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Toyokawa H.S. Sweeps Nihonkai Ekiden In First Full Race With Sendai Ikuei H.S. Imports

by Brett Larner

Bolstered by an injection of seven transferring boys and three girls from Sendai Ikuei H.S. to its already champion-level ekiden teams, Toyokawa H.S. got the high school ekiden season off with a bang with wins in the both boys' and girls' races at the Nihonkai Ekiden in Kurayoshi on Sept. 30.  As Toyokawa's first major race with its full complement of transferred talent following a post-transfer suspension, the results spoke for themselves.  Toyokawa's boys started off in the lead, but after falling seven seconds behind rival Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. on the 3 km Second Stage, transfer student Tadashi Isshiki, the anchor stage winner for Sendai Ikuei at last year's National High School Ekiden Championships, got Toyokawa back into the lead by three seconds on the 8.1075 km Third Stage.  Kenyan ringer Jeremiah Karemi widened the lead by over a minute, and despite lukewarm runs on the remaining three stages Toyokawa won easily over Nishiwaki Kogyo, 2:04:08 to 2:04:46.  Defending national champion Sera H.S. was 3rd in 2:05:34.

Toyokawa's girls' team was already the defending national champion, and with three imports from national 3rd-place Sendai Ikuei only added to that strengh.  Ahead by one second at the end of the 6 km First Stage thanks to a quality opening run by Hanami Sekine, Toyokawa's lead was only two seconds by the end of the Second Stage as the field turned over behind them.  Third Stage runner Nanako Kajiya ran the second-best time on her leg but was overtaken ace Sakurako Yamoto of 2011 national runner-up Kojokan H.S.  It looked as though a close race may have been in store, but Toyokawa's final two runners Kanae Kamizono and Reia Iwade were superlative as they won their stages, giving their team a final margin of victory of 54 seconds as Toyokawa crossed the line in 1:07:40.  Kojokan struggled, falling prey to last year's national 5th-place Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and the lesser-heralded Kamimura Gakuen H.S., finishing 4th in 1:08:51.

Toyokawa's double win in its first full-strength race has resonant implications for the rest of ekiden season.  A rare double victory at December's National High School Ekiden Championships does not look out of range at this stage.

32nd Nihonkai Ekiden
Kurayoshi, 9/30/12
seven stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Toyokawa H.S. A - 2:04:08
2. Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. A - 2:04:46
3. Sera H.S. A - 2:05:34
4. Omuta H.S. - 2:07:28
5. Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. - 2:07:28
6. Fujisawa Shoryo H.S. - 2:07:55
7. Suma Gakuen H.S. A - 2:07:56
8. Iga Hakuoh H.S. A - 2:08:04
9. Saikyo H.S. - 2:08:16
10. Kashiwa Nittai Prep H.S. - 2:08:16

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (10 km) - Hattori (Toyokawa H.S. A) - 29:35
Second Stage (3 km) - Nakatani (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. A) - 8:37
Third Stage (8.1075 km) - Isshiki (Toyokawa H.S. A) - 23:54
Fourth Stage (8.0875 km) - Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S. A) - 22:56
Fifth Stage (3 km) - Isoguchi (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. A) - 8:43
Sixth Stage (5 km) - Murakami (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. A) - 14:40
Seventh Stage (5 km) - Maeno (Suma Gakuen H.S. A) - 14:52

27th Kurayoshi Women's Ekiden
Kurayoshi, 9/30/12
five stages, 21.0975 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Performances
1. Toyokawa H.S. A - 1:07:40
2. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. A - 1:08:34
3. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:08:38
4. Kojokan H.S. A - 1:08:51
5. Osaka Kunei Joshi H.S. A - 1:09:18
6. Hakuho Joshi H.S. - 1:09:38
7. Tottori Ikuei H.S. A - 1:10:16
8. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. B - 1:10:32
9. Isahaya H.S. - 1:10:46
10. Okazaki Gakuen H.S. - 1:10:49

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6 km) - Sekine (Toyokawa H.S. A) - 18:48
Second Stage (4.0975 km) - Pauline (Sera H.S.) - 12:37
Third Stage (3 km) - Yamoto (Kojokan H.S. A) - 9:41
Fourth Stage (3 km) - Kamizono (Toyokawa H.S. A) - 10:02
Fifth Stage (5 km) - Iwade (Toyokawa H.S. A) - 16:02

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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