Skip to main content

Toyokawa Boys Win National High School Ekiden Debut in All-Time #4 2:02:55

by Brett Larner

Toyokawa H.S. wins the 2012 National High School Boys Ekiden title in 2:02:55, the all-time #4 time. Click photo for video highlights courtesy of broadcaster NHK.

#1-ranked Toyokawa H.S. blew apart the 2012 National High School Boys Ekiden Championships in its national debut, taking the lead on the third stage and never looking back.  With Third Stage runner Jeremiah Karemi missing the great Samuel Wanjiru's stage record of 22:40 by just 7 seconds and star members of Wanjiru's alma mater Sendai Ikuei H.S. having transferred to Toyokawa in the spring the team took the national title in 2:02:55, the fourth-fastest time in Nationals history and the first time in 50 years that a school won in its first appearance.  #2 seed Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. presented no challenge, down by more than two minutes before rallying for 2nd in a quality 2:04:46.  #4-ranked Iga Hakuho H.S. anchor Takumi Kawato ran down defending champion Sera H.S. on the anchor stage before winning out in a thrilling sprint finish against Kurashiki H.S. anchor Kosei Nagahama for 3rd.

With their head coach Hideji Machino having passed away over the summer and the team dedicating its race to his memory Iga Hakuho's Yusuke Nishiyama provided one of the highlights of the day on the race's most competitive stage, the 10.0 km First Stage.  In a tense series of turnovers between most of the country's best high school runners, Nishiyama went head-to-head with Toyokawa's sub-14 ace Hazuma Hattori in the final 500 m.  Surprisingly, it was Nishiyama who pulled ahead to win the stage by one second in 29:38.  Second Stage runner Shunya Kuroyanagi was even more surprising, opening another 7 seconds on Toyokawa, but on the third stage despite a solid performance there was nothing Iga Hakuho's Masatoshi Sakata could do to hold off Karemi or Sera's John Gathaiya and the team fell to 3rd.

Karemi started strong and at halfway through the 8.1075 km stage was 10 seconds off Wanjiru's record.    Where Sera grads Charles Ndirangu and Bitan Karoki had missed Wanjiru's record by 1 and 8 seconds after starting fast and fading, Karemi continued to push harder through the hilly second half, outdoing Wanjiru's second half split by 3 seconds.  In a post-race interview he said in Japanese that he hadn't felt right when he started and couldn't run 100% for the first two kilometers, regretting that he had missed the record by 7 seconds as a result but confident that he had done what he needed to do for Toyokawa to take the win.

Toyokawa's Tadashi Isshiki, one of its Sendai Ikuei transferees, opened the 8.0875 km Fourth Stage with a 2:35 km before calming down, running a stage best to remove any doubt of the team's win.  Behind him Nishiwaki Kogyo took over the second position where it remained for the rest of the race.  Four different teams occupied 3rd over the turbulent and exciting final four stages before Iga Hakuho claimed the position, anchor Kawato smiling in triumph after winning the sprint finish against Kurashiki's Nagahama and the honoring of his coach's memory.  Defending champion Sera was 5th, while Hakuoh Prep Ashikaga H.S. came on strong late in the race to finish 6th, its first time ever making the podium.  Unheralded Kobayashi H.S. and Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S. came on late in the race to round out the eight-deep podium as Oita Tomei H.S., looking like a lock for 8th with a kilometer to go, fell to 11th.

Like the girls' race, overall it was a fast and deep edition of Nationals with seven teams breaking 2:06 and fourteen under 2:07.  To give an idea what that means in terms of the quality of these high school teams, winner Toyokawa's average 7-man 5000 m best is 14:11.43 and runner-up Nishiwaki Kogyo's is 14:12.54. NCAA DI XC 3rd-place University of Colorado's 7-man average is 14:12.56. All of the top ten-placing high schools except Kobayashi and 9th-place Tosu Kogyo H.S. have faster 7-man averages than NCAA 4th-place Northern Arizona University.  The best individuals will next meet up on their home prefectures' teams at the Jan. 20 National Men's Ekiden, always the place where graduating seniors make their biggest statements before heading on to college and Hakone.

