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DODDS-Pacific wrestling teams in Japan and Korea savored a decidedly international flavor to their respective competitions on Saturday:

E.J. King’s annual invitational for the five DODDS wrestling schools in Japan also welcomed a team from Shimabari Technical High School from nearby Sasebo.

After wrestling dual meets against Osan American at Yongsan Garrison, Seoul and Daegu American traveled to Chung Yang Yi High School in Seoul, where they went up against wrestlers from six Korean teams.

DODDS grapplers took their lumps, in some cases, but learned plenty, coaches said, adding that they hope for return engagements with their more experienced opponents.

“This was definitely a learning experience,” Seoul American coach Julian Harden said of going up against a group of middle school, high school and some adult wrestlers in the heavier weight groups.

Seoul and Daegu grapplers wrestled three rounds of 25 bouts each, with only six resulting in American victories. Seoul’s Greg Morris and Demetrius Johnson and Daegu’s Kevin Moeller, Phillip Cox and Andrew Davenport scored pins, while Daegu’s Clinton Kim won a decision.

“We were going up against precision people,” Daegu coach Bill Riggs said.

“They’re technicians. They know what they’re doing. That helps us to identify mistakes and correct them.”

The speed and quickness with which the Koreans execute their moves impressed Harden. “You watch these guys over and over and over again. Even when you know it’s coming, they make a move and you’re on your back,” he said.

At Sasebo Naval Base, Yokota enjoyed more success on paper, finishing first with 36 points, 12 points better than Shimabari Tech. Still, Yokota coach Brian Kitts seemed impressed with his Japanese opponents.

“They’re disciplined, skilled, good wrestlers,” Kitts said, noting that Japanese athletes tend to do one sport year-round, while DODDS athletes engage in as many as three in a school year. “This gives us a good chance for our kids to get some good work in.”

Kitts’ Panthers have thus far won two in-season tournaments, shirt-tailing their victory Dec. 1 at Robert D. Edgren. While acknowledging his team is “getting better,” a lot of work remains between now and the Far East tournament Feb. 13-16 on Okinawa.

“Anything can happen,” Kitts said of things like injuries and unforeseen transfers in and out bound. “It’s (Far East) a long way off. We have a lot of work to do. But we are working hard.”


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