Korean-based wrestlers, Kubasaki shine on the mats

Yokota's Caleb Heino grimaces as Christian Academy Japan's Jordan Van Druff takes command in the 108-pound final.


By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 22, 2019

It was a red-letter day for Korea-based wrestlers in the 42nd Far East tournament in a season where teams in Korea had trouble fielding full lineups.

Two Osan wrestlers won their weight classes Friday, the first time that’s happened in 10 years. One of them, Kojiro VanHoose, a 129-pound senior, broke a school record with his third straight Far East title.

And Humphreys recorded a school first, as Will Allen, a 135-pounder, became the first Blackhawks wrestler to win a Far East title.

VanHoose transferred from Centennial High School in Idaho to Osan three years ago having won just one major in-season invitational there, the Treasure Valley Tournament, as a freshman.

On Friday, he captured his own form of treasure, winning the 129-pound final by pin over Sam Squires of Robert D. Edgren in 1 minute, 30 seconds.

“I’m really happy about that,” VanHoose said after his championship bout at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. He said he’d been unaware that he broke the school record, held by several Cougars wrestlers in the 1990s and 2000s.

“That makes it really special for me,” VanHoose said. “I’m glad I worked as hard as I did.”

VanHoose’s championship was one of several milestone feats by teams and individuals on Day 2 of the three-day Far East tournament. Individual freestyle finals were held Friday; the dual-meet tournament began later Friday and concludes with the finals Saturday.

Osan sophomore Marcus Inthavixay won at 158 pounds by points over Edgren’s Cody Dettman.

“I didn’t expect to go this far in the tournament,” said Inthavixay, who like VanHoose went unbeaten this season.

Inthavixay wrestled Dettman last season and said he realized he had to adjust to make it past him again. “He’s very strong,” Inthavixay said. “He’s better than he was last year. I had to change my style a little bit, use throws, anything to mix it up.”

Allen similarly capped an undefeated season, using two huge four-point throws en route to a 12-0 technical-fall victory in 5 minutes, 30 seconds over St. Mary’s William Krcelic.

“Both throws were amazing,” said VanHoose, who paused after his title bout to watch Allen win his.

“This is very exciting,” Allen said, crediting his coaches and teammates for his success this season. “I thank all of them.”

Allen said he had his hands full with Krcelic and needed to employ a series of countermoves to keep him at bay. “I used his arms and his momentum against him,” Allen said.

Allen and Inthavixay were among 10 new faces accepting weight-class championship hardware.

Matthew C. Perry heavyweight Marshall China, St. Mary’s 115-pounder Eiji Kasahara and VanHoose were the only reigning champions to repeat, while 2018 champions Chris Mason (215) of Nile C. Kinnick and Caleb Heino (108) of Yokota were dethroned.

It was the first time since 2013 that St. Mary’s and Kinnick didn’t finish atop the team standings – Kubasaki extended its Pacific record with its 26th Division I team title and first since 2013.

Kubasaki won by just two points over St. Mary’s, capturing the crown thanks to Haydn Peterson’s 10-0 technical fall win over Mason in 1:27. It was his match that decided the team title.

“This is really exciting, so amazing,” Peterson said. “This team has worked so hard, we’ve pushed every weight class to the limit and all the hard work has paid off.”

Robert D. Edgren won the Division II team crown, extending its Pacific mark with its 10th D-II title, all won under longtime Eagles coach Justin Edmonds.

“Like always, I’m proud of them,” Edmonds said. “They did a good job.”

Among newcomers to the title podium was Kinnick freshman 101-pounder Alexi Mutoh, who was tutored by former three-time Far East champion Lucas Wirth. Mutoh beat Kubasaki’s Dylan Huddleston for the title.

“I’m surprised to be the champion,” Mutoh said, crediting Wirth for teaching him moves and to be more aggressive on the mat.

Christian Academy Japan’s 108-pounder Jordan Van Druff unseated Heino with an 11-1 technical fall in 4:41. He said he had mixed feelings about beating Heino. “Both of us have worked very hard,” he said. “He (Heino) has one year left; I expect him to win his weight next year.”

First time champion Jaylen Mayers of Kubasaki survived a 122-pound final showdown with American School In Japan’s Ira Kadet, winning with a second-round pin.

Experience helped China reclaim his heavyweight title, the Perry senior said. “I’ve been through it before; I knew what to expect,” said China, who returns next year to chase a third straight title. “That’s the plan,” he said.

Other championship bouts saw ASIJ’s 168-pounder Zenon Sadler win his 33rd straight bout dating back to last season, by technical fall 10-0 in 4:22 over St. Mary’s Lev Titov.

St. Mary’s Austin Koslow beat Yokota’s Austin Fisher by technical fall 10-0 in 1:02 at 180 pounds. ASIJ’s Rin Zoot beat Kubasaki’s Luke Moseley by technical fall 12-0 in 1:26 for the 148-pound title.

St. Mary’s Nishant Chanda won at 141 pounds by technical fall 11-0 in 2:54 over ASIJ’s Egan Sadler. Kasahara’s repeat title came via 10-4 decision against ASIJ’s Take Zoot.


American School In Japan's Rin Zoot sends Kubasaki's Luke Moseley to the mat in the 148-pound final.

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