2012 National High School Boys Ekiden Championships
Kyoto, 12/23/12
47 teams, 7 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (10.0 km) - Yusuke Nishiyama (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 29:38
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Hideaki Ishii (Fujisawa Shoyo H.S.) - 8:17
Third Stage (8.1075 km) - Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 22:47
Fourth Stage (8.0875 km) - Tadashi Isshiki (Toyokawa H.S.) - 23:21
Fifth Stage (3.0 km) - Taisuke Hirose (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 8:38
Sixth Stage (5.0 km) - Kenta Yaguchi (Hakuoh Prep Ashikaga H.S.) - 14:52
Seventh Stage 5.0 km) - Rei Nishiyama (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 14:29

Top Teams
1. Toyokawa H.S. (Aichi) - 2:02:55
2. Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. (Hyogo) - 2:04:46
3. Iga Hakuho H.S. (Mie) - 2:05:33
4. Kurashiki H.S. (Okayama) - 2:05:33
5. Sera H.S. (Hiroshima) - 2:05:53
6. Hakuoh Prep Ashikaga H.S. (Tochigi) - 2:05:54
7. Kobayashi H.S. (Miyazaki) - 2:05:54
8. Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S. (Yamanashi) - 2:06:07
9. Tosu Kogyo H.S. (Saga) - 2:06:22
10. Saku Chosei H.S. (Nagano) - 2:06:24

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Brett Larner said…
Thanks to Bruce Carrick for pointing out the quality of Japanese H.S. teams relative to NCAA university teams back in January.

Most-Read This Week

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…

Tanaka and Hashioka Win Gold - World U20 Championships Day Two Japanese Results

Working together to execute an aggressive frontrunning team strategy born from failure two years ago in Bydgoszcz, 2018 Asian U20 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka and 2018 Asian Junior Cross Country gold medalist Yuna Wada opened a massive lead over the African Junior Cross Country medalist Ethiopian duo of Meselu Berhe and Tsige Gebreselama in the early going of the Tampere World U20 Championships women's 3000 m. Tanaka took the lead from the gun before Wada went out front at 200 m to set a fast pace. Through splits of 3:00 and 3:03 for the first 2000 m, Tanaka kicked hard from 300 m out to close with a 2:51 for Japan's first-ever gold medal in the event, winning in a PB of 8:54.01.

Berhe and Gebreselama caught Wada on the back corner but weren't even close to matching Tanaka, taking 2nd and 3rd in PBs just under the 9-minute mark. Wada just held off Kenyan Jenali Jemutai Yego for 4th in 9:00.50, seeming happy in post-race interviews to have helped a teammate score gol…

Kamulu Runs 10000 m World Lead, Ahn Breaks Korean National Record, Tamura Clears 28 Minutes, Niiya Back on Track in Fukagawa

National records fell for the third meet in a row in the four-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series Wednesday in Fukagawa, Hokkaido. Longtime Japan resident Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) had a shockingly good run in the women's 10000 m A-heat, following up her 1:06:56 bronze medal run at the Valencia World Half Marathon Championships by lopping over a minute off her 10000 m best with a 2018 world-leading time of 30:41.85.

Kamulu lapped the entire field, her nearest competitor Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) returning from a 2:23:46 marathon PB in Osaka in January to take 30 seconds off her own best in 32:13.87. Further back, Seul Ki Ahn broke the South Korean national record set 13 years ago in Fukagawa with a new mark of 32:33.61. Ahn's NR followed the 2:25:41 NR set by Do Yeon Kim at the Seoul International Marathon in March, a miniature renaissance in South Korea women's distance running.

The men's 10000 m A-heat was also decently fast, Andrew Lorot (Subaru) leading fo…