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Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports season Week 10.0.

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer flops on his face having crossed the first major checkpoint nearing the end of the school year:

OK, I’m convinced.

And it takes a whole heckuva lot to convince me.

For months, prior to my arrival Friday at Gyeonggi Suwon International School for last weekend’s postseason tournament, I was told how much Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys Division I soccer was golden, da bomb dot com and countless other things to make me believe it was aces, top shelf, etc.

They were right.

Top team to bottom team, this is as knowledgeable, deep and competitive a league as I’ve ever seen. Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s boys and girls teams of the Zendejas-Foote-Abel era of the early to mid 2000s will forever top them all, but never have I seen nine teams in one league on such a level.

From the start of the eighth- vs. ninth-place match on Friday, Osan American vs. Daegu High, I’m watching as these two teams work their tails off. I don’t mean filling the net – the Cougars’ Jacob Ives got the match’s lone goal – but how there was no let-up by either team, working, digging, hustling, making intelligent soccer decisions, not trying to do too much but staying within their abilities.

“Gad, I want to see the TOP teams, if this soccer is so good,” I said to both Osan and Daegu coaches.

From every team’s elite stars to the last men off the bench, we’re talking people who clearly understand the game of futbol. They are quick. They’re cool. They’re clinical. They’re wise. Coaches who have played the game, some of them professionally, and are expert at breaking down tendencies of their own and other teams’ players. And coaches who don’t leave at the drop of a hat like many within DODDS or in other sports.

And that extends into the stands at Knights Field in eastern Suweon, where Gyeonggi Suwon International School hosted the two-day, 14-match tournament. The fan support was utterly intelligent, soccer-wise and very sportsmanlike. And the host school, just six years in existence, clearly gets tremendous support, whether the boys or girls team is playing; even to the point where girls spectators brandished Vuvuzela a la the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. And that was for a non-title match.

A great time. A fun two days of soccer. And some really powerful matches. A couple of coaches who also attend the DODDS Pacific Far East tournaments remarked about how they like the KAIAC tournament because “Far East is easier.”

Defending Far East Division I champion Seoul American can’t help but get better as Far East approaches. Same with the Falcons girls, who lost a heartbreaking penalty-kick shootout to Seoul Foreign in the D-I girls tournament at Seoul American’s Sims Field. Yongsan International-Seoul’s boys, who played what first-year coach Harry Creech called a “roller-coaster” of a season, sure looked as if they came alive during KAIAC and are more than prepared now to defend their D-II title.

Having seen virtually every boys soccer team in Japan, Okinawa and Korea play matches, right now, I’d put Nile C. Kinnick, Matthew C. Perry and perennial Far East D-I power Christian Academy Japan in the same class with KAIAC D-1’s elite, Seoul American, YIS-Seoul, Seoul Foreign and GSIS. How I’d love to see them come to Far East, rather than have their season end the last weekend of April.
***
Witnessed a bit of history coming to a close on a rainy, dreary Wednesday in Taejon – the last matches on the old “rice paddy,” the name affectionately given Taejon Christian International’s old dirt soccer field, which will be retired along with the rest of the campus which will move across town, with the soccer team’s playing on a turf field next spring.

Some of KAIAC’s greatest players, including GSIS boys coach Andrew Wiese and sisters Karin and Nina Aaltonen, graced those environs over the years that the former Korea Christian Academy carried a guidon as one of KAIAC’s charter-member schools. Not sure that anybody would miss the field, but the memories, man, if they could talk …

Eatery of the week has to go to the TCIS cafeteria above the aging gymnasium. A lasagna that was so good, only two people I know have made better (and they know who they are).
***
What I figured would happen when American School In Japan got its full complement of athletes together for the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools track and field finals, happened. Great balance and solid athletes in distance specialists Trevor Maggart and Michelle Stolle and jumper-sprinter Liz Thornton, they took first in both the boys and girls, and look primed to make deep runs at both the Kanto Invitational and Far East meets next month.

Still, somehow, I can’t believe that Nile C. Kinnick had its full complement of athletes available for the Kanto track as well as its soccer matches over the weekend at Robert D. Edgren.

Take absolutely NOTHING away from host Edgren’s strikers and ASIJ’s tracksters – Edgren, with Kierra Davis and sisters Jen and Vanessa Black, is on the rise and could make some serious noise at the D-II soccer tournament at Iwakuni, and ASIJ has always and forever been a track power.

But put Emily Stith in goal and Val James on the track … and we’ll see what happens.
***
As we prepare for a Far East baseball tournament without defending champion American School In Japan, I’d like to pass along some advice I used to get from a religious leader I used to know when I was based in Alabama in the 1970s:

Leave it alone.

The milk is spilt, the tournament organizer is new and didn’t know about ASIJ, the debate will rage for months about “Well, if ASIJ were there …” and so on for those who have little to do but talk about it.

Speculate all you want. Cast all the aspersions you desire. It won’t change a thing. The Mustangs won’t be there. Edgren, Zama American, E.J. King, Osan American and host Daegu High will play for the Division II title and Yokota, Kinnick, Seoul American, Kadena, Kubasaki and Guam High will battle for D-I bragging rights.

Let’s get past what happened, move on and make the Far East as good a tournament as the 11 participating teams can possibly expect, then bring ASIJ and St. Mary’s International into the fold for next year’s tournament, wherever that may be. And make the experience for the Mustangs and Titans as good as one could possibly expect when they join the fold next year.

Pacific high school girls softball Fine Five

In case you’re thinking that the girls softball Fine Five hasn’t changed from three weeks ago … you’re absolutely right. It’s all about pitching, and until the rest of the Pacific develops more of it, Kadena and Kubasaki should be the teams to beat:

1, Kadena, Okinawa. Now up on Dragons 3-2 in season series with two games left.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Can just as easily won the seasons series as finish 2-5 against Panthers.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Red Devils have to be wondering how they can give Robinson another year or three of eligibility; may be the Pacific’s finest player of our time.
4, E.J. King, Japan. Nikka Stephens tossed a no-hitter against Yokota.
5, Seoul American. Still top of Korea’s heap, but how much will playing just Osan and Daegu (and the occasional Korea team) help prepare the young Falcons for Far East?

Pacific high school baseball Fine Five

American School In Japan remains the team to beat, but since the Mustangs weren’t invited to Far East, no way for them to prove it on the Pacific stage. No matter what happens at Far East, they’ll always say: “Well, if ASIJ had been there,” etc.

Here goes:

1, American School In Japan. We’ll see the Mustangs come 2013.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Now stands in line for its second Far East Division I tournament title in three years.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Ross & Ross remain on fire; Red Devils leapfrog Edgren after three-game weekend sweep.
4, Robert D. Edgren, Japan. Still the best of the Division II lot; Eagles hadn’t lost since first weekend of season when Kinnick came to town.
5, Kadena, Okinawa. Baseball’s version of team waiting in the wings for one of the big dogs to falter.
Team on the edge: Seoul American. Falcons and Panthers will join Dragons, Red Devils in D-I Final Four.

Pacific high school track and field Fine Five

Who executes, who brings the best balance and who arrives at Far East in the best of health – that will determine the cream of the crop in the Pacific track and field field:

1, American School In Japan. From distance specialist Trevor Maggart to sprint and jump queen Liz Thornton, the Mustangs may be the most balanced of all.
2, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. The Kanto Plain finals don’t speak to how good this team is; get all their athletes back and it will make a Red Devil of a noise.
3 (tie) Kadena and Kubasaki, Okinawa. They continue to run neck-and-neck in the team standings with the district finals coming Saturday.
4, Seoul American. Still dominant in Korea; will they have enough preparation for the Far East jump and throw events?
5, Zion Christian Academy. Waiting in the wings in case somebody stumbles at Far East.

Pacific high school soccer ratings, post-KAIAC tournament edition

The bulk of the regular season is now through, just a handful of matches remaining before Far East (which is a full three weeks away yet!). One huge leap in the boys’ list by a team that’s clearly ready to defend its Far East Division II title. Here are the post-Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference ratings:

Boys
1, Christian Academy Japan (4-0).
2, Yongsan International-Seoul (11-3-3).
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (13-1-2)
4, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (25-3-2).
5, Seoul American (12-5-1).
6, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (14-3).
7, Seoul Foreign (16-4-1).
8, Kadena, Okinawa (3-1).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (12-8-2).
10, Seoul International (5-10-2).

Girls
1, Seoul Foreign (22-1-1).
2 American School In Japan (4-1-1).
3, Notre Dame (7-0-0)
4, Southern, Guam (6-0-1).
5, Kubasaki, Okinawa (6-2).
6, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (13-2-3)
7, Yokota, Japan (13-4).
8, Seoul American (10-5-3).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (10-4-2).
10, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (9-5-2).

Think these ratings are full of hooey? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember: You’ve entered THE “No-Hate Zone.”

