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Kinnick looks strong in early season tourney

Osan American's Preston Blakley pins Seoul American's Seth Greensage in 1 minute, 20 seconds in the 168-pound bout during Saturday's DODDS Korea wrestling tri-dual meet at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. The Falcons beat the Cougars 34-19.

A topsy-turvy DODDS Japan wrestling tri-dual at Yokosuka Naval Base served up surprise after surprise on Saturday, none bigger than Nile C. Kinnick’s Alex Banks stunning reigning Far East Tournament Outstanding Wrestler Chad Wilder of Zama American.

Wilder nearly had a pin combination on Banks in a 158-pound bout, but Banks rolled through, tilted Wilder backward and pinned him in 1 minute, 15 seconds.

“It was a clash of the titans,” Red Devils coach Gary Wilson said. “They’re both physical, tough wrestlers. Chad’s tough. He almost got out of it. Anybody else, he would have gotten out and scored back points.”

The Red Devils swept their two dual meets, beating Yokota 40-20 and Zama 53-11. But another surprise came in the form of Zama upsetting Yokota 36-28, believed to be the Trojans’ first dual-meet victory over Yokota since the 1980s when Jack Minor coached Zama into title contention annually.

The Trojans clinched the dual when Jordan Cotts upset Yokota’s heavyweight Jesse Hogan in the final bout, pinning Hogan in 46 seconds.

Another stunner saw Kinnick’s Ian O’Brien topping 180-pound Far East gold-medal contender Mitchell Harrison of Zama. O’Brien scored the final point at the buzzer to eke out a 2-1 decision; Zama coaches protested that the point came after time expired.

“That was great to watch,” Wilson said, adding that it was “so loud, it was hard to hear the buzzer. One of those see-saw battles.”

The 215-pound weight class resembled a merry-go-round, as Zama’s Ian Pope beat Kinnick’s Daniel Costello, Jake Jackson of Yokota beat Pope and Costello beat Jackson.

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“It was a crazy day,” Wilson said. “It was some intense stuff.”

Not nearly as intense was DODDS Korea’s season-opening tri-dual at Seoul American, coming nearly a month after the league’s first practice.

The Falcons topped Osan American 34-19 and Daegu High 53-5; neither of the vanquished squads fielded full lineups. Osan got pins from Alan Albright, Jacob Collins and Minsu Kim to best the Warriors 43-6.

Seoul American’s girls basketball team had it’s first major test of the season against Soongeuin High, a Korean team. The Falcons trailed 40-33 in the third quarter before Jasmine Thomas and Mecca Perkins combined for 18 points down the stretch in a 56-47 home triumph.

“This is what we need every game,” said coach Jesse J. Smith, whose Falcons have beaten their five Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Five-Cities Division foes handily.

Playing the role of comeback kids in Japan, Yokota’s boys trailed on Friday by 23 points at half and again on Saturday by 14 before rallying to win by scores of 56-50 and 43-31.

“I guess we’re a team that doesn’t start playing until the fourth quarter,” Panthers coach Paul Ettl said, only half-jokingly.

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