translated and edited by Brett Larner
On Jan. 18 Junichi Seino, 27, head coach of Sendai Ikuei High School's ekiden team, announced that he intends to resign from both his position as coach and as a member of the school's teaching staff following the completion of the academic year at the end of March.
At the Dec. 25 National High School Ekiden Championships in Kyoto, Sendai Ikuei H.S. was one of the favorites for the win but finished only 12th. According to a source connected with the situation, following the race Seino took full personal responsibility for the team's poor performance. The school proposed a plan under which previous head coach Takao Watanabe, under whose leadership Sendai Ikuei won six national titles including the still-standing course record with ace Samuel Wanjiru, would return to take over with Seino remaining to work in tandem with him. Seino flatly rejected the proposal. Parents of the team's current members protested the school's plan and strongly asked him to remain in his current capacity, but Seino replied with his resignation. "What they've suggested is unbelievable and disrespectful to the others involved. I cannot accept it," Seino said.
Seino is a local, a native of nearby Zao, Miyagi. As a sophomore at Sendai Ikuei H.S. he was a member of its National High School Ekiden champion team as well as one of the ten men on Juntendo University's Hakone Ekiden winning team as a senior there. Following his graduation from Juntendo in 2007 he returned to Sendai Ikuei to become assistant coach under Watanabe. He became head coach a year later in April, 2008 when Watanabe resigned to become the personal coach of Sendai Ikuei graduate and women's junior 10000 m national record holder Megumi Kinukawa. In Seino's first year as head coach Sendai Ikuei's boys team finished 2nd at the National High School Ekiden Championships.
Following his departure Seino intends to continue his coaching career at a different high school. Sendai Ikuei's team has roughly thirty members. If any of the students express the wish to follow Seino and change high schools with him the school administration will respect their decision. With regard to the situation having come to the point of Seino leaving the school, Sendai Ikuei H.S. principal Takehiko Kato declined to be interviewed by the Kahoku Newspaper, saying that he is too busy with overseeing construction of the school's new Miyagino campus and other responsibilities.