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Praise for Kubasaki’s Mitchell at Myrtle Beach football camp

Kubasaki Dragons star running back Jarrett Mitchell didn’t waste time impressing the scouts at last week’s National Underclassmen football camp at Myrtle Beach, S.C. Here’s what the scouting report said about him:

http://www.ncaasports.org/college-recruiting-videos-highlights/jarrett-mitchell

Osan Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tourney Day 4

Once you’re boots-on-the-ground at one of these events, you never know who you’re going to run into. Especially the former Pacific high school sports stars who prove that you can come home again to the region and still sparkle.

Take Zori Drew, for instance. She was Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school Athlete of the Year for 2006-07 out of Kadena, her jumping-off point to a basketball scholarship at Brigham Young-Hawaii.

Osan Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tourney Day 3

Yongsan Lady Rebels guard Ebony Jackson, right, drives to the basket on Camp Humphreys Lady Bulldogs' Anton Brown during Wednesday's pool-play game in the 27th anniversary Osan Defenders' Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tournament at main fitness center, Osan Air Base, South Korea. The Rebels edged the Bulldogs 73-69.

So, what is Baylor University women’s basketball team’s all-time assists leader doing playing for the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan Lady Rebels of South Korea?

Perhaps for the most elementary and patriotic reason of all: “Fighting for my country,” she said Wednesday after Angela Tisdale and just five other teammates held off the Camp Humphreys Lady Bulldogs 73-69 on Wednesday, Day 3 of the Osan Defenders’ Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tournament.

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

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer remembers why he abhors Korean winters:

-- Alex Banks. Nile C. Kinnick wrestling. Takes down reigning Far East Tournament Outstanding Wrestler Chad Wilder of Zama American, and reigning 168-pound Far East champion Jeff Koo twice in less than a week. Beast. That’s the only word that sums it up.

DODDS Korea: Let your wrestling teams go to ‘Beast’ or ‘Rumble’

An open letter to the DODDS Korea district superintendent Dr. Irby Miller and the principals of each of the DODDS Korea high schools on behalf of their wrestling programs:

Dear Dr. Miller, Ms. Reiss and Messrs. Nugent and Kwiatek:

Freestyle or folkstyle wrestling: Which should DODDS Pacific use?

One of the topics at last month’s DODDS Pacific athletics directors’ video conference was whether collegiate folkstyle wrestling should be adopted in the Pacific theater. This would bring Far East high school wrestling in line with DODDS Europe and high schools in the States, each of which use folkstyle.

Since the inception of DODDS Pacific-sponsored Far East tournaments in 1976, the region has used international freestyle. That might seem odd, until you consider that most referees in theater are either indigenous, local folks in Japan and Korea who have wrestled at international and Olympic levels and are familiar only with freestyle or Greco-Roman, or GIs who’ve wrestled at the All-Armed Forces and International Military Sports Council level; freestyle and Greco are used there as well.

Mid-week musings, questions for the weekend

Racing headlong toward the Christmas break, we still find Daegu High leading the basketball victory pack in Korea, while American School In Japan keeps ruling the Japan roost and Kubasaki's boys and Kadena's girls rocking the unbeaten roll on Okinawa. Couple things stood out with me as the week progressed.

Don't let Nikita Endo get open. The freshman rising star is becoming a force for Seisen International, which trailed all the way until Endo hit a three-point goal, was fouled, then hit the game-winning foul shot in Tuesday's 36-35 win at Yokota. That came a day after Yokota's 42-17 home triumph over Christian Academy Japan.

They may be winless thus far, but that same Kubasaki girls team which only managed 14 points against Kadena ... wow, 75 points against Kitanakagusuku on Monday? And it wasn't just Sydney Johnson filling the nets; four Dragons scored in double figures.

The interesting part of Matthew C. Perry's girls' 33-27 win over Kyoto International University Academy on Wednesday? Junior Courtney Beall's 20 points were a season low.

Now, will the weather hold off long enough for Osan American's basketball teams to get in their games Friday at Seoul American? Or Seoul American, Daegu High and Osan American's wrestling teams finally be able to play season openers? Rain and snow mixed are forecast for Friday with showers on Saturday.

Yokota at Matthew C. Perry. Nile C. Kinnick at E.J. King. In another year, those basketball weekend matchups might spell a sweep dream for the Red Devils and Panthers. Not this time around, me thinks; these should be interesting games. And Zama American's and Robert D. Edgren's girls are probably evenly matched enough to provide some excitement at snowy Misawa this weekend.