Follow KAIAC boys Division I soccer live

Can’t make it to the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys Division I soccer tournament? Here is the next-best thing to being there: a live stream of the games.

Courtesy of Gyeonggi Suwon International School’s student-driven sports leadership council, which does everything from keeping scoreboards and scorebooks at school sports events and now has entered the world of live-streaming of game and tournament action.

Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports season Week 9.0

Off-base venues continue to make their case for hosting future Far East high school sports tournaments. Case in point: Last Friday’s visit by three DODDS Japan soccer-playing schools to Kuga Park, a turfed-field facility some 30 to 45 minutes northwest of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

The question being, in this climate of budget cuts threatening everything from weapons systems to personnel benefits and – yes – DODDS high school activities, might the brakes be put on such thinking, shifting to how we can keep these tournaments alive to begin with?

Off-base venues have long been an attraction to Far East tournaments and those who host them, as well as regular-season events.

E.J. King and Robert D. Edgren have run DODDS Japan cross-country meets off base, out in town at Sasebo and Misawa. The 2007 season-ending Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference tennis tournaments were held at Duryu Park in south-central Taegu, South Korea, a facility that features 11 spotless courts plus a stadium court where Far East tournament gold-medal matches could easily be held. Far East tennis tournaments in 2005 and ’06 were held at the Guam National Tennis Center in Hagatna and also at Tiyan.

Last Friday, coaches from all three schools were discussing the merits of having a Far East soccer tournament at Kuga. The facility is inexpensive to rent, about $1,000 for a whole week plus chalk for lining the fields (you do that yourself, plus clean up afterward) and for use of lights for night matches. All of that could come out of tournament entry fees, plus whatever cost savings DODDS is still realizing from ticketing teams for air travel through off-base vendors.

Billet the participants at Iwakuni, bus them back and forth Make sure you don’t use the meeting rooms. Plenty of room for teams to stake out their own spots to kick it between matches. Plenty of drink vending machines. Pristine setting, surrounded by mountains with deafening silence. Only drawback: People would have to bring their own picnic baskets, since there’s no eatery close by.

But these days, the rumour mill has spun wildly with speculation over the future of Far East tournaments and activities, which have increased exponentially over the last three years.

Those, along with about 60 other agenda items, are being discussed at this week’s DODDS Pacific Far East Athletics Council meeting at Mendel Elementary School at Yokota Air Base, Japan. This may be the most important FEAC meeting in decades, given how Congress and the current administration have targeted the Defense Department for hundreds of billions in cuts. An obvious target would be DODDS schools and their activities, which had been the case in 1981 and 1986.

Most certainly, any talk of creating an expanded high school football schedule including inter-conference regular-season games between Division I and Division II teams is being looked at closely. Will the plan get off the ground as discussed, will it be enacted in bits and pieces or will it be tabled altogether?

Also seeping out of the bottom door rim has been talk about making Far East tennis, cross-country, baseball and softball tournaments biennial, as tennis and cross country had been since their inception in 1976 until 2004, when they became annual events.

Another idea being bandied about is trimming participants, cutting volleyball teams to nine players, basketball to nine, soccer to 14, cross country to four and football to 22 or 23 players.

Especially in Japan, where exorbitant travel costs are further exacerbated by the weak dollar, in-country regular-season travel for the fall, winter and spring seasons could see drastic cuts, or replacing flights to and from Sasebo Naval Base with Shinkansen rail jaunts, which would save about 20 percent. Other rail journeys could be replaced by bus trips.

More talk has centered on eliminating E.J. King and Matthew C. Perry travel to the Kanto Plain and Misawa Air Base and vice versa, having the Cobras and Samurai play expanded Western Japan Athletic Association schedules.

One way to save more money would be to have more DODDS Korea vs. DODDS Japan competition between E.J. King and Matthew C. Perry and Daegu High and Osan American, perhaps with another Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference school involved.

Do it over the Columbus Day weekend. The KAIAC and Osan teams could bus to Daegu. Perry and King could bus to Kitakyushu or Shimonoseki and take the high-speed hydrofoil across the Tsushima Strait, costing FAR less than flying them via Air Pusan from Fukuoka to Kimhae International Airport. Daegu High would send buses to pick up King and Perry at Pusan port, then go the 1½ hours to Camp Walker. Two or three full days of competition, volleyball at Kelly Field House and the old Daegu American School Warrior Gym and tennis at Duryu Park. Then send everybody home filled with great competition and memories. Same drill for basketball in and wrestling in winter and all the spring sports; track and field could be held at Korea National University’s eight-lane facility.

Anything would be better than having these Far East tournaments, as well as the new non-athletic activities such as Harvard Model Congress, Film and Entertainment Arts, Creative Expressions and older ones such as Far East Journalism, face the budget ax. They give students experiences that they otherwise would not get boxed up in the classroom. Instead of cutting events outright, how about finding creative ways to keep things going while trimming fat? Then every side comes away with a little something.

Pacific high school soccer ratings, pre-KAIAC edition

Boys
1, Christian Academy Japan (3-0).
2 (tie), Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (11-1-2) and Matthew C. Perry, Japan (23-3-2).
4, Seoul American (9-4-1).
5 (tie), Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (11-2) and Seoul Foreign (13-3-1)
7, Yongsan International-Seoul (8-3-3).
8, Kadena, Okinawa (2-1).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (5-6-2).
10, Seoul International (4-6-2).

Girls
1, Seoul Foreign (17-1).
2 (tie), Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (10-1-1) and American School In Japan (4-1-1).
4 (tie), Notre Dame and Southern, Guam (each 6-0-0).
6, Yokota, Japan (9-4).
7, Kubasaki, Okinawa (5-2).
8, Seoul American (7-4-3).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (7-3-2).
10 (tie), Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (6-4-1) and Matthew C. Perry, Japan (9-5-2).

Think these ratings are full of hooey? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember: You’ve entered THE “No-Hate Zone.”

Far East track and field meet qualifiers, Part Due

With the Far East meet about a month away, here’s an update, thanks to Athletic.net and Pacific records gatekeeper Bruce Carrick, of who has qualified for Far East track and field, based on schools likely to be invited to the meet:

100 (boys 11.5, girls 13.2)
Boys,
Rahman Cairnes, OCSI, 10.90a; Preston Brooks, Yokota, 10.96a; Tyrend White, Seoul American, 11.25a; Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki, 11.31a; Justin Smith, Nile C. Kinnick, 11.37a; Ronald Dogan, Seoul American, 11.38a; Stanley Speed, Yokota, 11.46a..
Girls, Janika Caines, Kadena, 12.66a; Kelsey Scott, Seoul American, 12.68a; Valerie James, Nile C. Kinnick, 12.94c; Davette Campbell, Osan American, 13.04c.

200 (boys 23.2, girls 27.4)
Boys,
Preston Brooks, Yokota, 22.64c; Rahman Cairnes, OCSI, 22.84a; Tyrend White, Seoul American, 22.94c; Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki, 23.08a.
Girls, Liz Thornton, American School In Japan, 26.22a; Janika Caines, Kadena, 26.54c; Jade Cummings, Zion, 26.64c; Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 26.80a; Kelsey Scott, Seoul American, 26.82a; Jenna Doyno, ASIJ, 26.84a; Valerie James, Kinnick, 26.92a; Chinyere Turner, Kadena, 27.24c.

400 (boys 53.7, girls 1:04)
Boys,
Justin Smith, Kinnick, 52.06a; Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 52.38a; 2, Keishi Nambara, OCSI, 52.54a; Donavan Ball, Yokota, 52.94a; Tyrend White, 52.94c; Justin Clemenson, Kubasaki, 53.29a; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 53.44c.
Girls, Jenna Doyno, ASIJ, 59.88a; Jade Cummings, Zion, 1:01.74c; Valerie James, Kinnick, 1:02.36; Chinyere Turner, Kadena, 1:02.56; Pamela Henderson, Seoul American, 1:03.14; Electa Miller, SAHS, 1:03.24c; Tyren Ward, Zama American, 1:03.77a.

800 (boys 2:06, girls 2:34)
Boys,
Trevor Maggart, American School In Japan, 2:04.11a; Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 2:04.70a; Stephen Magnusson, Kinnick, 2:06.03a; Joshua Ilustre, George Washington, 2:06.05; Kai Layden, ASIJ, 2:06.38a; Michael Faulkner, Yokota, 2:06.83a.
Girls, Carydaliz Fontanex, Kinnick, 2:30.16a; Abigail Wall, Yokota, 2:31.12a; Misaki Nakagawa, Christian Academy Japan, 2:33.61a..

1,500 (boys 4:25, girls 5:25)
Boys,
Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 4:15.14a; Trevor Maggart, ASIJ, 4:21.31a; Kai Layden, ASIJ, 4:22.96a; Robert Beard, Kinnick, 4:24.68a.
Girls, Amanda Henderson, Seoul American, 5:01.23a; Allie Reichenberg, Kubasaki, 5:09.80a; Abigail Wall, Yokota, 5:17.80c; Michelle Stolle, ASIJ, 5:23.77a; Carydaliz Fontanez, Kinnick, 5:24.80c; Misaki Nakagawa, CAJ, 5:24.87a.

