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Senior Mark Striegl never had lost a bout since he entered the St. Mary’s International wrestling program seven years ago, in 6th grade — until he faced Kenji Doughty of Nile C. Kinnick on Saturday.

“It was unreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Doughty, a senior, after beating Striegl in the 148-pound final of a Christian Academy In Japan Invitational Tournament featuring two gold-medal bouts pitting former Far East Tournament champions:

Doughty, last year’s Far East 141-pound champion, decisioned former two-time Far East champion Striegl.Defending Far East 115-pound champion Jason Rodriguez of Yokota handed 2004 Far East champion Jordan Foxwell of Christian Academy In Japan his first loss in three years, pinning Foxwell in the 122-pound final.And in the 158-pound title bout, St. Mary’s Jon Michael Kwak edged defending 158-pound Far East champion Yamato Cibulka of Nile C. Kinnick.

“Those three pairings were the best of the day,” said coach Brian Kitts of sixth-place Yokota. “Pitting Far East champions against each other. That was awesome.”

“It was intense,” added Kinnick assistant coach Go Yamada, in the corner for the Doughty-Striegl and Cibulka-Kwak bouts, which were contested simultaneously.

Striegl edged Doughty 3-0 for the gold medal in February’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools championship meet at St. Mary’s. That was just a week before Doughty became the third member of his family to win a Far East weight-class title.

But because of that defeat, Doughty said, “I pumped myself up” for Saturday’s bout. “I was ready. My two goals this year were to beat Striegl and to help the team win Far East. I’ve accomplished one of them.”

Meanwhile, Cibulka lost for the third time in five tries against Kwak. “It won’t be easy next time,” Cibulka said of the rivals’ next slated meeting, in a Jan. 11 Kanto Plain dual meet at Yokosuka Naval Base. They’ll square off again in two invitationals and the Kanto championships on Feb. 11 at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s, with two individual gold medalists, won the team points chase on Saturday, finishing ahead of American School In Japan 69-45.

“They did a good job,” Kitts said of St. Mary’s and ASIJ, noting that both teams are mostly youthful squads. “Those two, in two years, they’ll be scary. They’re young but they’ll keep those kids and get better and better.”

Late start for TaeguThey have only 12 wrestlers, had a scant few days of practice and began their DODDS-Korea campaign a week after the season began. And they took their lumps, losing 59-6 to Osan American and 49-10 to Seoul American at Falcon Gym on Yongsan Garrison.

But at least the Taegu American program is alive and kicking.

“This was just the first meet,” said Warriors coach Jason Warder. “It’s a new program for these guys. We hope we can make an impact at Far East and for the rest of the school.”

The Warriors’ brightest light in Saturday’s tri-meet was Chris Buster, who pinned his opponents in 39 and 37 seconds.

“It shows their program is coming along,” Seoul American coach Julian Harden said. “It gives us somebody else to wrestle. I’d rather have somebody than nobody at all.”

Hoop notes: Rare strategy helps Falcons cage CougarsNot for a long time, if ever, does Seoul American boys basketball coach Steve Boyd remember going with the same defense for a whole game. And not so early in the season does Boyd usually use a man-to-man defense, which he did in Saturday’s 90-41 triumph over the Osan American Cougars.

The Falcons improved to 8-1.

With the shortest outfit he’s had in his five seasons at the Falcons’ helm, the man-to-man was employed out of necessity, Boyd said: “When you have speed and quickness but no size, you have to do something. And it’s working out fine. That was the best complete game we’ve played this season. We’re conditioning hard. You can see it. By the time of the Far East tournament, we’ll be the best-conditioned team there, at the very least.”

Though not scheduled to face International Christian-Seoul in league play, Boyd said he’s interested in at least scrimmaging the Guardians (3-1), who scored their first victory over Pusan American in their four years of existence. ICS-Seoul edged the Panthers 58-53 Saturday.

In Japan, E.J. King’s girls finally lost a game, after getting off to a school-record 7-0 start. The Cobras fell 41-34 to Yokota, getting a split of their Japan League weekend series.

Up north, Robert D. Edgren’s Class A boys team made it three victories in four games against Class AA opponents, downing Zama American 58-47 at the Eagles’ Nest.

But again, the Eagles found themselves in an up-and-down contest, hot one quarter, ice cold the next. They outscored the Trojans 24-16 in the final period after being outscored 13-6 in the third.

"We need to minimize our droughts," said coach Andre Thibert. “We always seem to have one or two quarters in which we don’t score. That’s something we need to work on over the holidays.”


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