Happy Hanukkah to all!

Changes to Far East tournaments: My take, supplemental

Folks have had much to say about the truncating of Far East tournaments and not much of it kindly (including me). To be fair to the folks on the other side of my loud- and long-stated viewpoint, a few points driven home to me in the past few days:

-- What may seem token in terms of budget savings does, in fact, add up. It may not reach targeted goals that DODDS Pacific may have set or have been asked to cut (I'm told the athletics budget is $280,000 in the red), but a thousand here, a couple more thousand there, several hundred elsewhere ... and creatively finding ways to trim that hadn't been discussed at the ADs meeting ... can eventually get within the ballpark. You cut one player per DODDS team in a 16-team Division I tournament? That saves anywhere between $5,000 and $8,000 depending on distance and location. It costs hundreds of dollars just to turn the key on a bus used to shuttle players to and from dorms; that can amount to substantial savings come spring with its seven Far East events, if you cut days out of them. Point being, DODDS Pacific is fully engaged in doing what it can to stanch the red ink. Even token savings speak volumes.

Far East winter sports tournament dates set

The dates, they have been set. Here's when and where teams and student-athletes will be playing their DODDS Pacific Far East High School winter sports tournaments:

-- Wrestling, Feb. 19-21, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
-- Boys Division I basketball, Feb. 18-21, Kubasaki High School, Okinawa.
-- Girls Division I basketball, Feb. 18-21, Yokota High School, Japan.
-- Boys Division II basketball: Feb. 18-20, Camp Zama, Japan.
-- Girls Division II basketball: Feb. 18-20, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

DODDS Pacific officials announced last Friday that future Far East tournaments will be shortened, starting immediately with wrestling, cut by a day, and basketball, slashed by two days, in an effort to save money, bring DODDS Pacific events more in line with DODDS Europe and cut down on school days missed by student-athletes.

Revised spring tournament dates will be announced soon.

Morta, Horvath garner Guam All-Island baseball honors

A pair of Guam High Panthers baseball players found themselves in the limelight on Monday.

Reliever Daniel Morta, a junior, was named to the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam baseball league's all-island first team. Selected to the second team was senior right-fielder Chance Horvath.

They helped the Panthers to a 6-7-1 regular-season record and fifth-place finish. They face the Simon Sanchez Sharks in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Chalan Pago.

Changes to Far East high school sports tournaments: My take

DODDS Pacific officials have spoken. The masses have pushed back. And the debate will likely continue for awhile in the wake of last week’s announcement that Far East tournaments in the future will undergo a major transformation.

Length to be cut, pool play to be eliminated and the program to be brought more in line with DODDS Europe in the name of saving money and cutting time missed by students out of the classroom.

Things learned, observed in Pacific high school winter season Week 4.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gazes at the forecast for Korea, where he’s headed to next, and hopes for the cold snap to snap by Friday:

-- They’ve played some close games, they’ve played some not-so-close games. But with the first couple of pages turned on the season, there’s Daegu American’s boys and girls teams, leading the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference’s Five-Cities Division in wins. They’re a combined 9-1. Way too early to declare them champions, but they’re clearly championship timber.

For complete results of Friday's basketball games, click here.

For complete results of Saturday's basketball games, click here.

Dec. 6 Home Team: Kubasaki wrestling coach fights back

It would have been unthinkable last June that Ron Geist would be seated last Wednesday on a coach's seat in Kubasaki Dragons' wrestling team's corner during the Okinawa Activities Council season-opening dual meet against Kadena. It was a rough night at the office for the Dragons, whom the Panthers pummeled 45-15. But Geist's story is a remarkable one, given all the progress he's made rehabilitating from a stroke he suffered last June. Read his story here.

Things learned, observed in Pacific Army-Navy flag rivalry week 23.0

What a great Saturday for fans of Army-Navy flag-football rivalry games.

People who know me, know that I generally watch flag football with one hand and hold my nose with the other; flag and football should never belong in the same sentence.

Kubasaki's Mitchell won't slow down at Christmas

In case folks on Okinawa were wondering why Jarrett Mitchell isn't on the basketball court this season, well, trust me, he's not slowed down an instant. And won't slow down even through the Christmas holiday.

The Kubasaki Dragons' junior running back and Pacific rushing leader with 1,392 yards on 139 carries is preparing for a couple of national football showcases in the States over the Christmas break.

