line and near the Kubasaki dugout. And the fans were anything but subdued.

And they had plenty to be excited about.

Richard Allen’s pitching performance, for starters. The Dragons senior right-hander looked dominant the first four innings and got out of a jam in the seventh, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out 11.

He did get nicked for a two-run pinch-hit double by Brandon Stef – a freshman put in a clutch situation cold off the bench and coming through – and Justin Sego’s RBI single in the sixth to give Kadena a short-lived 3-2 lead. But he never gave up on himself, nor his team.

Kadena’s new coach, Kent Grubbs, rested his pitching fortunes on two freshmen, Sego in relief and Scott Carrell as the starter.

They looked good in spots, each striking out three batters, but Carrell kept getting in trouble via the walk (five) and Sego got in trouble thanks to two hit batsmen and a wild pitch in the last two innings, and an unfortunate throwing error that threw open the floodgates in the seventh.

Heroes of the game: Ryan Burks of Kubasaki broke a 3-3 deadlock with his third hit in four trips, driving in the game’s final two runs.

And though Sego took the loss, we’re talking one incredibly talented athlete who sparkled in football and showed much potential as a middleweight wrestler. You can tell he played ball in the States before he arrived here. Knows how to get in the pitcher’s head once he gets on base, has a good, live arm and great basepath speed. Once he gets control over his pitching arsenal, look out.

Most intriguing strategy was Kubasaki coach Randy Toor sacrifice bunting almost every time he got a runner on first base. I’m sure the tactical arsenal will increase over time, maybe adding the hit and run and other forms of non-conventionality.

Part of that also is the fact that Kubasaki – as well as Kadena – is a young team. Plenty of sophomores on each side who have a year’s experience under their belts, with more youngsters to come.

***

At least Kadena and Kubasaki got a chance to play despite the chilly weather with spots of rain here and there.

Zama American and Robert D. Edgren’s baseball and girls softball teams never got to bat, what with the horrid weather that pretty much didn’t let anything get played. Soccer got played on Friday, but not on Saturday. Most of the track-and-field events such as hurdles and jumps got washed out during the Kanto Plain practice meet.

“Sideways rain,” it was described by Zama principal Darrell Mood. Temperatures cold enough to make it miserable and not cold enough for it to snow. Called Yokota and advised their girls soccer team not to come to Zama. And back home went the Eagles.

Weather, while cold and cloudy, was less of a bother at Sasebo Naval Base, where Nile C. Kinnick’s and E.J. King’s baseball and softball teams and Matthew C. Perry’s baseball side got their seasons off the ground.

***

Looking in the short run as if Gyeonggi Suwon International’s and Seoul Foreign’s boys will likely run a neck-and-neck race to the finish of Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I soccer race, not to mention two boys named Jacob (Son of GSIS, Lunden-Welden of SFS) could lead the goal-scoring chase from start to finish.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Remember, this was the league in which a year ago any one of six teams could have won the regular-season and/or tournament title. And even the seventh team beat the No. 2 team twice during the season.

Right now, Yongsan International-Seoul is on SFS’ and GSIS’ heels at 3-1 and Seoul American is rolling fourth at 2-1. And remember, Seoul American won the boys D-I Far East last May.

While Seoul Foreign’s girls ride atop the pack at 5-0, note that GSIS’ and TCIS’ girls can very easily turn the girls race into a free-for-all as well. And Daegu High and Osan American’s girls are notoriously slow starters who heat up once frigid March becomes balmy May.



***

Had a chance to watch Kadena’s girls and Kubasaki’s boys soccer teams play over the weekend, the Panthers tying Itoman 1-1 and the Dragons losing to Shuri 5-1.

And if there’s one thing that stands out about each, it’s they have potential oozing from all pores. A vast lot of them are young and new to each school and will stay until they graduate, and will matriculate under coaches who truly understand the game.

What I really liked about Kadena’s girls was the back line. Madeline Velazquez and Stephanie Mobley, each back with the team after a two-season hiatus, move quickly, react well to danger from opponents and have HUGE right legs that can send balls vast distances. And that play by Sam Clark, winning the ball from the clearly out-of-position goalkeeper and scoring the first goal … I mean, wow. The celebration was tempered five minutes later when Itoman leveled the match. But Kadena had SO many chances to score; it could have been a 5-1 or 6-1 Panthers victory.

What I didn’t like about Kubasaki’s boys’ loss to Shuri was Shuri’s defense getting totally lax and careless, putting a drop pass to the goalkeeper into the net by mistake. Then, there was the Dragons’ defense surrendering four Shuri goals in an 11-minute span. I’m sure things will be different when veterans Nick Barker and Cristian Rivera can return to the lineup.

Mark plus 14.

Camellia Bowl to morph into Tomodachi Bowl on Sunday

It was one of the biggest spring sports events to not take place last March, canceled in the hours after the Great Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake, which struck at 2:46 p.m. March 11 and triggered devastating tsunami that destroyed whole towns and cities and caused a nuclear crisis.

The Camellia Bowl was to feature DODDS and international-school football players from Japan's Kanto Plain and Okinawa, against Japanese counterparts from Kangawa Prefecture, last March 12 at Kawasaki Stadium.

This year, the game has morphed into the Tomodachi Bowl, a game defined by its Japanese title, which means "friendship." This year's game will be limited to American players from the three DODDS schools and American School In Japan from the Kanto Plain, and will also be a symbol of gratitude on both sides for pitching in and helping out with the cleanup and rebuilding following the disaster.

And like the first edition of the Camellia Bowl in March 2010, this one, while not quite as star-studded as the one that wasn't a year ago, still counts quite a few luminaries on the American roster.

