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Explosive running backs have long been a Yokota Panthers football tradition. Kadena High is just beginning a tradition for standout cross country runners.

Senior back Chris Roach, who led Yokota to its fifth straight Rising Sun Bowl All-Japan championship, and junior runner Niki Kauzlarich, who paced Kadena to a record Far East meet finish, share Stars and Stripes’ 2004 fall season Athlete of the Quarter honors.

From the moment Roach arrived at Yokota with his older brother Roy last year, Panthers coach Tim Pujol sensed that he was “a special guy.”

While Roy set a Japan Football League record with 1,891 yards in 2003, Chris played a “more subordinate, more low-profile” role, Pujol said, netting 951 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions for the Panthers.

“[Chris] knew he was going to have to handle a heavier load offensively this season” as Yokota’s featured back, Pujol said. “He emerged into that more prominent role, more of a leadership role, something he did very well.”

Well enough to amass 1,603 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 183 carries and four more TDs on returns as Yokota won its sixth straight JFL and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles. The Panthers outscored their foes 330-34.

Pujols said Roach, a 4.0 GPA student, set the example on the field with his talent and humility.

“He always has a lot of praise for the people around him, gives them credit, doesn’t toot his own horn,” Pujol said. “He’s there to help up players after a play and pat them on the back for a job well done.”

Kauzlarich, a 4.2 GPA student, won all nine Okinawa Activities Council races, defended her island championship, then became the second straight Kadena runner to win the Far East meet’s 3.1-mile individual race.

The Panthers won every award inthe Far East meet, placing a record eight runners on the All-Far East team.

Kauzlarich’s quiet leadership and work ethic helped raise the competitive level of her teammates, coach Tom McKinney said.

“Niki was always in the right place at the right time,” McKinney said. Kauzlarich was willing to alter her own workouts to help her teammates, even running back in the pack to demonstrate a good pace and how to keep it going.

“She was a dedicated runner and she knew where she wanted to be when the season was over,” McKinney said. “When she went to Far East, Niki had the mind-set that nobody was going to beat her. She showed she had the determination to win, and she did.”

The rest of the Stars and Stripes fall sports quarter awards:

COACH OF THE QUARTER: Bonnie Seeley’s Yokota girls volleyball team rose from the ashes of a 7-11 season in 2003 to match the school’s best Far East Class AA Tournament finish — fifth place — after compiling a 15-7 regular-season record.

TEAM OF THE QUARTER: Kadena cross country, with its history-making Far East meet feats.

MOST IMPROVED TEAM: Yokota girls volleyball.

OUTSTANDING PROGRAM: Kadena won the Far East tennis, cross country and cheerleading championships, and the Islanders’ captured their first outright Okinawa Activities Council football title since 1983.

CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS OF THE QUARTER: Aside from Kadena, St. Mary’s International of Tokyo enjoyed an unbeaten Kanto Plain boys season, while Seoul Foreign ran the table in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference.

CROSS COUNTRY RUNNERS OF THE QUARTER: Turner and Kauzlarich made it a sweep for Kadena in the DODDS-Pacific meet, while St. Mary’s J.M. Kwak and Seoul Foreign’s Alanna Bennett capped unbeaten seasons by winning the Asia-Pacific Invitational meet’s 3.1-mile races on Nov. 8 on Guam.

FOOTBALL TEAMS OF THE QUARTER: The Islanders won all eight games on their way to the OAC title. Seoul American claimed its fourth straight Korea title and ran its winning streak to 20 games.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE QUARTER: In his first year of football, Terry Stephens of Osan American rambled for 1,008 yards and 10 touchdowns on 87 carries in just four games, including a Korea-record 343 yards on 25 carries in the season finale against Taegu American. Keith Loving helped pace the Islanders to the OAC title with 1,084 yards and 13 touchdowns on 171 carries.

TENNIS TEAMS OF THE QUARTER: Joining Kadena at the top of the heap were St. Mary’s boys and the American School In Japan’s girls, who ruled the Kanto Plain, and KAIAC champion Seoul International.

TENNIS PLAYERS OF THE QUARTER: Amy Lopes of Kadena became the first DODDS-Pacific Far East tournament girls gold medalist in nine years, while James Edwards of Pusan American won the boys bracket.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL TEAMS OF THE QUARTER: Far East tournament time was an all-Guam party, with Academy of Our Lady extending its Class AA title record to nine, and Notre Dame of Guam grabbing its first Class A crown in its first appearance there.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE QUARTER: Academy’s Emma Gillan was merely unstoppable, as was Nicole Tainatongo of Notre Dame in capturing respective MVP awards. Yokota’s fifth-place Class AA finish might not have been possible without the hustle of senior setter Darlene Seeley.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A TRANSFER: With no football program at Matthew C. Perry this season, senior Adam Krievs moved to Nile C. Kinnick, where he ran 98 times for 613 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll remain at Kinnick for the wrestling season.

