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St. Mary's heavyweight Chidi Agbo gets the upper hand on Yokota's Jesse Hogan during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Agbo, the reigning Far East gold medalist, won by pin in 3 minutes, 50 seconds and St. Mary's beat Yokota 35-25.

St. Mary's heavyweight Chidi Agbo gets the upper hand on Yokota's Jesse Hogan during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Agbo, the reigning Far East gold medalist, won by pin in 3 minutes, 50 seconds and St. Mary's beat Yokota 35-25. (Sheina Marie Staley/Special to Stars and Stripes)

St. Mary's heavyweight Chidi Agbo gets the upper hand on Yokota's Jesse Hogan during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Agbo, the reigning Far East gold medalist, won by pin in 3 minutes, 50 seconds and St. Mary's beat Yokota 35-25.

St. Mary's heavyweight Chidi Agbo gets the upper hand on Yokota's Jesse Hogan during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Agbo, the reigning Far East gold medalist, won by pin in 3 minutes, 50 seconds and St. Mary's beat Yokota 35-25. (Sheina Marie Staley/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Nile C. Kinnick 108-pounder Brady Yoder gets the upper hand on Yokota's Zach Esteron during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Yoder won a superior decision. Kinnick and Yokota tied 31-31, with Yokota winning on fewer forfeits.

Nile C. Kinnick 108-pounder Brady Yoder gets the upper hand on Yokota's Zach Esteron during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Yoder won a superior decision. Kinnick and Yokota tied 31-31, with Yokota winning on fewer forfeits. (Sheina Marie Staley/Special to Stars and Stripes)

St. Mary's 129-pounder Soma Yoshida gets the edge on Nile C. Kinnick's Marvin Newbins during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Yoshida, a reigning Far East gold medalist, won a superior decision and St. Mary's beat Kinnick 36-22 and won the Division I team title.

St. Mary's 129-pounder Soma Yoshida gets the edge on Nile C. Kinnick's Marvin Newbins during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Yoshida, a reigning Far East gold medalist, won a superior decision and St. Mary's beat Kinnick 36-22 and won the Division I team title. (Hannah May Greer Hicks/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Nile C. Kinnick 215-pounder Ian O'Brien tries to gain the upper hand on St. Mary's Sean Ward during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Ward rallied to win by decision and St. Mary's beat Kinnick 36-22 and won the Division I team title.

Nile C. Kinnick 215-pounder Ian O'Brien tries to gain the upper hand on St. Mary's Sean Ward during Saturday's Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament at Zama American High School, Japan. Ward rallied to win by decision and St. Mary's beat Kinnick 36-22 and won the Division I team title. (Hannah May Greer Hicks/Special to Stars and Stripes)

This report has been corrected

The closer Far East gets, and the more regular-season tournament titles it wins, the more St. Mary’s International’s wrestling program takes on the “team to beat” label, opposing coaches say.

“They look like the team that won it all last year and lost two wrestlers from that team,” said Brian Kitts, whose Yokota Panthers finished second behind the Titans in Saturday’s Zama American High School Invitational Dual-Meet Tournament.

“They’re in the driver’s seat, that’s for sure,” Kitts said. “Some teams have talent. Some teams have work ethic. They have both.”

But as he did after winning the Nile C. Kinnick Invitational “Beast of the Far East” Tournament, Titans coach Ian Harlow says he isn’t putting the cart before the horse.

“It’s great to be in position to win, but that puts pressure on us,” Harlow said. “The question is, how do we respond do it? You have to prove you deserve to be in that position. Everybody else will get better” in the run-up to Far East Feb. 13-16 at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Among his charges, reigning Far East gold medalists Soma Yoshida (129) and Chidi Agbo (heavyweight) ran the table Saturday, but Harlow said he was particularly pleased with the work of Sean Ward (215), Kaimi Miyazawa (108) and Kevin Miller (180).

“They’re the ones who are going to have to bring their level up” to be ready for Far East, Harlow said.

Eyeing other teams in Saturday’s event, Harlow said Yokota’s Chantz Yazzie (115) and Jesse Hogan (heavyweight) will bear considerable watching. Hogan is “getting better,” Harlow said; Hogan gave Agbo a battle before falling in 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

Then, there’s Chad Wilder of Zama American, who helped the Trojans to a second-place D-II finish. “He knows how to do some throws,” Harlos said.

The Titans swept their three dual meets in the Division I portion of the Zama tournament. Yokota and Kinnick each went 1-1-1, wrestling to a 31-31 draw in their dual meet, but Yokota won out based on fewer forfeit losses.

Zama finished second behind Far East Division II Tournament favorite Robert D. Edgren.

“Kanto is looking pretty tough right now,” Kitts said.

It was the first time in three years that Zama American hosted an in-season tournament. “For not doing a tournament in awhile, they did a really good job,” Harlow said. He coached at Zama before being hired at St. Mary’s six years ago.

Meanwhile, in the fourth DODDS Korea tri-meet of the season, Seoul American remained perfect, beating Daegu and Osan American to run its record to 8-0. Osan American beat Daegu High for the second time this season, evening each team's record at 2-6.

Falcons coach Chris Dickinson said he experimented with several wrestlers, including 129-pound contender Robert Rhea, moving them up one weight “to see what they could do against heavier wrestlers and challenge them, and they responded.”

if(typeof(dstb)!= "undefined"){ dstb();}CorrectionOsan American beat Daegu High for the second time this season, evening each team's record at 2-6.


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