It all begins Dec. 17 at Myrtle Beach, S.C., where Mitchell will participate in the National Underclassmen football camp and senior All-American Bowl, scheduled for Dec. 22.

A brief break to celebrate the holiest of holy days on the Christian calendar and Mitchell heads to the west coast, or rather Carson, Calif., and the Home Depot Center where he takes part in the Junior Rank Proving Ground National Combine on Jan. 3.

Such lofty camps are open by invitation only, a cachet Mitchell managed to obtain by proving his abilities in camps last summer in locales like Florida and elsewhere.

Does he have what it takes to play at a higher level? Most certainly at Division I-AA and below, but Mitchell, I'm sure, will not settle for that. We'll see just how far his talent can take him, and the Dragons next fall and beyond.

And yes, Mitchell is expected to suit up for Dragons track and field this spring as well as football for his senior and final season in the fall.

Pacific high school sports questions for the weekend

-- How well will Yokota and American School In Japan boys basketball teams rebound on Friday after taking one on the chin Tuesday?
-- In this weekend’s Western Japan Athletic Association girls basketball at Kobe, will we find out that E.J. King’s shocker over Yokota and Matthew C. Perry’s rally over Marist Brothers International made them for real or were they blips on the radar?
-- It’s a non-SAT weekend. Who will step up in Saturday’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools wrestling invitational at Christian Academy Japan?
-- Who in that event is the best 135-pounder?
-- How will Kevin Jackson and Ben Pak do in their head-coaching debuts for Daegu High and Seoul American this weekend in the DODDS Korea tri-dual wrestling meet at Camp George?
-- Who has the best chance of continuing its early-season KAIAC 5CD basketball run: Seoul American’s girls or Daegu High’s boys? And how will Osan American do in its season openers?
-- Which of the smaller, quicker Kadena and Kubasaki boys basketball teams will prevail in Thursday’s openers? And will Kadena’s girls continue their domination of the Dragons?

Mid-week musings: Big statement by Kadena in mat opener

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer comes away from season-opening Okinawa Activities Council wrestling dual meet amazed. But not surprised.

That was about as much a visit to the woodshed as any home team could ever take, especially as one as decorated as Kubasaki, with its 21 Far East Tournament team titles.

Things learned, observed in Pacific winter sports Weeks 1.0, 2.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer remembers again how dawg goned difficult photographing basketball can be:

-- Three dual meets into the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools wrestling season, looks like the same ol’, same ol’ for two-time defending Far East Division I Tournament champion St. Mary’s International. No more Chidi Agbo? No problem for a team returning Jeff Koo and Kevin Miller at the upper weights, and breaking in a freshman, Ryan Vasconcellos, at the lower weights. The latter is off to an unbeaten start. Guess it’s in the genes; his sister, Jade, is a two-time All-Far East D-I Volleyball Tournament selection.

For complete results of Friday's games and photographs, click here.

For complete results of Saturday's games and photographs, click
here.

Things learned, observed on Korea’s football fields, basketball courts

Already comfortably ahead in the Peninsula Trophy series and overall in the Pacific, Army got the early jump on Navy in what I’m hereby dubbing flag-football “rivalry week.”

And though it wasn’t the 30-0 blowout it was last December at Yongsan Garrison, Aquil Garner scored three touchdowns, enough for the soldiers to defeat a combined Navy-Marine Corps team 20-12 on Saturday at Seoul American High School’s Sims Field.

Pacific high school girls basketball preview

Call it a case of unfinished business. Kadena girls basketball suffered a bad case of also-ran fever in 2011-12, taking second in every tournament the team entered last season. Virtually the entire team returns and coach Willie Ware says they're hungry to climb the ladder that one last step. Click here to read their story and here to view team capsules.

Pacific high school boys basketball preview

They've won the last two Far East Division I Tournament titles and three in coach Jon Fick's six seasons at the Kubasaki Dragons helm. But to make it a three-peat, he must make do without the height and experience level his team has enjoyed the last few years. And who, if anybody, can step up and be the one to halt Morrison Academy's four-year run on Division II Tournament titles? Click here to read the lowdown and here to view team capsules.

Pacific high school wrestling preview

St. Mary's International School's Titans wrestling program has, indeed, been titanic the last two seasons, winning four Far East Division I Tournament team titles during that span with five individual gold medals, eight silver and two bronze. How can such a juggernaut be stopped. Click here to see what coaches say about the Titans, and here to view team capsules.

 
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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.)

 

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.

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.