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Kadena heavyweight James White and Nile C. Kinnick's Marc Domery, who finished 1-2 in last month's Beast of the Far East tournament, are favored to win gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan.

Kadena heavyweight James White and Nile C. Kinnick's Marc Domery, who finished 1-2 in last month's Beast of the Far East tournament, are favored to win gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan. (Jack Higbee/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Kadena heavyweight James White and Nile C. Kinnick's Marc Domery, who finished 1-2 in last month's Beast of the Far East tournament, are favored to win gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan.

Kadena heavyweight James White and Nile C. Kinnick's Marc Domery, who finished 1-2 in last month's Beast of the Far East tournament, are favored to win gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan. (Jack Higbee/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Nile C. Kinnick 180-pounder Dwayne Lyon is considered a favorite to recapture gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan.

Nile C. Kinnick 180-pounder Dwayne Lyon is considered a favorite to recapture gold in this week's Far East tournament at Osan. (Jack Higbee/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Kubasaki's Kyan McCarty is considered a favorite to capture gold at 108 pounds in this week's Far East tournament at Osan.

Kubasaki's Kyan McCarty is considered a favorite to capture gold at 108 pounds in this week's Far East tournament at Osan. (Jack Higbee/Special to Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – A strong regular season doesn’t always mean a Far East championship will follow.

Defending champion St. Mary’s nearly ran the table in Japan this season, and was overtaken in the Kanto Plain finals by Kinnick, which won Far East Division I dual-meet titles in 2014 and ’15.

The Titans and Red Devils are clearly favored to meet in this week’s D-I dual-meet final and have the guns to make it a 1-2 chase in the individual freestyle portion.

But enough strong wrestlers from other schools could steal valuable points from both teams and bring them back to the rest of the field.

“That’s why you compete; you don’t know what will happen until the six minutes are over,” said longtime coach Steve Schrock of Kadena, one team that might benefit from some upsets. “It’ll come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and takes advantage of others’ mistakes.”

For the third straight year, Osan American hosts Far East, to be held Thursday-Saturday at Osan Air Base’s main fitness center. Individual freestyle bouts will go throughout Thursday into Friday’s championship bouts, with the dual-meet portion starting Friday and ending Saturday.

Prior to Far East, Stripes spokes with Schrock, Wilson, coaches Ty Gaume of defending Far East Division II champion Yokota and Ben Pak of Korea regular-season champion Seoul American about which wrestlers and teams are favored and what they have to do to prevail.

Here’s a glance at the contenders in each weight class, based on regular-season results, tournaments such as Beast of the Far East and the Kanto Plain finals and looking back at previous Far East results, among other factors. Please allow for last-second changes:

101—Favorite: Eshan Singhi, St. Mary’s (won Beast and Kanto; second at Far East last year). In the hunt: Jadan Duenas, Kadena (second at Beast); Caleb Heino, Yokota; Ira Kadet, American School In Japan. Darkhorse: Michael A. Nation, Kubasaki.

“Singhi is the one to beat,” Schrock said. “He’s tough to wrestle because he’s so long. Hopefully, Jadan can be more competitive. And I like Heino’s intensity.”

108—Favorite: Kyan McCarty, Kubasaki (won Beast; third at Far East last year). In the hunt: Charlie Labato, Kinnick (won Kanto); JongPyeong Lee, St. Mary’s; Austin Martino, Kadena (second at Beast); Kojiro VanHoose, Osan (eighth in Idaho last year). Darkhorse: Austin Grimes, Yokota.

All the coaches agreed that 108 could be a tough tussle, but that McCarty has the edge. “Kyan doesn’t panic, he has good technique, he’s strong and experienced,” Schrock said.

115—Favorite: Chon Dareing, Kinnick (second at Far East last year, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Tatsuhito Matsumoto, St. Mary’s (second at Far East at 108 last year); Demetrio De La Rosa, Kadena (returning Far East champion at 101, second at Beast); Egan Sadler, ASIJ. Darkhorse: Luis Veliz, Kubasaki.

“That’s a pretty tight group,” Wilson said of a class featuring three Far East finalists from last year. Dareing and Matsumoto are 2-2 against each other this season.

De La Rosa experienced the type of growing pains that go with jumping a couple of weight classes from 101, Schrock said. “That’s a different animal,” he said.

122—Favorite: Lucas Wirth, Kinnick (returning Far East champion at 108, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Rio Lemkuil, St. Mary’s (returning Far East champion at 115, second at Beast and Kanto); Luke Alexander, Yokota; Kaleb Wallace, Kadena. Darkhorse: TeVean Jones, E.J. King.

In another weight class with two Far East champions, most gave a slight edge to Wirth, who’s 3-1 vs. Lemkuil this season. “Wirth is meaner,” Gaume said. “Lemkuil never gives up. He keeps pressure on opponents the entire time.”

129—Favorite: Devoney Stanley, Kinnick (fourth at Far East last year, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Tatsuo Tanaka, St. Mary’s (second to Stanley at Beast and Kanto). Darkhorse: Shaun Freeman, Kadena.

Stanley vs. Tanaka is “just another great battle,” Schrock said.

