by Brett Larner
Nominally running as pacemakers, Kenyans Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) and Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) outdistanced the ten Japanese runners in The Premium Race 3000 m at the Kanto Private Schools Five-University Track Meet at Daito Bunka University on Apr. 12. Along the way they were challenged only by university star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.), who surprisingly bridged the gap to the two Kenyans one km into the race, but in the end it was a two-man show with Ndambiri coming out ahead on the last lap after losing to Ngatuny over 5000 m at last week's Kanaguri Memorial. Ngatuny led Ndambiri and Kashiwabara through the first km in 2:34:19, with Ndambiri taking over for the second km, clocking 5:16:13 and dropping Kashiwabara. Ngatuny resumed the lead for the final km, but Ndambiri sped away with 300 m to go to win in 7:50.66. Ngatuny was just a step behind in 2nd.
Managing to stay on his feet after suffering falls at last year's Cardinal Invitational and National Championships, pro 1500 m runner Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) came from behind to overtake a fading Kashiwabara in the final 600 m for 3rd in 8:08.09. Kashiwabara was 4th in a PB of 8:10:44. While his time was not especially impressive, Kashiwabara showed again that he is not afraid to think big and to try to run with the best, a trait which may serve him well as he continues to develop. A notable no-show was Yuta Takahashi (Josai Univ.), alongside Kashiwabara one of the most talented university runners but likewise a DNS at last month's World Cross Country Championships.
In the overall competition between the five universities at the meet, Josai Univ. scored its first victory of the season by dominating the university 3000 m and scoring big points in the 1500 m and 5000 m to narrowly beat out reigning Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo Univ. Despite none of its runners winning a race, beating Toyo was surely a confidence boost for Josai after its DNF at this year's Hakone. Hosts Daito Bunka Univ. were just a hair behind Toyo, while Heisei Kokusai Univ. consigned Jobu Univ. to 5th despite Jobu's Hiroka Matsushima winning the 800 m.
At this very early stage in the season Toyo's fortunes for a defense of its Hakone title look strong. 2nd yr. Hiroyuki Ono showed progression by winning the university 3000 m with an aggressive last 400 m and 1st yr. recruit Koshi Watanabe beat out a score of older, more experienced runners to win the 5000 m. Although Toyo lost four of its Hakone-winning squad to graduation last month, only one, the solid Tomoya Onishi, will be difficult to replace. Watanabe could prove to be a key part of this year's team.
Kanto Private School Five-University Track Meet
Top Results - Click here for complete results.
The Premium Race 3000 m
1. Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) - 7:50.66
2. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 7:51.13
3. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 8:08.10
4. Ryuji Kashiwabara (2nd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 8:10.44 - PB
5. Keisuke Tanaka (3rd yr., Josai Univ.) - 8:17.69
6. Yoshinori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 8:21.36
7. Akira Kiniwa (Team S&B) - 8:24.62
8. Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:29.49
9. Yusuke Hasegawa (3rd yr., Jobu Univ.) - 8:30.53
10. Akinori Tachibana (Nissan AC) - 8:32.62
11. Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) - 8:34.78
12. Kazuma Kaikura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:35.28
DNS - Yuta Takahashi (4th yr., Josai Univ.)
Overall Team Placing
1. Josai Univ. - 47 pts.
2. Toyo Univ. - 42 pts.
3. Daito Bunka Univ. - 39 pts.
4. Heisei Kokusai Univ. - 19 pts.
5. Jobu Univ. - 18 pts.
Individual Event Winners
800 m - Hiroka Matsushima (1st yr., Jobu Univ.) - 1:56.59
1500 m - Daichi Umeno (1st yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 3:59.51
3000 m - Hiroyuki Uno (2nd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 8:18.86
5000 m - Koshi Watanabe (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 14:20.58
3000 m SC - Kyohei Ichio (3rd yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 9:15.92
MVP - Ryuji Kashiwabara (2nd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 8:10.44 (3000 m PB)
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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