It seemed to some the bout would never end: Cael Bowen of Nile C. Kinnick and Caleb Heino of Yokota going at it, hammer and tongs, in the finals of the 101-pound weight class in Saturday’s Christian Academy Japan Invitational.

“A couple of 101-pound savages,” Panthers coach Ty Gaume said after Bowen prevailed, 14-13, in the title bout, one of seven titles won by the Red Devils.

“That was an incredible battle. Two scrappy wrestlers,” Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said following the tournament, in which the Red Devils answered the call – albeit an early one – to prove they’re ready to chase defending champion St. Mary’s for league and Far East honors.

Chon Dareing (115), two-time Far East champion Lucas Wirth (122), Devoney Stanley (129), Kameron Leon Guerrero (141), Dwayne Lyon (180) and Kent Jenista (heavyweight) all won as Kinnick scored 104 team points, 44 ahead of the Titans, their chief rivals.

Three-time Far East winner Chang Young Lee was St. Mary’s lone champion, at 135. The other two returning Far East champions for the Titans, Rio Lemkuil and Ryo Osawa, did not wrestle Saturday.

Other winners in the first individual tournament of the season were JinWi Park (168), Callum Marshall (158) and Jordan Van Druff of host CAJ and Patrick Sledge (215) of Robert D. Edgren.

CAJ’s performance was not lost on Gaume, whose Yokota team now has to square up against the Knights, in their first year as a Division II school. Yokota won the Far East Division II dual meet last February.

“They’re very well coached and they have lots of veterans with experience,” Gaume said of the Knights. “They’ll challenge us and give us a run for our money at Far East.”

Gaume also watched as Leon Guerrero, who wrestled for Yokota last year and transferred to Kinnick this season, beat his own son Emerson for gold at 141.

“He’s a great athlete and a great teammate,” Gaume said of Guerrero. “He’s a huge loss for us and a great pickup for Kinnick. He could make a difference for them at Far East.”

Sledge was unable to make weight at 180 and slid up to 215, where he won all three of his bouts by pin. Sledge’s coach, Bill Schofield, said Sledge was “disappointed” not to make 180 and perhaps turn the tables on Lyon, who beat Sledge in the Edgren Invitational a week ago.

“But he did very well at 215,” Schofield said. “He had an awesome day. He didn’t spend any more than three minutes on the mat.”

Wrestling season also opened in Korea, where Seoul American hosted the first quad dual meet of the season.

While not many bouts were contested because the Division II school teams’ ranks are somewhat thin, Daegu’s Hunter Lane – a Far East runner-up last year – and teammate Jake Dexter each won their bouts on mat, as did Osan newcomer Hunter VanHoose, a transfer from Idaho.

The host Falcons won all three of their dual meets, Humphreys won twice and Osan once. They wrestle again at Seoul American on Friday.

Cobras boys, Samurai girls capture WJAA hoops titlesE.J. King’s boys lost at the buzzer against Matthew C. Perry the last time they took the court in a Western Japan Athletic Association basketball tournament. On Saturday at Canadian Academy, the Cobras left nothing to chance, battering Yokohama 53-35 in the final.

“They were glad to get it back,” said coach Laird Small of the Cobras, who have gotten off to their best start in 13 years at 7-0. Their finals opponent, the Dragons, “were tough, the strongest of the teams we played here.”

Across Osaka Bay at Senri-Osaka, Perry’s girls completed an unbeaten weekend behind the guard play of Sakura Fleming (15.5 points per game) and the inside game of Lebet Erhart (14 rebounds, 5.5 steals). The Samurai rallied from a six-point deficit to beat the host Sabres 36-27.

“That was a hard game, a very tough game,” coach Brad Cramer said. “It was tough. SOIS is no joke.”

Cramer was especially pleased, he said, with the play of Erhart, Fleming and point guard Devon Shuman. “They stepped up and did some things for us,” Cramer said.

On the hardwood at Taejon Christian, Seoul American’s boys, rebuilding in the backcourt but strong inside with brothers DeAndre and Quintin Metcalf, saw a glimmer of hope at guard due to the play of Josh Nix.

The junior scored 18 points and dished out five assists as the Falcons made their season debut by routing the Dragons 73-35 on Friday.

“He has matured quite well,” Falcons assistant coach Keith Fointno said of Nix, who ran point for Seoul American’s jayvee last season. Fointno says Nix’s ability to penetrate and his shots are coming to the fore.

“He had four or five easy buckets,” Fointno said. “He’s showed us that he’s worked hard. If he can continue to build on last night, he will definitely contribute.”

Another team on the rise is Zama’s boys. After winning only their ninth-place game at Far East D-II last year, the Trojans, behind the play of Jeremiah Stewart, have begun 3-1, thanks to a weekend sweep of Edgren. They won 91-60 on Saturday and 79-66 on Friday.

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