Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tokai Wins National University Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier

by Brett Larner



Tokai University took the top spot at the 2010 National University Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier track meet June 26 at Tokyo's National Stadium. With the top six schools at last year's Nationals seeded for this year's championships on Nov. 7, other schools across the country must compete in regional qualifier meets this month to requalify. Consisting of four 10000 m heats of forty runners, each made up of two runners from twenty schools, the combined times of the eight runners from each school are used to determine the team scores at the Kanto Region Qualifier. The five fastest overall schools go on to Nationals.

Tokai came out first on a windy but rain-free evening thanks to strong showings from Heat Four sophomore aces Akinobu Murasawa and Tsubasa Hayakawa along with a Heat Three win from star frosh Daichi Motomura. Joining Tokai at Nationals will be Josai Univ., Kokushikan Univ., Teikyo Univ. and Nittai Univ. Takushoku Univ. missed out on making the cut despite a dominating 1-2 performance in Heat Four by its Kenyan frosh pair of Duncan Mozay and John Maina. A surprising absence was 2010 Hakone Ekiden runner-up Komazawa Univ., which missed the seeded bracket by one place at last year's National Ekiden but did not run at the Qualifier meet.

In terms of individual action, Heat Four offered the most interesting race. Mozay's win was all but a given after the fastest man in the field, Jobu Univ. senior Yusuke Hasegawa, scratched with injury. Mozay and teammate Maina shared lead duties throughout the race after breaking away from the Japanese pack, Maina finishing 2nd less than three seconds off his PB. The race had been billed as a duel between Murasawa and the runner who beat him for the 5000 m win at last month's Kanto Regionals, Kokushikan Univ. junior Taku Fujimoto. The pair indeed dueled and Murasawa came out ahead, but neither placed as well as expected. Fujimoto was the only runner to try to go with Mozay and Maina, eventually finishing 8th nearly 30 seconds behind Murasawa. Murasawa, again showing weakness in his final kick, lost out to Nittai Univ. senior Kazuya Deguchi and Josai Univ. sophomore Dai Nakahara over the final lap. Nakahara ran an outstanding race, the only one in the top ten to run a PB, but could not match the finishing speed of Deguchi who ran a strange last 100 m on a diagonal out to lane seven.



Heat Three also had some good action. The race should have belonged to sub-29 man Takuya Noguchi of Nittai Univ., on the way back from injury. Instead, little-heralded Teikyo Univ. senior Tomonao Nishimura was at the forefront throughout the race, repeatedly surging to shake up the other leaders. The winner was an even bigger surprise, as Tokai Univ. ace frosh Daichi Motomura had an outstanding kick over the last 200 m to take the top spot away from the two seniors.

2010 National University Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier
Top Individual Results
1. Duncan Mozay (1st yr., Takushoku Univ.) - 28:39.80
2. John Maina (1st yr., Takushoku Univ.) - 28:45.99
3. Kazuya Deguchi (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 29:05.71
4. Dai Nakahara (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 29:06.00 - PB
5. Akinobu Murasawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 29:09.61
6. Masaki Ito (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 29:09.74
7. Tsubasa Hayakawa (2nd yr, Tokai Univ.) - 29:09.76
8. Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 29:35.00
9. Keisuke Tanaka (4th yr., Josai Univ.) - 29:50.98
10. Ryota Nakamura (4th yr., Teikyo Univ.) - 29:51.82

1. Daichi Motomura (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 29:46.10
2. Tomonao Nishimura (4th yr., Teikyo Univ.) - 29:47.89
3. Takuya Noguchi (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 29:48.58

Heat Two
1. Kenta Fukuda (2nd yr., Kanagawa Univ.) - 31:13.87

Heat One
1. Hideaki Tamura (4th yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 30:10.76

Heat Five (unscored)
1. Keisuke Fujii (2nd yr., Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 30:30.20

Top Team Results
1. Tokai Univ. - 4:02:43.58
2. Josai Univ. - 4:02:52.55
3. Kokushikan Univ. - 4:03:42.22
4. Teikyo Univ. - 4:03:45.21
5. Nittai Univ. - 4:03:54.48
-----
6. Aoyama Gakuin Univ. - 4:04:41.42
7. Takushoku Univ. - 4:04:45.13
8. Kanagawa Univ. - 4:05:09.21
9. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. - 4:05:22.34
10. Kokugakuin Univ. - 4:07:00.32

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any ideas why Komazawa chose not to compete?

Brett Larner said...

I haven't heard anything in particular, but it was surprising as they have a very, very solid crew of first-years and several of the second-years have run exceptionally well this spring. Komazawa has won Nationals many times in recent years so it would be even more surprising if Oyagi just skipped it. Maybe they were given a slot after finishing 2nd at Hakone this year.