by Brett Larner
Four distance races featured Japanese and Japan-based athletes on the second day of the Mt. SAC Relays meet in Walnut, CA.
Former high school and university star Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) showed that he has finally overcome the illness which kept him under medical treatment for most of 2008, running a PB of 3:42.51 to finish 5th in the men's invitational 1500 m. Ueno was also entered in the invitational 5000 m but wisely sat it out.
Kenyan Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) easily dominated the women's invitational 5000 m, starting slowly and gradually accelerating to grind down her competitors. She finished in 15:23.33 nearly 11 seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher Christin Wurth-Thomas (Nike). Over 30 seconds off her PB, the run amounted to little more than a buildup practice run for the talented Ongori.
In Ueno's absence, Honda teammates Suehiro Ishikawa and Seigo Ikegami, the top Japanese men in last month's World Cross-Country Championships, were the sole Japanese entrants in the men's invitational 5000 m. Each turned in solid if unremarkable early-season performances around 3 seconds of their PBs, Ishikawa 25th in 13:45.92 and Ikegami 27th in 13:50.79.
Ueno's former Saku Chosei High School teammate and university-era rival Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) made his professional debut with Nissin in the men's Olympic development 5000 m. Sato, who holds a PB of 13:23.57, ran in the B-level heat as part of his continued recovery from injuries which have kept him sub-par since last summer. He was 3rd in 13:48.71, his best time since getting injured but one which shows how much ground he still needs to make up to regain his former level. Sato's Nissin teammate Satoru Kitamura, a 2008 graduate of the currently scandal-plagued Nittai University, was a surprise DNS.
Complete results from the Mt. SAC Relays are available here.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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