Helming the American offense will be Hayden Jardine, making his second Camellia/Tomodachi start, he who led ASIJ to a 7-1 Kanto Plain record and a 9-2 overall mark, going 79-for-163 for 1,192 yards with 12 touchdowns and 187 yards and seven TDs on 31 rushing attempts.

Joining him in the backfield likely will be Yokota running-back tandem Morgan Breazell (1,022 yards, 121 carries) and Tre Bailey (765 yards,  57 carries) among others, with much of the line that powered the Panthers to their first Far East Division I football title plowing the road. Andre Encarnacion (967 yards, 14 TDs, 144 carries) and Mitchell Harrison (817, 5, 90) of Zama American will likely also suit up.

Should be a great day not only of football, but a sobering remembrance of nature's devastating power and a force that's even greater: That of allies coming together to help each other in their most desperate hours.

We'll publish the rest of the roster when it becomes available.

Pacific Wrestler of the Year: Zama's Wilder becomes 'The Next One'

Talk about answering the question emphatically for a Zama American wrestling program hankering to replace graduated three-time Far East gold medalist Michael Spencer. Chad Wilder, a transfer from Florida, more than proved to be up to the task, capturing Far East tournament gold at 141 pounds, becoming the second straight Trojan to earn Outstanding Wrestler honors and the fourth in school history. Click here to read all about the Pacific's high school Wrestler of the Year.

Pacific girls basketball Player of the Year: Daegu has the Wright stuff

She may be dwarfed by most of her teammates on the court ... well, except sisters Michelle and Leanne Quizon, perhaps ... but Sarah Wright has played like a giant on the basketball court the past two years. The point guard headlined a group of super sophomores who have been together since elementary school, and which last month captured Daegu High's second Far East High School Girls Division II Basketball Tournament title in three years and the third in school history. Click here to read all about the Wright stuff.

Pacific boys basketball Player of the Year: Free throws show the way

In this amped-up basketball highlight-reel world of NBA-length three-point shots and slam dunkathons on steroids, the art of the free throw, one of the game's most basic fundamentals, has become lost in the maze. Not to Kubasaki's C.J. Crenshaw, though. The senior guard shot 91 percent from the line after the Christmas break and his Dragons benefitted as a result, winning their second Far East Division I Tournament title in as many years, third on coach Jon Fick's watch and 11th overall, a Pacific record. Click here to read Crenshaw's story and view the Stars and Stripes' Pacific All-Far East Divisions I and II teams.

Pacific baseball preview: Is ASIJ still the 'team to beat?'

Is American School In Japan still the Pacific's "team to beat" where the Far East High School Baseball Tournament is concerned? It depends on who you talk to, but among a majority of coaches, the answer is yes, given the wealth of returning talent the Mustangs possess. Does anybody else in the region stand a chance? Click here to preview the season and here to view important dates and team capsules.

Pacific softball preview: Kadena aiming for top again

Who would be so bold as to assert that the team, Seoul American, that beat them in the finals last year didn't necessarily win the Far East High School Girls Softball Tournament title but merely borrowed it? Kelli Wilson, who assumes the Kadena Panthers helm from Jesse Costa, is suggesting just that, and that Kadena is taking dead aim at reclaiming the title throne it captured in 2010. Along the way, a run at a 10th straight Okinawa Activities Council district title is also on the line. Click here to preview the season and click here to view important dates and team capsules.

Pacific soccer preview: Korea to remain dominant?

A season ago, the Far East High School Soccer Tournaments could very easily have been called the Korea Invitationals. Seoul American's boys won the Division I title for the first time in school history, while at the small-schools level, Yongsan International-Seoul captured its fourth overall gold and third in four years and Osan American's girls three-peated theirs. Will we see more of the same, or is it time for a change? Click here to preview the upcoming season and here to view important dates and team capsules.

Sailor-wrestlers battle Japanese counterparts in All-Japan tournament

The Yokosuka Seahawks wrestling team pitted their skills against their Japanese counterparts last weekend in the All-Japan Military Wrestling Tournament at Asaka base north of Tokyo.

Gabriel Wishon of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington came away with the most honors, earning a bronze medal at heavyweight plus the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler award, according to Seahawks coach Takashi Noda.

The GW’s Justin Parker (185) and Ship Repair Facility’s Yasunobu Nagashima (145) each took fifth in his weight class. Other Seahawks members participating included Kouzou Yoneshige (163) and heavyweights Chris Lomeli, Lars Moberg, Charles Scaife and Justin Parker.

WPS’ Sky Blue FC to train, play on Okinawa in late March

Soccer fans on Okinawa will get a sort of postscript to last year’s women’s World Cup when Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer takes on INAC Kobe Leonessa of Japan’s Plenus Nadeshiko League on March 24 at Comprehensive Park in Awase.

The match, part of a doubleheader featuring tour host FC Ryukyu, is the culmination of a 10-day tour by the two sides, with matches scheduled in Kagoshima and Okinawa.

Prior to the March 24 match, Sky Blue FC will train at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium, according to an FC Ryukyu news release dated March 6. It’s part of an effort to generate community outreach on base.

For more, visit FC Ryukyu’s page on Facebook.

 
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Ornauer on AFN

 

Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)

 

Aug. 29: High school football is back and Dave talks about the prospects of DODDS teams in Japan.

May 30: Recapping ASIJ's and Zama's Far East baseball championships that capped the Pacific high school sports school year.

May 23: A look back at the Far East track championships and a look ahead at the ongoing baseball finals.