BEST NEWCOMER: Sophomore Lindsey Jackson came to Taegu American from Clovis, N.M., and assumed the setter’s role on the girls volleyball team, lifting the Warriors to second place in the KAIAC tournament.

GAME OF THE QUARTER: Yokota edged Kinnick 7-6 in a driving rain on Sept. 29 at Yokosuka Naval Base. Roach’s 4-yard scoring run at the start of the fourth quarter and Stefan Welch’s extra point overcame Lynce’s 1-yard third-quarter sneak in a classic defensive struggle.

PLAY OF THE QUARTER: In that same game, Mark Dixon blocked an extra-point try after Lynce’s touchdown, helping to save Yokota’s perfect season.

MOST UNUSUAL MOMENT: During a Kanto Plain tennis match Sept. 18 at Yokosuka, a seahawk dropped a fish onto the court, interrupting play for five minutes. Kinnick coach Nico Hindie attempted to toss the fish back to the hawk, “but he didn’t take the bait,” Hindie recalled.

The nominees ...

Fall Athletes of the Quarter nominees

Football

Ted Awana, jr., Kadena Islanders, Okinawa.

David Burnett, sr., Zama American, Japan.

Joey Chop, sr., Guam High.

Jon Hamilton, jr., Taegu American, South Korea.

Angel Hickman, fr., Taegu American, South Korea.

Chris Johnson, sr., Zama American, Japan.

Adam Krievs, sr., Nile C. Kinnick, Japan.

Keith Loving, sr., Kadena Islanders, Okinawa.

Leonard Lynce, sr., Nile C. Kinnick, Japan.

Stcyr Madayag, sr., Kadena Islanders, Okinawa.

David McCowan, sr., Kadena Islanders, Okinawa.

Donovan Nance, sr., Zama American, Japan.

Leo Pacheco, sr., Seoul American.

Grady Pennell, sr., Kadena Islanders, Okinawa.

x-Chris Roach, sr., Yokota, Japan.

Tyler Schmidt, sr., Kadena Buccaneers, Okinawa.

Stephen Scott, fr., Taegu American, South Korea.

Ronnie Stephens, sr., Kubasaki, Okinawa.

Terry Stephens, sr., Osan American, South Korea.

Scott Tunis, sr., Seoul American.

Joey Wood, sr., Nile C. Kinnick, Japan.

Cross country

x-Alanna Bennett, sr., Seoul Foreign.

Justin Biskup, sr., Matthew C. Perry, Japan.

x-Niki Kauzlarich, jr., Kadena, Okinawa.

x-J.M. Kwak, jr., St. Mary’s International, Tokyo.

Andrea Paulson, sr., Taegu American, South Korea.

Jade Thrasher, fr., Robert D. Edgren, Japan.

x-Jon Turner, sr., Kadena, Okinawa.

Girls volleyball

Sarah Bushong, sr., Guam High.

Heather Craker, jr., Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan.

x-Emma Gillan, sr., Academy of Our Lady, Guam.

Shella Mesa, sr., Guam High.

x-Nicole Tainatongo, sr., Notre Dame, Guam.

Catherine Thornton, so., American School In Japan, Tokyo.

Lindsey Jackson, so., Taegu American, South Korea.

Ashley Gooch, sr., Taegu American, South Korea.

Darlene Seeley, sr., Yokota, Japan.

Kara Baccus, sr., Osan American, South Korea.

Margaret Nurse, jr., Osan American, South Korea.

Arlie Boera, sr., Robert D. Edgren, Japan.

Boys volleyball

Andrew Jasper, sr., Seoul Foreign.

Tennis

Frances Delossantos, sr., Kubasaki, Okinawa.

Aska Dvorjak, sr., Seisen International, Tokyo.

x-James Edwards, jr., Pusan American, South Korea.

Malika Hayashi, sr., American School In Japan, Tokyo.

Carol Lee, sr., Seoul International.

x-Amy Lopes, so., Kadena, Okinawa.

Amanda Reiff, sr., Osan American, South Korea.

x-automatically nominated as Most Valuable Player or individual champion of a DODDS-Pacific Far East or other Pacificwide tournament.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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