2002 in Review: Soccer title capped Osan American's year of championships
Krystel Mazur’s eyes filled with tears right after the final whistle sounded on Osan American’s 2-0 victory over Taegu American on May 22.
And for good reason.
The Lady Cougars had just captured the 2002 Far East High School Girls Class A soccer title.
But in the grander scheme, Mazur had come to a realization. A magical run by the Osan girls program, which claimed Far East championships in three sports in the 2001-02 school year, was over.
“I was so sad that I was leaving, that I would never be part of a high school team again,” said Mazur, who also played on the Far East Class A volleyball championship team and the two-time Class A basketball title winner.
“But we were ecstatic. It was a good way to end the whole year.”
Never before had one program collected three Far East titles in a school year.
Less than 10 days after the Osan girls accomplished that feat, Okinawa’s Kubasaki went a step better, completing a run of four Far East Class AA titles in a four-month span, capped by an unprecedented sweep of both Far East soccer tournaments.
“It’s awesome to know that I’m part of a rich history at Kubasaki. It’s also great to know that I was on two teams that helped accomplish that feat,” said Erin Foote, a striker on the title-winning girls soccer team and guard for the Lady Dragons’ Far East champion basketball squad.
Kubasaki edged Yokota 2-1 in the Class AA boys championship soccer match to give the school its fourth Far East crown of the year.
Among other multiple champions, the Yokota football team maintained its four-year streak, repeating as Japan Football League and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools champion and winning a third straight Rising Sun Bowl.
The Yongsan Dragons extended their Far East-best football winning streak to 12 games and captured their second straight Korea Youth Activities League-Senior Division title. And Kubasaki won the Okinawa High School Athletic Association crown for the sixth time in seven years.
In wrestling, Kubasaki took its fourth Far East dual-meet team title in five years, adding to its record haul of 15 golds. Nile C. Kinnick of Japan claimed its second straight Far East individual freestyle team crown.
Meanwhile, in the military, Pacific Force of Okinawa won three Grand Slam softball titles to extend its remarkable total to 36 in the 55 Pacificwide tournaments since 1989. Osan won two Pacificwide basketball tournaments and finished second in another.
And Yokosuka made it three consecutive U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League championships.
Osan American and Kubasaki distinguished themselves with their title feats.
“At first, I couldn’t imagine us doing it,” said Mazur, now a freshman at East Carolina. “I knew we had some good coaches and players with potential, but I wasn’t sure we could go that far.”
The Kubasaki girls collected two golds in overtime, beating Robert D. Edgren 71-61 in basketball and rallying past Kadena 5-3 for the soccer championship.
“It was overwhelming,” said Foote, a sophomore, whose soccer squad avenged two regular-season losses to the Lady Panthers. “It just showed the heart and determination that we had.”
The basketball finale “was overwhelming as well,” Foote added. “The whole time I was praying. On the free throws, I couldn’t watch.”
High school football
Losing their first two games by forfeit for using an ineligible 19-year-old player didn’t stop the Yokota juggernaut.
Led by Rising Sun Bowl MVP Mike Chamberlain (2,354 yards, 26 touchdowns, seven interceptions), the Panthers outscored their next nine opponents 428-44, wound up 9-2, and beat the Kubasaki Samurai 57-14 in the Rising Sun Bowl.
Senior tailback Andre Johnson and the Samurai (7-3) reached the Rising Sun Bowl by dethroning the defending OHSAA champion Kadena Buccaneers 35-27 in the Nov. 9 league title game.
Yongsan rode the arm of Chris Glasser, the receiving of Chris Miller and a punishing ground attack to a 6-0 mark, with the Korea All-Stars making it nine World Bowl victories in 10 tries after beating Singapore 28-13 on Nov. 30.
High school basketball
Playing their trademark methodical game, MVP Lori Shields and the Lady Cougars downed Japan’s Matthew C. Perry 40-21 in the Class A girls title game.
A day later, Japan’s E.J. King came within two points of a Class A boys championship, falling 69-67 to Morrison Christian Academy of Taiwan.
