No Zama American Trojan had earned Outstanding Wrestler honors in a Far East tournament in 15 years until David Burnett came along.

No Seoul American girls basketball team had won a Far East Girls Class AA title since 1984 until Janel Daniels came long.

The two seniors that helped put an end to those long droughts have been selected Stars and Stripes’ winter Athletes of the Quarter.

“I’ve not seen any of the athletes here as driven to win as David is,” said Ian Harlow, who began coaching Burnett three seasons ago. “It’s his personality and mentality. He wants to get to the next level. And he knows he can’t do that unless he first wins at this level.”

In Burnett’s sophomore season, he placed fifth in Far East as a heavyweight and earned the “most pins in the least amount of time” award. Since then, he’s gone 60-3, taking gold medals at heavyweight last year as a junior and at 215 pounds last month.

He became Zama’s first Far East Tournament Outstanding Wrestler award winner since Mike Greeson in 1990, and the first two-time Far East gold medalist since the program’s heyday of the 1980s.

Harlow said, “He just comes in and gets down to business. I haven’t seen a kid here at Zama who plans ahead like he does."

Daniels, meanwhile, averaged 19.3 points and 10 rebounds as the Falcons won their first Class AA crown since 1984. She averaged 22.5 points in eight Far East games, including 27 in the AA title game Feb. 26, when Seoul American downed Nile C. Kinnick of Japan.

Seoul American went 14-0 and won the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Leading the way to the win column was Daniels, whose “love for the game can be told by the way that she plays,” Hicks said. “She takes the ball to the hoop and she hates to lose.”

When Daniels was having a down game, she would find ways to get her teammates involved on offense and defense “so that other players on the team would be successful,” Hicks said. “A lot of times, when things were in a lull, she was the one person who picked it up and started the energy going again.”

Winter season awards:

Coach: Terry Chumley burst from former Kubasaki wrestling coach Jeff Pellaton’s shadow. A young team with no returning gold medalists went to Far East and took four golds and the dual-meet and individual team titles.

Program: Behind MVP Z’aire Jackson, Kadena’s boys basketball won the Far East Boys Class AA title on its home court. Girls basketball finished fourth, while the wrestling team took third at the “Beast,” fifth in the dual meet and second in the individual freestyle in Far East.

Most improved team: Tiny Pusan American’s boys basketball team went 10-12 a season ago. But this year, behind point guard Moses Joh and junior James Edwards, the Panthers improved to 29-6 — best overall record among Korean boys teams.

Most improved program: Yokota. After a 15-14 record last year, the Panthers’ boys went 24-4 and lost 66-62 to Kadena in the Class AA finals. The girls, after a 13-13 campaign in 2003-04, improved to 29-4 and third place in Class AA. Panthers wrestling improved from eighth to fourth in the individual freestyle team standings on the team’s home mats in Far East.

Wrestling dual meet of the quarter: Since the Far East dual-meet tournament began in 1995, never had the championship meet come down to a tiebreaker. Kubasaki and Kinnick tied 26-26 but the Dragons claimed the crown by scoring three pins to the Red Devils’ two.

Wrestling match of the quarter: In a memorable Feb. 19 dual meet at Yokota’s Capps Gym, the 158-pound bout made all the difference. Kinnick’s Andrew Brown won a 5-3 decision over Kris Martinez, but by bridging off his shoulders for more than a minute and avoiding a pinfall defeat, Martinez scored one team point for Kubasaki. Had he lost by pin, Kinnick would have won the dual meet and the Far East title 27-25.

Basketball game of the quarter: Gary Wright’s rebound putback with 1.6 seconds left boosted Kadena over Okinawa arch-rival Kubasaki in the Class AA semifinals Feb. 25 at the Panther Pit.

Basketball shot of the quarter: Kinnick junior Lualhati Johnson heaved a prayer from halfcourt that was answered. Her three-point basket as time ran out gave the Red Devils a 57-55 victory over Yokota in the Far East Girls Class AA quarterfinals at Collier Field House on Yongsan Garrison’s South Post.