Tanaka was winning early, but Stanley has begun to show “great athleticism, plus he has good wrestling IQ,” Gaume said.

135—Favorite: Chang Young Lee, St. Mary’s (returning three-time Far East champion, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Mason Smith, Kinnick (second to Lee at Beast and Kanto), Yeol Ryoo, Christian Academy Japan (fourth at Far East last year at 129); Rin Zoot, ASIJ; Koby Karl, Kubasaki. Darkhorse: Michael Hoffman, Yokota.

Schrock calls this class Lee’s to lose, with “everybody else in that weight class fighting for second and third,” Gaume said. “You look at him (Lee) and ask why he’s so successful. He’s just a good wrestler.”

While having lost to Lee each time, “Mason’s scored a few points on him,” Wilson said of Smith.

141—Favorite: Ryo Osawa, St. Mary’s (returning Far East champion at 129, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Hunter VanHoose, Osan; Anthony Macaluso, Kubasaki; Nathan Bolinger, CAJ. Darkhorse: Kameron Leon Guerrero, Kinnick (fourth at Far East last year).

“A deep weight class; very tough,” Schrock said, though Osawa gets a solid edge. “He’s one of the more technical wrestlers; speed and technique,” Gaume said.

148—Favorite: Hunter Lane, Daegu (Far East runner-up last year, won Beast). In the hunt: Jacob Castro, Kinnick (won Kanto); JiHoon Seo, St. Mary’s; Curtis Blunt, Zama (second at Beast); Luke Moseley, Kubasaki. Darkhorse: David Messinger, Seoul American.

“He’s really solid,” Schrock said of Lane, who beat Kadena’s former Far East champion Jason Bland last year.

Lane’s training partner, 158-pounder Jake Dexter, “is no slough,” Gaume said. “Lane’s having to wrestle him in practice every day and he always wrestles with a chip on his shoulder.”

158—Favorite: Callum Marshall, CAJ (voted Outstanding Wrestler at Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Dexter; Darius Swenson, Kinnick (fourth at Far East last year at 148, second at Beast); Austin Koslow, St. Mary’s (second at Kanto). Darkhorse: Emery Oakley, Kadena.

Though Wilson says this is Marshall’s to lose, both Schrock and Gaume feel he’s in for a battle. “That is a brutal weight class,” Gaume said, noting that Marshall had “four tough matches” en route to winning Beast.

168—Favorite: JinHwi Park, CAJ (won Kanto). In the hunt: Mitchell Krcelic, St. Mary’s (fourth at Far East last year, won Beast); Sam Preston, Zama (fourth at Far East last year at 180); Jacob Parker, Kadena. Darkhorse: Austin Adkins, King.

“You can flip a coin” between Park and Krcelic, Wilson said. “Whichever kid wants it more that day, and Preston has the ability to pin some people,” Gaume said.

180—Favorite: Dwayne Lyon, Kinnick (returning Far East champion, won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Lawrence Yamaguchi, CAJ (third at Far East last year); Brandon Rothe, Seoul American (won Far East at 215 last year); Alex Patton, St. Mary’s (second at Beast and Kanto); Darkhorse: Nick Burwell, Kubasaki.

Rothe won as an underweight 215 last year, but will drop a weight into what many say is the toughest weight class of all. And he didn’t have the benefit of a single bout against a DODDS Korea opponent this season.

“It’s a shame he doesn’t have the opportunities to show his skill, but I can’t give him any,” Pak said. “But he’s very competitive. He’ll take the challenge. He has confidence in his ability.”

“He’s still got it; if he’s strong and hard working in practice, then he’s got a shot,” Wilson said.

Of the whole weight class itself, Gaume said: “That’s going to be a war.”

215—Favorite: Shane Koslow, St. Mary’s (won Beast and Kanto). In the hunt: Patrick Sledge, Robert D. Edgren; Tristan Young, Kubasaki (second at Beast); Cameron Joley, Kinnick. Darkhorse: John Murphy, Kadena.

This group was diminished some when Rothe dropped a weight, but while Koslow won the key tournament titles, Sledge is to be watched for, the coaches said.

“Patrick has a huge heart,” Gaume said. “He’s strong and athletic; he’s fun to watch,” Schrock said.

Heavyweight—Favorite: James White, Kadena (won Beast). In the hunt: Marc Domery, Kinnick (won Kanto); Jeremy Liu, Kubasaki. Darkhorse: Xander Debus, Yokota.

“James has worked hard and earned this,” Schrock said of the Beast winner, who pinned Domery during that tournament. “Domery’s a pretty strong athlete,” Gaume said.

Overall, “it sounds like it’ll be a fun Far East,” Schrock said.

While St. Mary’s, Seoul American, Kadena, Kubasaki and Kinnick sport full or almost-full lineup, that’s only the case in D-II with Yokota and CAJ; most others field between only four and eight wrestlers.

“CAJ and Yokota will happen,” Gaume said of a possible fait accompli in the D-II final. If it does, his Panthers should have their hands full. “They have six seniors and they’re all very good wrestlers. It’s going to be a tight battle.”

ornauer.dave@stripes.com Twitter @ornauer_stripes

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
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