3,000 (boys 9:54, girls 12:30)
Boys,
Trevor Maggart, ASIJ, 9:15.22a; Robert Beard, Kinnick, 9:27.89a; Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 9:32; Koh Terai, St. Mary’s International, 9:51.70a; Akira Shavers, Zion, 9:52; Andrew Kilkenny, Kadena, 9:52.5; James Brooks Cannell, ASIJ, 9:53.22a.
Girls, Amanda Henderson, 11:10.53a, Allie Reichenberg, Kubasaki, 11:10.97a; Michelle Stolle, ASIJ, 11:32.53a; Maku Itakura, Seisen International, 11:50.83a Abigail Wall, Yokota, 11:53.1; Miranda Remington, Seisen, 11:58.60a; Sam Fugate, Kubasaki, 12:06; Theresa Kern, Seisen, 12:07.19a; Rachel Burchill, Kadena, 12:10.16a; Runa Suzuki, CAJ, 12:11.15a; Kate Greathouse, Kinnick, 12:15.61a; Rei Morikawa, ASIJ, 12:20.26a; Hikari Suzuki, International School of the Sacred Heart, 12:25.59a; Carydaliz Fontanez, Kinnick, 12:26; Kelly Justiniano, CAJ, 12:27.57a.

110 hurdles (boys 17.5)
Fred Gustafsson, Yokota, 15.53a; Dustin Kimbrell, Kinnick, 15.58a; Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 15.77a; Charlie Seno, ASIJ, 15.98a; Mitchell Harrison, Zama American, 17:27a. Jarred Morgan, Yokota, 17.50a.
100 hurdles (girls 19.0)
Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 17.80a; Danielle Balfour, Kubasaki, 17.94a; Kelsey Rodgers, Kadena, 18.26a; Pashence Turner, Kadena, 18.30a; Micaela Sherman, Kubasaki, 18.41a; Jayla Bradley, Kinnick, 18.64c; Ariana Gordon, Daegu High, 18.74c; Sabine Hirano, ASIJ, 18.91a; June Garrett, Zion, 18.94c; Saki Fujita, ASIJ, 18.97a; Sierra Daughtry, GWHS, 19.02a.

300 hurdles (boys 45.3, girls 53.4)
Boys
, Fred Gustafsson, Yokota, 40.46a; Dustin Kimbrell, Kinnick, 41.58a; Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 41.75a; Sam Johnson, CAJ, 42.68a; Charlie Seno, ASIJ, 43.06a; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 43.39a; Yoshiki Kawada, ASIJ, 43.52a; Ghi Chong Lew, St. Mary’s, 43.94c; James Cortez, Yokota, 44.40a; Clark Williams, Kadena, 44.74c; Mitchell Harrison, Zama, 45.02a; Anthony Sherman, Kadena, 45.03a; Mason Lautzenheiser, Kubasaki, 45.23a; Jhellani Olton, Kubasaki, 45.35a; Devyn Harris, Guam High, 45.35a.
Girls, Pashence Turner, Kadena, 48.43a; Kelsey Rodgers, Kadena, 49.93a; Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 50.18a; Jenna Doyno, ASIJ, 50.54c; Josie Mitchell, Kubasaki, 52.06a; June Garrett, Zion, 52.44c; Candace Bowman, Zama, 52.68a; Arrianna Guerra, Zion, 53.16a; Sierra Daughtry, GWHS, 53.64a; Elizabeth Warner, Seisen, 53.74c; Danielle Balfour, Kubasaki, 53.77a.

400 relay (boys 46.4, girls 53.4)
Boys,
Yokota, 44.26a; Kinnick, 45.03a; ASIJ, 45.73a; Kubasaki, 46.04c; Seoul American, 46.21a, Kadena, 46.44c; OCSI, 46.44c.
Girls, Kadena, 51.54a; ASIJ, 52.73a; Kinnick, 52.90a; Guam High, 52.91.

1,600 relay (boys 3:45, girls 4:23)
Boys,
Kinnick, 3:36.81a; ASIJ, 3:39.92a; Seoul American, 3:40.00; Yokota, 3:41.38; John F. Kennedy, Guam, 3:43.37a; CAJ, 3:43.81a.
Girls, Seoul American, 4:22.05a; ASIJ, 4:22.67a.

3,200 relay (boys 9:45, girls 12:00)
Boys,
Zion, 8:56; Kadena, 8:58; Kinnick, 9:02.64a; Kubasaki, 9:07; Yokota, 9:09.2; CAJ, 9:13; St. Mary’s, 9:20.9; Zama, 9:36; SAHS, 9:45.8.
Girls, ASIJ, 10:55:55a; Kubasaki, 11:11; CAJ, 11:32.10a; Zion, 11:34; Kinnick, 11:35.9; Yokota, 11:39.14a; SAHS, 11:45.10; Kadena, 11:59. Don’t be surprised if the Red Devils nose in front of this field.

Shot put (boys 38 feet, girls, 28 feet)
Boys,
Gabe Ahner, Kadena, 41-0.12; Ray Dionisio, GWHS, 40-9.37; Craig Hollins, Zion, 40-9; Nijee Smith, Guam High, 40-4.65; Pete Smau, Simon Sanchez, 40-4.25; Eli Peterson, CAJ, 38-9.35; Chris Schehl, Kubasaki, 38-2.16; Roland Cote, Zama, 38-2.
Girls, Christian Garner, Zama, 31-3.59; Mecca Perkins, Seoul American, 31-0.25; Kendra Peterson, CAJ, 29-11.84; Jasmine Jackson, Daegu, 29-7.25; Trellini Lunsford, Osan, 28-6.5.

Discus (boys 112 feet, girls 78 feet)
Boys,
Roland Cote, Zama, 145-3.7; Luke Taylor, CAJ, 120-2.13; Gabe Ahner, Kadena, 118; Jesse Hogan, Yokota, 117-4.66; Chris Schehl, Kubasaki, 114-8.
Girls, Mecca Perkins, Seoul American, 100-4; Jasmine Jackson, Daegu, 94-8; Kendra Peterson, CAJ, 89-8.38; Christian Garner, Zama, 83-7.54; Niyah Lewis, Zama, 82-2.22; Kiah Horton, Kinnick, 78-6.52; Trellini Lunsford, Osan, 78-0.50.

Long jump (boys 19 feet, girls 14 feet, 10 inches)
Boys
, Kenjo Maeji, ASIJ, 19-10.19; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 19-3.6; Keith Smith, Kadena, 19-3; Jason Aquino, Okkodo, and Preston Brooks, Yokota, 19-0.35.
Girls, Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 15-8.19, Liz Thornton, ASIJ, 14-10.74.

High jump (boys 5 feet, 6 inches, girls 4 feet, 7 inches)
Boys,
 Justin Smith, Kinnick, 6-1.62; Ian Pope, Zama, 5-8.9; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 5-9.81; Kenjo Maeji, ASIJ, 5-8.9; David Hernandez, ASIJ, 5-8.11.
Girls, Arrianna Guerra, Zion, 5-0; Val James, Kinnick, 4-11.84; Christianna Dale, ISSH, 4-9.87; Keila Welky, Kubasaki, 4-9.33.

Developing defense has Falcons boys soccer soaring

Don’t look now, Seoul Foreign and Gyeonggi Suwon International, but a Falcon is creeping up on you.

Since starting 3-4-1, Seoul American’s boys soccer team has been positively on fire, staying unbeaten in its last six matches, including Wednesday’s 3-2 edging of GSIS on the Falcons’ home Sims Field turf. David Voelker scored two goals, giving him a team-leading 11 this season, and David Neaverth added a goal and an assist.

The defense, a question mark entering the season, has suddenly become a strength of the team and mainly responsible for the Falcons’ rise to third place in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I standings, with the postseason tournament eight days away.

“All along, we knew we had the offense,” coach Steve Boyd said. “It was a question of developing the defense. I knew it would take time to get the depth going.”

Boyd made some tweaks and adjustments, moving people around until he found just the right mix, and “we have six of them now,” he said of his defensive cadre.

Seoul American’s victory came despite the Falcons missing three starters, defender Harold Martin, forward Andrew Clark and midfielder Jay Han. “And we still won. We had some kids come off the bench and did a great job,” Boyd said.

The Falcons’ victory wasn’t the only surprise on Wednesday. For the third time in four regular-season matches, Korea International beat Seoul International 1-0, reinforcing Boyd’s belief that “on any given Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, anybody can beat any team in this league.”

No chance for ASIJ to defend Far East baseball tournament title

A most unfortunate set of circumstances has conspired to stand in the way of American School In Japan’s defending the title they won last May in the 2011 Far East High School Baseball Tournament. And the Mustangs’ longtime Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools rival St. Mary’s International won’t be joining the party, either.