Clutch baskets by senior Nikki McGraw sent the Kubasaki-Edgren Class AA girls final into double overtime, with the Lady Dragons outscoring the visiting Lady Eagles 10-0 in the second extra session.
St. Mary’s International of Tokyo, led by senior guard Nick Varner and junior MVP center Lars Kelley, made it two straight Far East Class AA boys golds, downing Kubasaki 40-35.
High school wrestling
Although heavyweight Matt Moore won the only individual title, Kinnick notched enough silvers and bronzes to secure the individual freestyle team title in a tight race, with the top four schools separated by just eight points.
A pinfall victory by unsung Jeremy Scott at 158 pounds helped Kubasaki give longtime coach Jeff Pellaton a triumphant sendoff with a 26-24 victory over Kinnick for the dual-meet team title, capping the three-day Far East meet.
Kadena’s Mundre Fleming (148 pounds) and Bernam Tapang (135) of Kubasaki became the first pair to split the outstanding wrestler award.
The Far East’s longest winning streak ended at 81 victories and 20 years when Kadena edged Kubasaki in an OHSAA regular-season dual meet last January.
High school volleyball
Paced by the senior duo of spiker Jhunnie Rios and setter Charlene Pama, Southern of Guam won its first Class AA title, sweeping Seisen International of Tokyo in three sets.
Meanwhile, all-tournament players Nicola Grobler and Teri Tan led Morrison to its first Class A crown, overcoming E.J. King in a two-match, nine-set event that lasted nearly four hours.
High school cross country
Kadena enjoyed a dream season, becoming the second DODEA-Pacific school to capture the overall Far East team title.
Junior Kim Lyle rallied over the last 800 meters to win the 3.1-mile girls individual race. Kadena later finished second in the team relay to clinch the team title which Kadena also won in 1984.
Seoul American’s William Carter took the 3.1-mile boys individual race as DODEA runners swept both events for just the second time.
High school soccer
MVP Dan Spalink led Christian Academy In Japan to its first Class A soccer crown in a 7-1 rout of Taegu American.
Jared Huber earned MVP honors by converting a penalty kick in the closing seconds to lift Kubasaki over Yokota.
Tailback Chris Bolden piled up 235 yards on 31 carries as the Seahawks ran their USFJ-AFL title string to three by downing Misawa 16-6 in the championship game.
The Marauders featured league MVP Josh Morris, who had a season-high eight interceptions, five of which either set up touchdowns or went directly for scores, and a fumble recovery.
Running their 13-year total of Grand Slam tournament titles to 36, Pacific Force swept the final three events of the year, winning the Firecracker Shootout in July, the Typhoon Classic in September and Kadena Klassic in November.
The other Grand Slam crown, the Pacificwide Invitational, went to Osan, which rallied past host Camp Casey in an all-Korea final over Memorial Day weekend.
TPS of Okinawa dominated the women’s field in 2002, winning the Typhoon title and finishing second in the Firecracker and Pacificwide.
On the command tournament front, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, led by MVP Joe Sutter and dodging showers from tropical storms, rallied past Iwakuni Air Station 11-7 in the July 12 Marine Forces Pacific Regional Tournament final.
Interservice basketball, soccer
A year after it was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, CMFPAC basketball was revived and Okinawa’s 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force won the title behind MVP Norman Capers.
That same week, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, led by MVP Ian Brooks, claimed its first CMFPAC soccer crown since 1999.
On the invitational basketball circuit, Down Town of Okinawa got the early jump by winning the Martin Luther King tournament in January on its home court, topping Osan 104-90 in the final behind MVP Phillip Moss. MVP Tammy Birdsong led Yongsan to its fifth straight women’s MLK title.
The Defenders rebounded during the March Madness Invitational on Guam, getting a huge boost from Demario Daniels in an 85-76 victory over host Andersen in the March 31 championship game. Two days earlier, Air Force Hawaii beat Andersen 65-43 for the women’s title.
In the year’s final Pacificwide tournament, the Osan men, powered by MVP Darrell Harmon, downed Yongsan 82-78 in the Pacificwide Invitational. The Okinawa Queens grabbed the women’s crown with a 55-46 victory over Osan.