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TOKYO — Longtime American School In Japan wrestling coach John Hohenthaner got a fitting retirement sendoff on Saturday: the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools team title.

Hohenthaner, 65, a DODDS educator and coach in the 1970s, and his Mustangs came away with two gold medals, three silvers and four bronzes in the tournament to capture the Kanto crown with 80 points, six ahead of second-place Yokota and eight better than third-place Nile C. Kinnick.

“To take second behind Hohenthaner is an honor,” Yokota coach Brian Kitts said. “He’s forgotten more about wrestling than I’ll ever know. To follow in his shadow is a great thing. A nice way for him to end his career.”

The most decorated coach in the Kanto league’s 34-year history, Hohenthaner, a South Dakotan, coached eight teams to at least a share of the DODDS-Pacific Far East Tournament team title. Five of those came since joining the ASIJ staff in 1988, three with St. Mary’s International from 1980 to ’88.

Before that, Hohenthaner helped found the wrestling program at Robert D. Edgren in 1978-79 and coached the 1979-80 season at Matthew C. Perry. He came to Edgren after three years of coaching at Baumholder and Wiesbaden, West Germany.

But more than the championships, Kitts said the care Hohenthaner lavished on his athletes made him stand out.

“Hands down, he’s the most successful coach in the history of this league,” said Kitts, who, in his sixth season, now becomes the senior active head coach. “Unarguable. And it’s clear. When you watch him, you can see he cares about his kids. I have learned a lot from him. He’s been a great mentor for all the young coaches in the league.”

Yokota finished second partly on the strength of Nick Guzman, who won the 122-pound gold medal and tournament Outstanding Wrestler honors. Heavyweight Bryce Keenom scored an upset decision over defending Far East champion Phil Ergus of Kinnick for the title.

“I’d trade that for a Far East tournament title,” Guzman said. This year’s Far East tournament starts Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Kinnick won three golds: Byron Stipe (101), Lloyd Stipe (108) and Chris Sanders (180). Zama American finished fifth, aided by gold-medal performances by Adam Godfrey (148) and Daniel Polaski (158). Godfrey finished the regular season undefeated.

Suriben helps E.J. King girls win first DODDS-Japan titleOn Saturday at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, it didn’t look good in the early going for the E.J. King girls basketball team as the Cobras, who needed a victory to claim their first DODDS-Japan Basketball League crown, fell behind Matthew C. Perry by eight points at halftime.

Then the defense shut down outside shooting specialists Kiara Lacey and Cristina Sindac, who combined for 16 first-half points, and Kristia Suriben scored 23 as the Cobras rallied past the Samurai 50-46.

It completed a turnaround for the Cobras, who went 1-21 three seasons ago but will enter next week’s Far East tournament with a 23-1 record and 12-1 DODDS-JBL mark.

“They made up their minds. They weren’t going to lose this game,” coach Bridget Vertin said. “I’m so proud of them. They worked very hard. They make me look good.”

MVPs Taylor, Churchwell lead Falcons to KAIAC sweepStrong performances by tournament MVPs Devanee Taylor and Chris Churchwell helped propel the Seoul American Falcons to a sweep of the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I basketball tournaments at Seoul on Saturday.

Taylor scored 11 points and the Falcons girls improved to 18-0, capping their tournament run by beating host Seoul Foreign 49-37.

Churchwell, playing with 20 stitches in his forehead, the result of an elbow in a game earlier Saturday, responded with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals in a 61-53 victory over Seoul Foreign.

“Devanee came into her own today,” Falcons girls coach Charlotte Hicks said.

“Today, the girls had to work hard. I was pleased with the way they worked together.”

The Falcons lost players to injuries, illness and emergency leaves this season. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve done with all the challenges we’ve had, and we’re coming together” Hicks said.

Churchwell was injured during the Falcons’ 71-59 loser’s bracket victory over Yongsan International-Seoul. He was treated, stitched and released from Severance Hospital, near the Seoul Foreign campus, then came alive in the championship.

“Talk about a gutsy performance,” coach Steve Boyd said. “How many players would not even come back to the gym, let alone come back and play?”

With the host Crusaders up by a point following two three-pointers, the Falcons went into a man-to-man defense and hit key foul shots down the stretch.

Seoul American has played a school-record 45 games this season, and “the tough conditioning paid off,” Boyd said after the Falcons evened their season mark against Seoul Foreign to 3-3. “To have that much left in the tank — at Seoul Foreign — that is huge.”


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