An “honest oversight,” DODDS Pacific sports officials characterized it. Initially, the tournament’s new organizer, Jay Langlois, and Daegu High’s athletics director Ken Walter had planned to invite just the six DODDS Division I and six Division II schools to the tournament. For whatever reason – perhaps because no international schools in Korea play baseball, perhaps despite ASIJ’s record each international school flew under Langlois’ and Walter’s radar – both ASIJ and St. Mary’s were overlooked, although it seems hard to conceive the defending champion being overlooked.

Last week, several parties, the schools themselves and DODDS school officials acting on behalf of ASIJ and St. Mary’s, informed DODDS Pacific’s athletics coordinator Don Hobbs, who contacted Langlois and Walter to see if the situation could be rectified. By then, it was too late, officials said, for three reasons:

­­-- The tournament’s format, pool play and modified elimination play for both large and small schools, was set and could not be changed. More than possible, with just the two fields at Camps Carroll and Walker available, field time reserved for only a set amount of hours months in advance and given that soldiers and their events get priority on those fields.

­­-- Billeting rooms needed to be found for 30 more players and four coaches. Not something that can’t be overcome; I’m sure ASIJ and St. Mary’s wouldn’t have minded staying off post in a yeogwan. And again, soldiers and the mission take priority at Walker Lodge and its annex.

-- Base clearance. This is almost always the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Dozens of base-clearance requests are processed daily by every U.S. Forces Korea base, some of which have more strict local rules and guidelines than others. Special rules regarding players from countries other than Korea and the U.S. add more time to the process. Since we’re talking high-school baseball teams with mostly non ID-card holders, they’re shuttled to the back of the line and processed when the Provost Marshal’s office has time. It can take weeks, even months; had ASIJ and St. Mary’s gotten the OK to be fit into the tournament format and billeting found, they’d have had 31 days to gain clearance before arriving, which may or may not have been enough time.

“I’ll take the heat for it,” Hobbs said, adding that he plans to take a more firm hand in guiding first-time Far East tournament directors in who may be invited, DODDS and non-DODDS to future tournaments, and a more concerted effort would be made to include ASIJ and St. Mary’s next year.

ASIJ athletics director Brian Kelley and St. Mary’s coach Tim Vanderpool said they were already taking a look at alternatives to Far East, possibly taking a joint venture to China or Taiwan to play teams there. Jim Small of Major League Baseball International has children attending ASIJ, and Mustangs veteran Nathan Lorentz’s dad, Doug, has connections in the international baseball community as well. “We’ll do our best to honor these kids,” said Kelley of his senior-laden Mustangs team.

Kelley and St. Mary’s AD Tom Molina each received telephone calls from Hobbs on Thursday to give them the news.

“I was surprised. We’re defending champions. I didn’t think it was fair. I’m not complaining, but it’s too bad,” Kelley said, adding that he plans to more vigorously pursue invitations to Far East tournaments in baseball and other sports. “We’re thinking Far East tournaments (are) where we want to go. That’s where our traditions are.”

“We’re disappointed, but we understand,” Molina said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we get invited to one.”

My take: I sincerely believe this was not a case of DODDS Pacific “protecting its own.” Those days have long passed us; the door for international schools to re-enter Far East in all sports was reopened last school year. ASIJ will send teams to both the Far East track at Yokota and Far East girls soccer on Okinawa. Honest oversights happen. Langlois and Walter didn’t bode ASIJ or St. Mary’s ill. We’ll see them at Far East baseball next year.

FEAC meeting: Time to standardize Pacific softball game time limit

DODDS Pacific should address the question of standardizing its various girls softball league’s bylaws to ensure everybody’s operating from the same sheet of music regarding game time limit: Should there be one or not be one?

And it should be discussed starting Monday at the next Far East Athletics Council meeting at Mendel Elementary School on Yokota Air Base, with all 12 DODDS Pacific athletics directors in attendance.

The issue was brought to light Wednesday in a DODDS Japan game at Yokota. With the host Panthers leading 12-9 and Nile C. Kinnick batting with one out in the top of the sixth, the home plate umpire called the game, saying the 90-minute time limit had expired.

Coach Katrina Kemper protested that the Red Devils’ half of the inning still had to be finished, but to no avail, then on Thursday filed a formal letter of protest to DODDS Pacific’s athletics coordinator Don Hobbs via e-mail.

In going around the room and discussing the issue with a few DODDS Japan athletics directors, there seems to be major disagreement over whether there is or is not a 90-minute time limit within DODDS Japan for regular-season games. “That’s a good question. I really couldn’t tell you,” one said.

Last month’s DODDS Japan tournament’s games at Yokota were played under a 90-minute limit, and perhaps the officials at Yokota were under the impression that was the case for regular-season games as well. Okinawa Activities Council’s game time limit is two hours, DODDS Korea’s limit is 90 minutes.

DODDS Pacific is an affiliate member of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Nowhere in the NFHS rulebook is there a time limit for girls softball games, though it’s permissible for individual states or leagues to incorporate a time limit into its bylaws, provided the coaches, ADs and officials associations agree.

And whether there is a time limit or not, Kemper has a very valid point: Once an inning starts and the losing team is at bat and/or the home team, the inning must be finished, regardless of whether time expires. The only exception to that is if weather conditions turn bad (lightning, flooding) or other extenuating factors, such as darkness or an earthquake.

My take: I’d love to be a fly on the wall when this gets discussed Monday at Yokota. We will see standardization in one form or another, and I suspect they’ll side with the 90-minute limit, at least until pitching across the board improves dramatically in all leagues. Right now, the base on balls is every team’s chief weapon.

Four more individuals, three relay teams qualify for FE track

Contrary to yesterday’s blog post, a Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools track and field meet WAS held at Tokyo’s Oi Pier Grounds, near Tokyo International Airport.

Just three high schools attended, Christian Academy Japan, Seisen International and St. Mary’s International; others chose not to compete, citing rain and cold weather – which has been the pattern all season.

Congratulations to four individual athletes and three relay teams that qualified for next month’s Far East meet at Yokota:

­­-- Sam Johnson, CAJ, 300 hurdles, 42.88 seconds (fully automated timing).
-- Theresa Kern and Maku Itakura, Seisen, 3,000, 12 minutes, 14.3 seconds and 12:20.2.
-- Kendra Peterson, CAJ, discus, 24.81 meters (81 feet, 5 inches).
-- CAJ boys, St. Mary’s boys and CAJ girls, 3,200 relay, 9:13.0, 9:20.9 and 11:32.1.

Saturday’s schedule shows Kanto split meets, one at Oi Pier Grounds, the other at Yokota, followed by the Kanto Plain finals April 28 at Yokota; May 5 is the fallback rain date, and given the nasty weather this season, it may be needed.

Is there no end to this weather madness?

Yet another weekend, yet more rain. Can't get a break even during the Easter break.

Saturday’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools track and field meet and Zama American vs. American School In Japan baseball doubleheader at Fuchu Civic Stadium were each postponed, thanks to a sixth rainy weekend out of the last seven.

Only Saturday’s U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League preseason game managed to get played, an 8-0 Yokota Warriors victory at the Yokosuka Seahawks, a game truncated to three quarters and played with a running clock in the last two periods.

It just feels as if the weather is playing us. Weekend after weekend, Ma Nature keeps throwing us haymakers. In the Yokota-Yokosuka game’s case, it was played in that stiff breeze that blows, spindrift-like, off the northeast quadrant of Berkey Field. Temperature was 52 degrees, but real-feel was more like 42, and rain and sleet blew in ceaselessly.

And it’s not Japan alone feeling Ma Nature’s wrath. Anybody catch that wild thunder and lightning storm (or series thereof) Friday on Okinawa? It. Was. Crazy. Somehow, some way, Kubasaki’s boys soccer team managed to get in one half against Mil United (match ended 2-2) before play was called.

Fortunately, the weather cleared off in time for the 8th Okinawa-American Friendship Baseball Tournament at Urasoe Stadium to begin; Kubasaki led things off by mercy-ruling Urasoe’s Swallows 11-4 in the opener.

At Osaka, where the weather was somewhat civil, Matthew C. Perry’s boys soccer team won the inaugural Association of International Schools in Asia tournament at Senri-Osaka International School.

The Samurai won 2-1 in overtime and avenged a Friday loss to Yokohama International, and the winner game on my favorite play in soccer, the Golden Goal. It was netted by Samurai senior striker Tyelor Apple, who finished the weekend with 46 goals in open-field, 11-on-11 situations.

That puts him within two goals of the DODDS Pacific mark of 48 set in 2001 by Zama American’s Jimmy Flatley, and within 15 of the Pacific’s overall record of 61 set in 2008 by Seoul Foreign’s Remco Rademaker.

Yes, I have peeked ahead at the long-range weather projections for April 20-21. Yes, the forecasts call for rain. Again.

