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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – They set a league record, but the members of Nile C. Kinnick’s girls 1,600-meter relay team seemed far from satisfied.

“I really wanted that Pacific record,” junior anchor Cary Fontanez said after the Red Devils shattered the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools record in 4 minutes, 7.37 seconds in Saturday’s Kanto Invitational meet at Yokota’s Bonk Field.

That effort beat the old mark of 4:09.87 set by American School In Japan in the same meet four years ago - the anchor of that Mustangs relay group, Gwen Thornton, was in attendance Saturday and witnessed her mark being broken.

Now, the Red Devils relay team has its sights set on beating the Pacific record of 4:06.49 set at the Far East meet a year ago by Kadena. “We’ll get it at Far East,” Kinnick’s Val James said.

The Red Devils swept both team titles, beating out ASIJ in both boys and girls. They also won 12 events, with James leading the charge by capturing four alone.

“A lot of hard practices, a lot of hard work,” said James, who won the high jump, 100 and 400 as well as the 1,600 relay. “I’m proud of our team.”

Looking ahead to the Far East meet, May 20-21 also at Yokota, James said: “I’ve been ready.”

“I’m confident she’ll win every event she’s entered,” teammate Shakita Samuels said.

In addition to the relay, Fontanez won both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs.

“I can’t wait” for Far East, she said, noting that the Far East distance fields are as strong as they’ve ever been, with the likes of Jessica Ircink and Allie Reichenberg of Kubasaki and Ana Hernandez and Rachel Burchill of Kadena. “Everyone’s so close together. It’s going to be tough, so much different than last year.”

Other multiple winners included Yokota sprinter Stanley Speed, who won both the 100 and 200 and said he was ready to take on the likes of Seoul American’s Ronald Dogan and Kubasaki’s Rahman Farnell and Jarrett Mitchell. “I’m coming after them,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to see them yet.”

Freshman distance star Daniel Galvin of Yokota swept the 800 and 1,600, taking the later in 4:29.70, just under four seconds shy of the Pacific record and running the last lap as if it were the 400.

“I felt good with 300 meters left, so I just kicked it,” Galvin said, adding he’s ready to face Seoul American’s Ryan Parker and Okinawa’s Erik Armes, Ryan Bugler, Carlos Gutierrez and Andrew Kilkenny.

Two ASIJ athletes also won multiple events, Liz Thornton in the girls long jump and 200, and David Hernandez in the boys long jump, high jump and discus, the latter in an upset over Yokota’s Jesse Hogan.

It was the smallest Kanto Invitational in terms of entrants in the meet’s history dating to 2007. Just six girls and five boys teams participated, all but one from the Kanto Plain. Kubasaki distance runner Sam Fugate was the lone non-Kanto entrant.

Observers said the fact that the Far East meet qualifying date, April 29, had come and gone, regular participants St. Mary’s and Seisen International Schools being away at a school carnival and Zama American’s prom date falling on Saturday contributed to the dearth of participants.

Organizers said they were contemplating shifting next year’s Kanto Invitational to before the qualifying deadline to increase participation, interest and incentive.

Seoul softball, Osan baseball take all; CAJ boys clinch soccer title Kenny Mack Stewart pitched the win and helped himself with an RBI triple and Ryan King had the game-winning two-run single in the sixth as Osan American won its first DODDS Korea baseball regular-season title in seven years, edging Seoul American 6-5 in a Saturday twin bill. The Falcons prevailed 11-8 in the second game at Yongsan Garrison’s Lombardo Field FourPlex.

“It’s a pretty big year for us,” Mack Stewart said after Osan completed a 9-2 regular season, with one tie against Daegu, 1½ games ahead of the 8-4 Falcons. “I hope it means better things for us at Far East.” The Division II tournament is scheduled for May 23-25 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.

The Falcons (10-2) captured the softball version of the DODDS Korea title after sweeping the winless Cougars 15-2 and 10-4 in their doubleheader.

Julia Ring got the win in both ends of the twin bill, giving up just 10 hits, two walks while striking out 14 in 12 innings. She helped herself with an RBI double while Kayla Fointno doubled, tripled, homered and drove in five runs in the opener. Alex Harrod and Naomi Sinclaire each had RBIs in the nightcap.

The two teams next see action in the Far East D-I and D-II Tournaments May 20-22, also at Atsugi.

Saturday also saw reigning Far East D-I Boys Soccer Tournament champion Christian Academy Japan clinch the Kanto title, but not with a victory.

Aaron Russ got his 13th goal of the season, assisted by goalkeeper Brady Yoder, and the Red Devils rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to tie the Knights 1-1 in a rematch of last year’s Far East Tournament final, won by CAJ 4-0. Reigning D-I MVP Shuhei Tanaka got the Knights’ lone goal in the first half.

Their next action is the Far East D-I tournament May 20-23 at Kadena.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

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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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