High schoolers take step into unknown at Kadena all-comers track meet
Stars and Stripes
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Uncharted territory is the destination many Kubasaki and Kadena track and field athletes will take Saturday at a first-of-its-kind all-comers meet featuring adults at Kadena High School.
The event, featuring just running events ranging from 100 to 3,200 meters, is also the first on the high school’s newly minted seven-lane track, which helps make it a “win-win” for all involved, Kadena coach Kevin Taylor said.
“I like the idea,” he said. “It does a couple of things. All the entries are individual, you just put them in and let them run. Then, you’re running against people we don’t typically run against, in some cases our volunteer coaches. I think it’s exciting.”
The fact that it’s the first meet on the new all-weather track will help Taylor and the school test it out, for example, learning where things like the hurdles belong. “It will help us break it in, figure out where everything goes,” he said.
While the Panthers, Dragons and the adults duke it out close to home, soccer teams in Japan hit the road Thursday for the DODDS Japan tournaments – in some cases taking the term “road warrior” to the extreme.
Robert D. Edgren’s Eagles drove some nine hours by bus to the boys tournament at Nile C. Kinnick, and the girls tournament to Yokota. Taking even longer were Matthew C. Perry’s Samurai, who left Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni just past midnight, the bus journeying 11 hours to drop off the boys team at Yokosuka, then continuing another 2½ to Yokota.
“We’re running on gasoline fumes,” said coach Mark Lange, whose Samurai boys were due to play Edgren at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 7½ hours after arriving with little or no sleep on the bus.
“All I can do is laugh about it because I’m so tired,” Lange said. “But it’s all good.”
The DODDS tournaments serve as a good test for all the teams, “a good gauge” to see where they stand, just as was the Western Japan Athletic Association tournament last weekend, Lange said.
It also resumes what’s become a blooming rivalry between Perry and Kinnick for both the boys and girls teams, Lange said. And it’s unusual, in that Kinnick, last year’s Far East Boys Division I Tournament runner-up, is DODDS Japan’s largest school, while Perry, the reigning Far East D-II champion in both boys and girls, is one of DODDS Japan’s smallest with E.J. King.
“It’s at a high level,” Lange said of the play between Kinnick’s and Perry’s boys and girls teams, allthe better to make each stronger.
“We’re playing so we can be competitive at Far East. It’s all about the star,” Lange said of possibly adding a third star to the Samurai FC chest press, symbolic of their Far East tournament titles.
While the DODDS Japan tournament is official, DODDS Korea teams begin what amounts to an unofficial tournament starting Friday, when Seoul American visits Daegu High.
International schools are on Easter break until March 31, so only DODDS teams play each other until March 30, five matches in all, with Osan, Seoul and Daegu taking turns visiting each other.