SFS-GSIS futbol series-to-end-all-series settles … nothing

Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Council’s boys soccer league had never seen anything quite like what occurred in something of an 18-hour span on Friday and Saturday, a home-and-home weekend series with first place on the line between longtime power Seoul Foreign and rising power Gyeonggi Suwon International.

It was certainly the Pacific’s most competitive boys league’s most crucial regular-season series of our time and maybe for all time (Seoul Foreign’s Jack Moon, the league’s unofficial historian, could speak on that subject). Had one team or the other swept the two matches, it would likely have meant earning the top seed in the KAIAC tournament April 27-28 at GSIS.

Instead, the series solved … nothing. SFS won 2-0 on Friday and GSIS replied 4-1 on Saturday, each winning on its home turf. The Crusaders remain in first place at 10-2-1 with 31 points, while the Purple Knights remain one step to the rear, 10-1 with 30 points.

To find any sort of advantage, one must dig ’neath the standings point totals and final scores:

-- In terms of team possession and control of the action, GSIS held a 2-1 advantage, outshooting SFS 21-10 in Friday’s match. It was a matter of finishing. The Knights failed to do so on Friday, getting what coach Andrew Wiese called “poor play” from his wings. On Saturday, GSIS came back and finished the job, getting a hat trick from Won Ho Park.

“The wings took it to heart that they played poorly on Friday” and came back to finish strong on Saturday, Wiese said.

 
­­-- It seemed like the Crusaders stole the momentum when Jacob Lunden-Welden in the 70th minute notched his 10th goal of the season. A comeback seemed imminent … until GSIS took the ensuing draw at field center, and Danny Kwon tapped a through pass to Park who scored less than a minute after Lunden-Welden’s goal. Game, set, match, Knights.

“That was the turning point,” Wiese said.

-- The Crusaders head to Kobe, Japan, for the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament this week, and have but one KAIAC regular-season match remaining, while the Knights have three and can ultimately catch SFS for the top KAIAC tournament seed on its home turf.

Stay tuned, though. This could get really good.

Yokota hoops 2-guard Manegan to suit up for Merchant Marines

Yokota Panthers senior shooting guard Warren Manegan is expected to take pen to paper Monday and sign a national letter of intent to play basketball for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

He calls the chance at playing NCAA basketball and getting a quality education "an opportunity of a lifetime."

Hail Crenshaw, Fern, Hardeman, Stripes’ winter Athletes of the Quarter

For C.J. Crenshaw and Kubasaki's boys basketball team, success was measured, especially in the second half of the season, in ones. Where Faith Academy’s girls team was concerned, success was measured in one hugely meaningful pair – Grace Fern and Kelly Hardeman.

The three seniors made their exits from the Far East Tournament stage in high style, as Crenshaw’s Dragons and Fern’s and Hardeman’s Vanguards brought home the gold, Kubasaki for the second straight year, the third time on coach Jon Fick’s watch and Pacific-record 11th title, Faith its sixth D-I crown and second in four years and 10th Far East title overall, including four D-II golds.

Crenshaw averaged 21 points per game for Kubasaki (23-15), but at the foul line was where the guard made his greatest impact. He shot 75 percent from the line for the season, and an eye-popping 91 percent after the holiday break.

Before a mostly partisan chamoru crowd at the Charles King Fitness & Sports Center on Naval Station, Guam, Kubasaki beat Okkodo of Guam 55-47 on Feb. 25 in the D-I Tournament final. Crenshaw, who was named the tournament’s MVP, shot 6-for-9 from the foul line and Kubasaki as a team went 10-for-15 in the last 3:43.

“He’s an outstanding young citizen,” Fick said of Crenshaw. “He deserves everything he gets.”

At Yokota High School’s Capps Gym, hosting the girls D-I Tournament for the first time since 1989, the “Grace & Kelly Show” played to its final curtain, as the two combined for 44 points in powering the Lady V’s past Kadena 57-33 in the Feb. 25 gold-medal game.

It was the second D-I tournament title in four tries for Hardeman and Fern – they finished second twice to Seoul American the previous two years after beating the Falcons when the two were freshmen – and the two played so well together that even coach Joshua Manthe couldn’t decide which one would be tournament MVP … so the two shared the honor.

“It was a peak in a journey that is far from over, and one that will most likely bring higher, more exciting mountaintops to climb,” Manthe said of Fern, who averaged 18 points, 5 steals and 5 assists per game, and Hardeman, who averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Of losing four straight Far East D-I Tournament finals to Seoul American in three sports over a 1½-year span, Manthe said: “It’s tough on kids to work so hard and to be right there but to continually come up short. … A lot of kids that age would crumble, they would throw in the towel, but not these girls. They got back in the saddle every time, worked harder, had more determination, always eager for another opportunity to prove themselves, no matter how many times they came up short.”

-- Coach of the Quarter/Team of the Quarter: Daegu High’s girls basketball team was thought to be in full-blown rebuilding mode. The Warriors’ Big Three, Kristina Bergman, Gulee Kwon and Angie Robinet, had graduated. Not only did Daegu have to replace its coach of more than a decade, Michelle Chandler, but new coach Ed Hearn stepped down for personal reasons early this season. Enter the fray stepped athletics director Ken Walter, who’d never coached girls varsity ball in his life, along with the “Super Sophomores,” Lari Robertson, Sarah Wright and Kierra Pineda, along with senior transfer Raven Calloway. The Warriors lost but two times all season and won the Far East D-II title 32-20 over Robert D. Edgren.

-- Most improved team: Once senior point guard Jen Black got back into the Robert D. Edgren Eagles girls basketball team’s lineup, they soared. Edgren began the season 0-9, but went 13-6 the rest of the way, reaching the Far East D-II title game.

-- Best singular performance: Not only did Rebekah Harwell of Matthew C. Perry break the Pacific high school girls basketball single-game scoring record once – she matched the record of 44 set in 2009 by Kubasaki’s Gabby Falco, then shattered it with 52 points on Dec. 10 in a 66-41 romp over E.J. King in a Western Japan Athletic Association tournament at Canadian Academy in Kobe. Small wonder she was named Most Valuable Player of the Far East D-II Tournament.

-- Basketball games of the quarter: Yokota senior guard Warren Manegan experienced a very Dickens-like two days at the Far East Boys D-I Tournament on Guam, the best of times and the worst of times. His three-point goal as time ran out gave the Panthers a 45-43 first-round playoff win over George Washington. But the next day, the Panthers were eliminated in the quarterfinals on a buzzer-beater by Aaron Blas as eventual runner-up Okkodo edged Yokota 61-59 in overtime.

-- Wrestling dual meet/bout of the Quarter: It was almost an instant replay of last year’s Far East gold-medal dual, as St. Mary’s International repeated its title by edging host Nile C. Kinnick 33-25 in a result that was far closer than the final score indicated. The Titans needed the last two bouts to break a 25-25 tie and stay ahead for good. Sean Ward, St. Mary’s 215-pounder, won a close two-period decision over Kinnick’s Ian O’Brien to put the Titans ahead to stay.

-- Best Newcomer/Wrestler of the Quarter:
Zama American Trojans junior 141-pound wrestler Chad Wilder went 35-1 overall this season with four titles and one second in five tournaments after transferring from American Heritage in south Florida. He lived up to his billing as "the next one," the logical successor to Zama's three-time Far East champion Michael Spencer, by winning at 141 pounds and being named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

Warriors’ Calloway, Samurai’s Harwell move up in hoop world

Raven Calloway and Rebekah Harwell will soon take their basketball talents to a higher level.

Star guards in the Far East High School Girls Division II Tournament two months ago at Misawa Air Base, Japan, the Daegu High and Matthew C. Perry senior guards have signed national letters of intent to play on full scholarship at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss.

The LOIs were signed Friday afternoon at Yokota High School’s Capps Gym, site of a week-long basketball camp staged by the Mainland Basketball Association in Japan and the Creating Access to Educational Opportunities foundation in Houston.

 
“Their best basketball is ahead of them,” said PRCC assistant coach Zaria Williams, one of several coaches from seven stateside universities and colleges who instructed and scouted some 105 students from Japan and Korea at the camp.
 
Williams said she was impressed with Calloway’s “toughness and versatility, passion for the game and a great desire to get better.” Calloway helped lead Daegu to its second D-II Tournament title in three years and third in school history.

In Harwell, who earned D-II Tournament MVP honors, Williams said she saw “intensity, great defense, very unselfish. They will complement each other well at the next level.”

“Blessed. Speechless. It’s indescribable,” Calloway said.

“Very exciting,” Harwell said.

PRCC plays in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, in which the Wildcats have won a league-record combined 19 titles in all sports. Its alumni range from soft-rock songwriter Jimmy Buffett to Cornelius Griffin of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

Calloway and Harwell became the latest in a line of players recruited to play college ball from the camp, which was held last year on Okinawa. Kentrell Key of Kubasaki is on partial scholarship to Elizabeth City State (N.C.), one of the schools at this week’s camp.

