YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – Aaron Stravers and Kubasaki have put the Pacific “on notice,” one observer said, that the most decorated program in Far East tournament history is back in contention for more wrestling honors.
Stravers eked out a 2-1 decision over former Nile C. Kinnick teammate and friend Ian O’Brien at 180 pounds, one of five golds won by the Dragons en route to edging Kadena for the team title 38-34 in Saturday’s Kinnick Invitational “Beast of the Far East” tournament.
“I’m exhausted right now,” Stravers said, adding that his ex-teammate has improved “in completely every aspect of wrestling, from stance to sprawls. I’m happy, definitely happy.”
“I don’t care about the wins or losses,” said O’Brien, whose Red Devils took third with 32 points. “He’s a good wrestler. He’s really improved, a lot stronger than he was. I’ve had good experiences with him.”
Stravers had been wrestling at 215 pounds, but cut 24 pounds to reach 180, while new teammate Daniel Mora, a transfer from Oceanside, Calif., dropped 14 pounds to reach 108 and Tyshon Butler seven to hit 168. “I owe them all a ribeye when the season’s over,” said coach Ron Geist, who has lost 87 pounds himself since suffering a stroke last June.
Kubasaki has a Pacific-record 21 Far East team titles to its credit and is primed to chase more at next month’s Far East, also at Kinnick.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said reigning Far East 215-pound champion Fred Suniga. “As a senior, for the team to finally win ‘Beast’ and to do it that way is a great feeling.”
Suniga pinned Yokota’s Jake Jackson to win, as did two-time Far East champion Steven Walter, who survived a pitched battle with Kadena’s David Hernandez in 5 minutes, 29 seconds at 115. Austin Cyr rallied for a pin in 4:46 over Kadena’s Elijah Takushi.
Mora proved a big surprise, upsetting Far East champion Justin Duenas of Kadena, then scoring a technical fall over St. Mary’s International’s Lucas Shiraki for the 108 gold. “He set the tone,” Stravers said.
Kadena had six finalists, but none took titles. The biggest upset occurred at 141, where Kadena’s Alex Rojas, an Alaska state champion, lost by pin in 3:25 to Kaleb Atchison of Robert D. Edgren.
St. Mary’s Ryan Vasconcellos remained unbeaten this season, downing Kadena’s Zach Fenton at 122 pounds. Reigning Far East Outstanding Wrestler Chad Wilder of Zama American eked out a two-period decision over Kadena’s James Alexander at 158 and Zama’s Jordan Cotts pinned Kadena heavyweight Nolynn Riley in 45 seconds.
Shohei Nagashima of Shonan Military Academy took “Beast” Outstanding Wrestler honors at 168, pinning Kinnick’s Alex Banks in 3:23. Yokota’s Kalik Battle, a bronze medalist from North Dakota, pinned Christian Academy Japan’s Sam Johnson in 3:54 at 135.
Kinnick’s Eddie Sheridan decisioned Zama’s Robert Corneliussen at 101 and CAJ’s Eric Overton scored a two-period decision over Shonan’s Shigeto Iwanami at 129.