This article has been corrected.
A week after cruising past St. Mary’s International by 22 points in its own annual invitational tournament, Nile C. Kinnick’s wrestling team had the first chink put in its unbeaten armor.
The Titans won the first seven bouts and cruised past the Red Devils 35-25 in the first of nine dual meets held in a six-way Kanto Plain regular-season meet at American School In Japan.
“They were the better team today,” Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said.
It was the first defeat in any format for the Red Devils, who won the season-opening dual-meet tournament at Robert D. Edgren and a four-way dual at Zama American last month before winning the Kinnick Individual Tournament last week 84-62 over St. Mary’s.
Asked if he felt a good team needed something like that, Wilson said: “I think so. Whether you want it or not, there it is. We have to respond, we have to get better.”
One team that did remain unbeaten was Seoul American, which won its three duals against Osan, Humphreys and Daegu, each of which don’t field full lineups. The Falcons are 13-0 on the season, but coach Ben Pak cautions not to read too much into that ledger.
“We’re young and we don’t have that experience,” Pak said, adding that his Falcons bring back just two wrestlers who traveled to the Far East tournament, where Seoul American finished fifth in the Division I individual freestyle tournament. Eight either graduated or transferred.
“We’ll do OK, but there is a lack of competition” from other schools, Pak said. Humphreys only has five wrestlers and Daegu seven; some Falcons will get few bouts at all before Far East, he said.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Pak said, adding that if the Falcons can place in the top five again, “that would be a successful Far East.”
On the hardwood, American School In Japan’s girls avenged last season’s Far East D-I Tournament final defeat to Kinnick, downing the Red Devils 52-40, also at Mustang Valley. “ASIJ has four really big girls,” Kinnick assistant Mike Adair said.
That group of bigs includes junior Mia Weinland and senior Liz Thornton, accomplished volleyball stars who helped the Mustangs reach the D-I basketball final last year, where they lost 45-32 to Kinnick.
But even in defeat Saturday, the Red Devils achieved one of the team’s stated goals, Adair said: Having returning point guard Alyshia Allison account for less than half the team’s points and score at least 40. “Then, we have a chance to win,” Adair said.
Elsewhere, Josh Turner scored 12 points and Christian Academy Japan’s boys rebounded from a loss to St. Mary’s International for a 60-49 home win over Kinnick.
On Okinawa, Kubasaki’s girls beat Storm, a women’s team, 35-25 in the Dragons’ final pool-play game of the 20th Martin Luther King Invitational. They begin the playoffs Sunday morning.
“They’re scrappy; they don’t give up,” said Monte Hay, a 41-year-old master sergeant who coaches Storm as well as Rebound, a men’s team that beat Kubasaki’s boys 59-29.
An earlier version of this article contained erroneous information about the result of wrestling matches between Humphrey's Austin Rudd and Osan's Daniel Nazano and Daegu's Morgan Baek and Brenden Becker of Osan.