“There’s talent over here and these coaches are looking for fresh new talent,” said John “Doc” Mayes, Prairie View A&M’s sports medicine director and one of the camp’s founding fathers. “If they like you, if they want to make you an offer, this is a big opportunity.”

Players from all six DODDS Japan schools plus Daegu and Osan American from South Korea, learned about better conditioning and fundamentals, incorporating basketball into life skills, plus learning how to qualify for walk-on and scholarship offers from universities, Mayes said.

“The way they came across, they meant business,” Calloway said of the college coaches at the camp. “You could tell the way they ran drills. They demanded discipline and made me want to play my best.”

Getting a taste of college coaching will help prepare the two newest Wildcats players for college ball, Harwell said.

“It’s going to be a lot of hard work,” said Harwell, who set the Pacific’s single-game scoring record of 52 points in December against E.J. King. “I’m nervous because it will be nothing like I’ve experienced, but excited because I’m doing something new.”

Still time to enter 22nd Pacificwide Open Softball Tournament

Still plenty of time and plenty of room for teams to sign up for the 22nd Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament, scheduled at the usual time (May 25-28) at the usual place (Yongsan Garrison’s Lombardo Field FourPlex in the heart of the capital of South Korea) where the usual people will be discussing and playing the usual thing.

The tournament is open to the first 16 men’s post-level or open teams, eight men’s company-level squads and eight women’s teams that sign up and pay their $500 entry fee by May 10, four weeks from now, organizers said.

As always, space is available for billeting at no cost at the Walker Center for 278 men and 52 women players. Other than off-base hotels, that’s the only option; Dragon Hill Lodge reservationists tell me the hotel is full Memorial Day weekend, as usual.

Mail checks and/or money orders to ensure they’re received by May 10 by Michael S. Lee, sports program manager, Headquarters USAGY-DFMWR, Unit 15333, APO AP 96205-5333. There is an exception for those who wish to pay by credit card; that may be done by 2 p.m . May 24 through Yongsan’s Moyer Community Recreation Center.

For more, contact Lee or Tim Higgs at DSN 723-3346 or by e-mail at
timothy.p.higgs2.naf@mail.mil or Michael.s.lee39.naf@mail.mil.

The tournament is sponsored by DRASH, a military clothier.

A home-and-home high school futbol series like no other

This ought to be good.

You want boys high school futbol at its highest level?

Try this Friday and Saturday’s home-and-home matches between Seoul Foreign, the longtime Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I power with nine straight regular-season and eight straight tournament titles, going up against the only unbeaten in the league this season, Gyeonggi Suwon International.

Friday on the Crusaders’ home pitch. Saturday at the home of the Purple Knights.

Crusaders (9-1-1) led by Jacob Lunden-Welden (10 goals) and Frederic Baertels (eight assists). Knights (9-0-0) powered by Jacob Son (nine goals) and Danny Kwon (eight goals).

One team sweeps the other, they’re in the driver seat for the top seed in the KAIAC tournament April 27-28, also at GSIS.

The two best teams in the Pacific’s best futbol conference. Either way, everybody will get their soccer’s worth.

Far East track qualifying deadline pushed back to May 5

Track and field athletes throughout the Pacific vying to qualify for next month’s Far East meet but worried that they might not have enough time left in the season to do so … relax. You have a week’s grace, until May 5, to meet the time or distance standard in your event.

Thanks to the bad weather last month which forced two meets in Japan to be called off, DODDS Pacific officials decided to push the deadline back, according to Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs.

But it comes with a big BUT – all times and distances have to be posted at Athletic.net absolutely no later than noon Monday, May 7. DODDS will then make contact with the schools on the top 10 times and distances in each event.

A reminder, athletes may participate in as many as four events and schools can have as many as two athletes per event. The best 10 times or distances qualify for Far East, but more may participate provided no athlete exceeds the maximum four events and schools don’t exceed the maximum two per event.

Pacific high school first-half track and field season analysis

With the season about half over, Stripes, with the help of Athletic.net and records gatekeeper Bruce Carrick, now examines those who have met published qualifying guidelines for next month’s Far East High School Track and Field Meet, scheduled for May 23-25 at Yokota High School.

We’ll go event-by-event, listing qualifying times and distances, with qualifying guidelines in parentheses and which athletes I predict to win those events at Far East. C indicates converted hand times, while A indicates fully automatic timing.

Athletes listed are those who compete in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Guam and whose schools are possible entrants in the Far East meet, assuming that American School In Japan, Seisen and St. Mary's International, International School of the Sacred Heart, Zion Christian Academy and Okinawa Christian International are invited to Far East.

Asia-Pacific Activities Conference and Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools athletes are not listed here, since by conference rules they are prohibited from competing at Far East. Others may be missing because their times and distances have not been posted.

There are four weeks left until the qualifying deadline.

Out on a limb I go:

100 (boys 11.5, girls 13.2)
Boys,
Rahman Cairnes, OCSI, 10.90a; Preston Brooks, Yokota, 11.04c; Tyrend White, Seoul American, 11.25a; Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki, 11.31a; Ronald Dogan, Seoul American, 11.38a. A total dogfight between the first four, but Cairnes should edge out the field, set a Far East record and perhaps a Pacific area record.
Girls, Janika Caines, Kadena, 12.66a; Kelsey Scott, Seoul American, 12.68a; Valerie James, Nile C. Kinnick, 12.94c; Davette Campbell, Osan American, 13.04c. Caines and Scott battled it out at the Mike Petty Meet, but James could very easily pass them as the weather up north thaws.

200 (boys 23.2, girls 27.4)
Boys,
Preston Brooks, Yokota, 22.64c; Rahman Cairnes, OCSI, 22.84a; Tyrend White, Seoul American, 22.94c; Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki, 23.08a. Another dogfight, with Cairnes winning out in the end.
Girls, Janika Caines, Kadena, 26.54c; Jade Cummings, Zion, 26.64c; Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 26.80a; Kelsey Scott, Seoul American, 26.82a; Valerie James, Kinnick, 26.92a. Caines and Scott rules the roost for now, but don’t be surprised if Loisel and James are found battling for gold in the end.

400 (boys 53.7, girls 1:04)
Boys,
Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 52.38a; 2, Keishi Nambara, OCSI, 52.54a; Donavan Ball, Yokota, 52.94a; Justin Clemenson, Kubasaki, 53.29a; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 53.44c. Taylor’s to win or lose.
Girls, Jade Cummings, Zion, 1:01.74c; Valerie James, Kinnick, 1:02.36; Chinyere Turner, Kadena, 1:02.56; Pamela Henderson, Seoul American, 1:03.14. Henderson could nose ahead of this tightly bunched field in the end.

800 (boys 2:06, girls 2:34)
Boys,
Trevor Maggart, American School In Japan, 2:04.11a; Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 2:04.70a. This duel I’d love to see; question is whether ASIJ will be invited/plans to attend, since it’s so late in the school year for the Mustangs.
Girls, none to this point.

1,500 (boys 4:25, girls 5:25)
Boys,
Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 4:15.14a; Trevor Maggart, ASIJ, 4:22.40a. The longer the distance, the tougher Armes, a triathlete and reigning Far East cross-country champion, seems to become; don’t count out Maggart, the reigning Asia-Pacific Invitational cross-country runner-up.
Girls, Amanda Henderson, Seoul American, 5:01.23a; Allie Reichenberg, Kubasaki, 5:09.80a; Abigail Wall, Yokota, 5:17.80c; Carydaliz Fontanez, Kinnick, 5:24.80c. Four very worthy competitors, but Henderson absolutely hates to lose, which will fuel her gold-medal run.

3,000 (boys 9:54, girls 12:30)
Boys,
Erik Armes, Kubasaki, 9:32; Akira Shavers, Zion, 9:52; Koh Terai, St. Mary's International, 9:52; Andrew Kilkenny, Kadena, 9:52.5. This one is Armes’ to win or lose.
Girls, Amanda Henderson, 11:10.53a, Allie Reichenberg, Kubasaki, 11:10.97a; Michelle Stolle, ASIJ, 11:34.4; Abigail Wall, Yokota, 11:53.1; Sam Fugate, Kubasaki, 12:06; Rachel Burchill, Kadena, 12:10.16a; Theresa Kern, Seisen, 12:14.3; Miranda Remington, Seisen, 12:19.2; Maku Itakura, Seisen, 12:20.2; Carydaliz Fontanez, Kinnick, 12:26; Kate Greathouse, Kinnick, 12:28.10a. Henderson-Reichenberg head-to-head for a second time this season … this will be breathtakingly close.

