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Girls overall winner Sofia Sato of Sacred Heart opens up space between her and teammate Payton Osborne, Zama's Liliana Fennessey and Matthew C. Perry's Jane Williams, the DODEA All-Japan winner.

Girls overall winner Sofia Sato of Sacred Heart opens up space between her and teammate Payton Osborne, Zama's Liliana Fennessey and Matthew C. Perry's Jane Williams, the DODEA All-Japan winner. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

TOKYO – Call Saturday the day of the Samurai transfers.

Matthew C. Perry junior Tyler Gaines placed second overall and first among DODEA boys runners, while junior Jane Williams took third overall and tops among DODEA girls athletes as the Samurai swept the individual titles in Saturday’s DODEA All-Japan cross country meet.

“Every once in a while, we get one,” coach Brad Cramer said of Gaines and Williams, who transferred to Perry from the states, giving the Samurai two marquee runners.

Saturday’s meet was held on the lower 5-kilometer course at Tama Hills Recreation Center in Tokyo’s western suburbs. It was the first meet since the 2019 Far East meet to feature DODEA athletes from Japan and Okinawa, plus international-school runners from the Tokyo area.

Gaines moved to Perry over the summer after running last year in Fort Myers, Fla. On Saturday, he finished behind Jong In Lee of St. Mary’s, 17 minutes, 10.6 seconds, to 17:22.2.

This after winning three regular-season DODEA-Japan races and finishing seventh overall in last week’s Kanto Plain finals, also at Tama.

He expressed disappointment with Saturday’s performance, saying he thinks he can do better come the DODEA Far East virtual meet Oct. 24-25. He won that meet as a freshman for E.J. King two years ago in 16:59.

“My time was horrible,” Gaines said, adding he hoped he could break 17 minutes as he did in Florida. “Even with all that training, I’m just not moving. I want to break 17 again, because I haven’t been doing it.”

Matthew C. Perry junior Tyler Gaines keeps pace with overall race winner Jong in Lee of St. Mary's and Simon Nakamura of Christian Academy Japan, who finished third.

Matthew C. Perry junior Tyler Gaines keeps pace with overall race winner Jong in Lee of St. Mary's and Simon Nakamura of Christian Academy Japan, who finished third. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Williams came to Perry from the state of Washington early this season, taking second in one regular-season meet and third in the Kanto finals.

On Saturday, she clocked 20:08.9, behind only Sacred Heart’s Sofia Sato (19:29.7) and Payton Osborne (19:55.9).

“It’s nice to have the work finally pay off,” Williams said of taking the DODEA All-Japan title. She said she was impressed with Sato, who broke the course record Saturday.

Cramer said he’s been impressed with how Williams has improved since arriving at Perry. “She was running in the 23s and 24s when she got here; now, she’s running in the 20s,” Cramer said. “She has improved really hard and really fast. She can go.”

The DODEA Far East virtual meet is scheduled over two days, with King running at Perry; Robert D. Edgren, Zama and Nile C. Kinnick running at Yokota; Kadena at Kubasaki on Okinawa; and Osan and Daegu running at Humphreys. Each runner goes 12½ laps around a track.

“Far East on that track, it’s going to be a different story,” Gaines said of attempting to make it two Far East titles.

“I’m excited to see how fast everyone can run on the track,” Williams said.

“That’s what we train for; everything is for the end of the season,” Cramer said.

While DODEA Division II runners won the individual titles, Division I schools captured the team championships.

Kadena outpointed Kinnick in the boys standings 51-69. Joseph Dluzeski of Kadena placed seventh overall and third among DODEA runners, while Kinnick’s Maverick Kentz and Soul Vessels took fourth and ninth overall and second and fourth among DODEA runners.

Kinnick returned the favor in the girls standings, scoring 39 points to Kadena’s 52. Mia Bartram, Bree Withers and Victoria Justice of Kinnick took seventh, eighth and 10th overall and fourth, fifth and seventh among DODEA runners. Kadena’s Jolyn Botes was ninth overall and sixth in the DODEA standings.

Among other DODEA girls finishers, Zama’s Liliana Fennessey took fourth overall and second among DODEA and Kubasaki’s Makayla Saeteurn – unbeaten on Okinawa this season – took fifth and third.

Kadena’s former two-time Okinawa champion Karise Johnson, Yokota’s Rebecca Brough and Kubasaki’s Bella Clark took eighth, ninth and 10th among DODEA runners.

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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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