Best strategy: Kinnick wrestling coach Robby Rhinehart’s gamble in the Far East dual-meet final with Kubasaki. He moved Yamato Cibulka and Joey Wood, his regular 158 and 168 pounders, up a weight each to 168 and 180, trying for as many team points as he could, with his regular 180-pounder Chris Sanders not feeling well. The only thing that kept it from working was Martinez’s heroics for Kubasaki at 158 pounds.

Athlete of the Quarter nominees

x-David Burnett, senior, wrestling, Zama American, Japan; x-Janel Daniels, senior, girls basketball, Seoul American; x-Kirk Long, senior, boys basketball, Faith Academy, Philippines; x-Celine Cruz, senior, girls basketball, St. Paul Christian, Guam; x-Z’aire Jackson, junior, boys basketball, Kadena, Okinawa; Ryland Geiger, freshman, wrestling, Brent International-Laguna (Manila), Philippines; Louie Lee, senior, wrestling, Robert D. Edgren, Japan; Victor Lee, junior, wrestling, Robert D. Edgren, Japan; Mari Look, senior, girls basketball, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan; Devon Copeland, senior, wrestling, Kadena, Okinawa; Terence Reid, senior, boys basketball, Kadena, Okinawa; Steve Courtney, sophomore, wrestling, Kubasaki, Okinawa; Marcus Carson, senior, boys basketball, Kubasaki, Okinawa; Ronnie Stephens, senior, boys basketball, Kubasaki, Okinawa; Stephen Thompson, junior, boys basketball, Kubasaki, Okinawa; Mark Bote, senior, boys basketball, E.J.; King, Japan; Draonne Johnson, senior, boys basketball, E.J.; King, Japan; Kristia Suriban, freshman, girls basketball, E.J.; King, Japan; Joey Wood, senior, wrestling, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan; Yamato Cibulka, junior, wrestling, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan; Travis Ekmark, junior, boys basketball, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan; Jasmine Jordan, senior, girls basketball, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan; Heather Craker, junior, girls basketball, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan; Greg Grobler, senior, boys basketball, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan; Van Hauter, senior, boys basketball, Osan American, South Korea; Mina Davis, senior, girls basketball, Osan American, South Korea; Elizabeth Juergens, junior, girls basketball, Osan American, South Korea; Margaret Nurse, junior, girls basketball, Osan American, South Korea; Sharon Kroening, senior, girls basketball, Osan American, South Korea; Adam Krievs, senior, wrestling, Nile C. Kinnick/Matthew C. Perry, Japan; James Edwards, junior, boys basketball, Pusan American, South Korea; Moses Joh, senior, boys basketball, Pusan American, South Korea; Brieanna Carroll, senior, girls basketball, Pusan American, South Korea; Kristine Meany, freshman, girls basketball, Pusan American, South Korea; Mark Striegl, junior, wrestling, St; Mary’s International, Japan; Jun Dambara, senior, boys basketball, St; Mary’s International, Japan; Mallary Duenas, senior, girls basketball, St. Paul Christian, Guam; Jay Higgins, junior, boys basketball, Seoul American; Ashley Gooch, senior, girls basketball, Taegu American, South Korea; Kenny Harris, sophomore, boys basketball, Taegu American, South Korea; Cameron Cooper, senior, boys basketball, Yokota, Japan; Patrick Pamintuan, freshman, wrestling, Yokota, Japan; Jason Rodriguez, freshman, wrestling, Yokota, Japan; Zach Dopslaf, senior, wrestling, Yokota, Japan; Charlotte Taylor, freshman, girls basketball, Yokota, Japan; Tiffani Wright, junior, girls basketball, Zama American, Japan.

x-Automatically nominated as Most Valuable or Outstanding Player in basketball or wrestling in Far East 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 covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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