110 hurdles (boys 17.5)
Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 15.77a; Dustin Kimbrell, Kinnick, 15.99a; Charlie Seno, ASIJ, 16.12a; Mitchell Harrison, Zama American, 17:27a. Should be a pitched battle between Taylor, Kimbrell.
100 hurdles (girls 19.0)
Stefani Loisel, Guam High, 17.80a; Danielle Balfour, Kubasaki, 17.94a; Kelsey Rodgers, Kadena, 18.26a; Pashence Turner, Kadena, 18.30a; Micaela Sherman, Kubasaki, 18.41a; Jayla Bradley, Kinnick, 18.64c; Ariana Gordon, Daegu High, 18.74c; June Garrett, Zion, 18.94c; Tyren Ward, Zama, 18.94c. Loisel wasn’t at her best in last year’s Far East and is coming back with a belly full of redemption fire.

300 hurdles (boys 45.3, girls 53.4)
Boys
, Fred Gustafsson, Yokota, 41.02a; Derrick Taylor, Kadena, 41.75a; Dustin Kimbrell, Kinnick, 42.80a; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 43.39a; James Cortez, Yokota, 44.40a; Jarred Morgan, Yokota, 44.45a; Clark Williams, Kadena, 44.74c; Anthony Sherman, Kadena, 45.03a; Mason Lautzenheiser, Kubasaki, 45.23a. Gustafsson vs. Taylor, with Kimbrell waiting in the wings if one of them falters.
Girls, Pashence Turner, Kadena, 48.43a; Kelsey Rodgers, Kadena, 49.93a; Jenna Doyno, ASIJ, 50.54c; Josie Mitchell, Kubasaki, 52.06a; Candace Bowman, Zama, 52.68a; Arrianna Guerra, Zion, 53.16a. Why Loisel isn’t listed here, I don’t know; if she runs the 300, look for her and Turner to duke it out.

400 relay (boys 46.4, girls 53.4)
Boys,
Yokota, 44.26a; Kubasaki, 46.04; Seoul American, 46.21; ASIJ, 46.30. Expect this to be Yokota-SAHS, in no particular order; talk about guys who can fly.
Girls, Kadena, 51.54a; ASIJ, 52.73a; Guam High, 52.91. Panthers can fly also.

1,600 relay (boys 3:45, girls 4:23)
Boys,
Seoul American, 3:40.00; Yokota, 3:43.30; ASIJ, 3:44.23a. See 400 relay.
Girls, Seoul American, 4:22.05. Yes, Kelsey Scott, running the 1,600 IS fun.
J

3,200 relay (boys 9:45, girls 12:00)
Boys,
Zion, 8:56; Kadena, 8:58; Kubasaki, 9:07; Kinnick, 9:09.2; Yokota, 9:09.2; Zama, 9:36. This may be the best collection of boys athletes Zion has ever fielded.
Girls, Kubasaki, 11:11; Zion, 11:34; Kinnick, 11:35.9; Yokota, 11:39.14a; Kadena, 11:59. Don’t be surprised if the Red Devils nose in front of this field.

Shot put (boys 38 feet, girls, 28 feet)
Boys,
Gabe Ahner, Kadena, 41-0.12; Craig Hollins, Zion, 40-9; Nijee Smith, Guam High, 40-4.65; Chris Schehl, Kubasaki, 38-2.16; Roland Cote, Zama, 38-2; Eli Peterson, Christian Academy Japan, 38-0.3. Cote is capable of reaching 40; this final will be one for the ages.
Girls, Mecca Perkins, Seoul American, 31-0.25; Kendra Peterson, CAJ, 29-11.84; Jasmine Jackson, Daegu, 29-7.25; Trellini Lunsford, Osan, 28-6.5; Christian Garner, Zama, 28-6.13. We won’t see any records fall, but Perkins is clearly the superior thrower in this field.

Discus (boys 112 feet, girls 78 feet)
Boys,
Roland Cote, Zama, 141-6; Gabe Ahner, Kadena, 118; Chris Schehl, Kubasaki, 114-8. Cote’s 141-6 at Mike Petty was an absolute freak of nature, but if he repeats that, he’ll be tough to catch.
Girls, Mecca Perkins, Seoul American, 100-4; Jasmine Jackson, Daegu, 94-8; Kendra Peterson, CAJ, 87-9.94. See shot put.

Long jump (boys 19 feet, girls 14 feet, 10 inches)
Boys
, Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 19-3.6; Keith Smith, Kadena, 19-3. This category rates an incomplete at the moment.
Girls, Liz Thornton, ASIJ, 14-10.74. Same thing, incomplete at the moment.

High jump (boys 5 feet, 6 inches, girls 4 feet, 7 inches)
Boys,
Devyn Harris, Guam High, 6-6; Justin Smith, Kinnick, 6-1.62; Ian Pope, Zama, 5-8.9; Columbus Wilson, Kubasaki, 5-8. Lotty Smith’s 6-7 (2.0066 meters) is well within Harris’ reach.
Girls, Arrianna Guerra, Zion, 5-0; Christianna Dale, ISSH, 4-9.09; Keila Welky, Kubasaki, 4-8; Valerie James, Kinnick, 4-7.12. James might just catch and lap this field, but it’s Guerra’s to win or lose for now.

Anybody I miss out there? Anybody didn’t post their results to Athletic.net? As Larry the Cable Guy always says, “Git ’er done!”

We’ll do this again in a couple of weeks. Results courtesy of Athletic.net and records gatekeeper Bruce Carrick.

Pacific high school track and field Fine Five

Unlike baseball and softball which really take on the appearance of runaway races, the chase for Far East track and field individual and team honors may be the tightest among the four spring sports. The secret to success? Balance, and who possesses the best of it. Right now, by the thinnest of margins, that’s Nile C. Kinnick.


1, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Distance runner Robert Beard, sprinter Val James set the pace for this Red Devil of a track pack.
2 (tie) Kadena and Kubasaki, Okinawa. These teams are playing gnip-gnop with the weekly quadrangular team titles and have an abundance of stars – distance runners Erik Armes and Allie Reichenberg and sprinter Jarrett Mitchell for the Dragons, sprinters Derrick Taylor, Janika Caines for the Panthers.
4, Seoul American. Thought to be strong only on the girls side with the Hendersons leading the way, the Falcons’ boys sprinters, led by Tyrend White, showed it out at Mike Petty.
5, Zion Christian Academy. Believe it. The best collection of boys athletes, led by veteran Craig Hollins, in school history is joined by girls sprinter Jade Cummings, the logical successor to Sarah Wilson and Teauna Baker.

Pacific high school girls softball Fine Five

They say that good pitching is 75 percent of fastpitch softball. Okinawa has pitching in abundance, which is why Kadena and Kubasaki – and not necessarily in that order – stands as the favorite to bring home the Far East gold.

1, Kadena, Okinawa. The 1-2 punch of right-handers Kelly Kaneshiro and Lauren Youngs can be devastating. They don’t walk people.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Righty Jackie Santoyo may be the Pacific’s hardest thrower. And the Dragons are now competitive with Kadena.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Shortstop Michayla Robinson is arguably the finest five-tool player in the Pacific.
4, E.J. King, Japan. Nikka Stephens may be the most durable pitcher in the Pacific. Cut down on walks and she’ll be devastating.
5, Seoul American. Give left-hander Julia Ring a full season’s experience and she’ll be a shutdown starter.

Pacific high school baseball Fine Five

I’ll post three of these for baseball, softball and track and field, one now, one just after the Kanto Invitational track and field meet and one after the Far East tournaments.

As far as baseball goes, I’m still of the mind that American School In Japan is the team to chase, and the Far East tournament will remain a chase to see who finishes second. But that’s why they play the games on the field, and not in a ratings chart.

Here goes:

1, American School In Japan. Senior-laden lot is built to last with junior Bessie Noll, sophomore Justin Novak not going anywhere.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Not quite the power they were with all those arms they had two years ago, but still dominant, at least on Okinawa.
3, Robert D. Edgren, Japan. Believe it. The team that made such a deep Far East run last year is packed with good arms and has won every game since a weak opening weekend start.
4, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Ross & Ross. Two of the only things you need to know about this lot.
5, Kadena, Okinawa. Some really good, live arms that once harnessed can be dominant.

Pacific high school soccer ratings, Easter break edition

Little movement this week; only a few teams in action. Comments follow only those who played matches last week.

Boys
1, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (8-0).
2, Christian Academy Japan (2-0).
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (10-1-1).
4, Seoul Foreign (8-1-1): That loss to Seoul American = an absolute stunner.
5, Seoul American (8-4-1): Jay Han’s return IS making all the difference.
6, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (17-2-1).
7, Yongsan International-Seoul (6-2-2): Still competitive, but not the powerhouse it once was, at least not now.
8, Kadena, Okinawa (2-1).
9, Seoul International (4-5-1): Fairly uneven week, but still in the elite 10.
10, Zama American (4-5-4): See Seoul International.

