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Takezawa Leads Japanese Runners at Cardinal Invitational

by Brett Larner

The Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at California's Stanford University has always been a big meet for top Japanese runners. It was the site of both the current men's and women's national records, and although in the last two years Japan's focus has shifted more to Berkeley's Brutus Hamilton Invitational a solid group of athletes will again line up at this year's Cardinal Invitational on May 1.

Leading the way is #1-ranked Japanese man Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B). He's the one who ran 13:19.00 and 27:45.59 as a 20 year old. Injured for a year after that, he spent most of last year working his way back up and hopes to knock down both his 5000 m and 10000 m PBs this season. A 13:33.61 opener at the Kanaguri Memorial Meet two weeks ago was promising, but at last week's Brutus Hamilton Invitational 5000 m Takezawa ran only 13:47.30. That's exactly the pace he would need to run to have a shot at Toshinari Takaoka's national record of 27:35.09, which doesn't sound too likely. It would be great to see him have a go at his American equivalent, Galen Rupp, but at this stage anything under 28 would put him in an excellent position for something faster later in the season. Joining Takezawa in the 10000 m is another sub-28 man, Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo), who is coached by Takaoka.

Three men will run the 5000 m A-heat, university runners Yusuke Hasegawa (Jobu Univ.) and star first-year Yufu Ikuto (Komazawa Univ.), and young pro Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo). Along with Takezawa and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Kihara is one of the best Japanese men of his generation but has so far been mostly invisible since his graduation last year.

With no Japanese women scheduled to run, two more men round out the team. Steepler Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) will run after placing 3rd at Brutus Hamilton, while 1500 m Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) returns to his main event after running the 5000 m at Brutus Hamilton.

Click here for complete start lists. The Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational takes place May 1 and will be broadcast live by paid webcast through the Stanford website and CBS Sports. Look for recorded versions of the races and athlete interviews later on Flotrack.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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