Girls
1, Seoul Foreign (10-0).
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa (5-0): Need more matches with Japanese teams to hone game to fine edge.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (10-1-1).
4, Yokota, Japan (7-3) 7-1 in last eight matches entering break.
5, Seoul American (5-3-3): Up-and-down week for Falcons.
6. Guam High (2-0-0): Kinnick’s Kaile Johnson (27 goals) may be looking over her shoulder after awhile; Panthers’ Tayler Kukes has six goals in two matches; she and Jaelyn Freeman have 10 combined.
7, American School In Japan (2-1).
8, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (9-4-1).
9, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (5-2-2).
10, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (4-2-1).
(tie), Zama American, Japan (7-4-3): If Rachel Walls can return before end of season, this rating will be a lot higher.

There’s been very little talk about these ratings. Think they’re full of y0u-know-what? Shout it out! Be true to your school, but remember: You’ve entered THE “No-Hate Zone.”

Pacific high school soccer ratings, post-April Fools Day edition

Boys
1, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (8-0): Spring break last week.
2, Christian Academy Japan (2-0): Shutout win Monday over Nile C. Kinnick not only portends a close Japan race, but tight Far East as well.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (10-1-1): Still the best in DODDS Japan.
4, Seoul Foreign (8-0-1): Also on break last week?
5, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (17-2-1): Still scoring at phenomenal rate; Tyelor Apple now past century mark for his career.
6, Yongsan International-Seoul (5-2-1): Bounced back nicely after Daegu High shocked Guardians with scoreless draw.
7, Kadena, Okinawa (2-1): Bradley Zaher’s made a career in two matches with Kubasaki, both victories.
8, Seoul American (6-4-1): A healthy Jay Han could make all the difference.
9, Seoul International (3-4-1): Also on break last week
10, Zama American (3-5-3): Idle last week.

Girls
1, Seoul Foreign (10-0): Came off break solidly, blanking ICS-Uijongbu 8-0.
2, Kubasaki, Okinawa (4-0): Halfway toward season-series sweep of Kadena.
3, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (10-1-1): Got a surprise, a 2-2 draw Monday at Zama.
4, Yokota, Japan (6-3): Six-match win streak ends in muck at Matthew C. Perry .
5, Seoul American (5-3-3): Up-and-down week for Falcons.
6, American School In Japan (2-1): Been on break all last week; we’ll see how well they burst out of the gate. DISCLOSURE: Mustangs are 1-0 in league play, 6-1 win over Seisen International; ASIJ played a "friendly" each against Zama American (loss) and Yokota (win).
7, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (9-4-1): Huge weekend at home against Yokota, E.J. King.
8, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (5-2-2): On spring break last week.
9, Gyeonggi Suwon International, South Korea (4-2-1): See No. 8 TCIS.
10, Zama American, Japan (6-4-2): Gotta respect that Monday draw with Kinnick. Battling hard with the “other” Rachel (Boyle) doing serious damage.

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.”

True Korea ‘all-comers’ track meet at Olympic Stadium? Maybe

Well, that didn’t work out to well, the first attempt at a Korea “all-comers” track and field meet for high schools. The facility, Schoonover Bowl at Camp Casey, was as good as you’ll find in Korea, but Saturday’s meet was too far north of Seoul for the fringe targets, Korea’s international schools, to send their athletes.

So, the meet’s host, Seoul American, is planning to do something about it – arrange for DODDS Korea’s final regular-season meet to take place at the Chamshil Sports Complex, which hosted the XXIV Sumer Olympic Games in which Canadian Ben Johnson and American Carl Lewis staged their 100-meter race for the ages in 1988.

It’s a public facility, ridiculously inexpensive to rent, and it has everything you need to stage a complete meet.

How cool would that be? Winding up the regular season where history was made 24 years earlier (OK, the wrong kind of history; Johnson was DQ’d because of his ingestion … no, overindulgence … of Stanazolol). With good weather, those at the cusp of qualifying for the Far East meet next month at Yokota might just get the impetus and incentive to do just that.
***
Saturday’s results at Schoonover tells me that DODDS Korea’s girls throwers are going to make a serious mark. Simply a question of who will be best of the best. Seoul American’s Mecca Perkins, Osan American’s Trellini Lunsford and Daegu High’s Jasmine Jackson will still have their hands full with the likes of Kendra Peterson of Christian Academy Japan and Christian Garner of Zama American, to name two. But the Korea folks, throwers , jumpers and hurdlers, are merely overcoming a serious handicap – they have no jump or throwing pits or hurdles with which to practice. And they’re doing THAT well?
***
This week’s first warm-up meet for Far East, the 9th Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Meet at Kubasaki High School, will see a few changes.

Only eight schools, four on and four off island, will attend, the smallest Petty field since its second year in 2004. And unlike past years, field events will go first thing Friday morning, in an effort to avoid clashing with bad weather forecast for then.

Opening ceremony is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Friday. JV running and varsity field events lead off the parade at 9 a.m., followed by varsity running preliminaries and JV field events. Varsity running finals are slated for 9 a.m. Saturday.

And no, the meet’s founding father, retired Kubasaki coach Charles Burns, who was expected to return for the meet, will not be there, coaching his AAU team in Arkansas.
***
Prediction: The Mike Petty Meet will spark at least one rivalry, in the girls’ distance events, between two-time reigning Far East cross-country champion Amanda Henderson of Seoul American and Allie Reichenberg of Kubasaki, who has swept all races in the four Okinawa Activities Council district quadrangulars held thus far.
***
 Noticeable by his absence from last week’s quadrangular was Kubasaki freshman Erik Armes, the reigning Far East boys cross-country champion who was a late scratch from Thursday’s and Friday’s event at Mike Petty and Chatan Stadiums. A few dings here and there. The guy lives to train and it would take a lot to knock him off the grid. Expect him in full form at the Petty meet.
***
It’s going to take a lot to catch Val James of Nile C. Kinnick in the sprint events at both the Kanto Invitational and Far East meets next month at Yokota, though I’m sure Seoul American’s Kelsey Scott will have plenty to say about it. As will Jade Cummings of Zion Christian Academy and Janika Caines of Kadena. Still, despite rain and wind, James won Saturday’s short events – on her favorite course, Yokota’s Bonk Field – with ease, not even easing into third gear in the 400.
It will also be interesting to see how Osan American’s Timothy Ampa and fellow hurdlers Fred Gustafsson of Yokota, Derrick Taylor of Kadena and Columbus Wilson of Kubasaki will match up. Okinawa Christian International’s Rahman Cairnes, Seoul American’s Ty White and Yokota’s Preston Brooks could create sprint finals for the ages.
***
Then, there’s Yokota’s boys 400-meter relay team, Gustafsson, Brooks, Donovan Ball and Stanley Speed (an omen of a name if there ever was one), who boldly, brazenly predicted to me last Friday that the Pacific record (43.34, set last May by Kubasaki at Far East) was “going down.” It didn’t happen, but their 44.3 clocking, with Speed running the anchor into a strong wind, showed that Yokota might have what it takes to do just that.

Okinawa softball rivals now also have a true rivalry

For nine years, black and gold ruled the roost, while green and white played second fiddle. Where girls softball, slowpitch or fastpitch, were concerned, the Okinawa Activities Council regular-season and district championship series were Kadena’s province, with Kubasaki destined to dress out as the island’s strangest-looking bridesmaids.

Until last month.

The Dragons opened the season with two straight wins over the Panthers – phenomenal, considering Kadena’s long dominance; the Panthers had never lost two straight to Kubasaki, and had never dropped three straight dating back to last year’s Far East tournament final.

Well, consider those the slaps in the face with the wet squirrel that Panthers softball nation needed. First-year coach Kelli Wilson and her charges showed last Thursday that they still have a ton of fight left in them.

Try 10 runs in the sixth inning, rallying the Panthers to a 13-5 victory. Kubasaki now trails the season series by one game against the Panthers.

But more than that … the two rivals have forged a true diamond rivalry.

“That’s what you want,” Wilson said just prior to Monday’s practice, three days before the teams tee it up again in their last matchup before the Easter break.

So, coach, was Thursday’s victory a “We’re back and badder than ever” moment or a “it’s just one game; we still have a lot to work on” moment?

“We still had a lot of errors,” Wilson said, clearly siding with the latter. “Kubasaki is a great team. It will be a great season.”

One of the side benefits of the rivalry, Wilson said, is the two Okinawa Activities Council rivals will only become stronger with every contest in which they engage.

“To bring back the trophy to the island is an honor,” Wilson said of regaining the Far East tournament trophy from Seoul American, which beat Kadena 14-10 in extra innings for the gold medal on May 26. “I think Kadena and Kubasaki will push each other to bring home the trophy.”

 
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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.)

 

Oct. 17: The Nile C. Kinnick football team can ensure its fans have good seats for the Far East Division I final with a win over Kadena on Saturday.

Oct. 3: Dave Ornauer talks about the weekend's key football matchups, including Matthew C. Perry at American School In Japan.

Sept. 12: Dave Ornauer highlights Nile C. Kinnick's win over Zama, 30-0, during high school football last week, discusses other games throughout the Pacific.