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Weekend Track Roundup - World Leader for Mutunga in Hyogo

by Brett Larner

Four track meets featured noteworthy Japanese performances on the first truly busy weekend on the spring outdoor season calendar.

Cold rain and wind hit the biggest of the domestic meets, the Hyogo Relay Carnival.  In the Grand Prix 10000 m, Patrick Mutunga (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) continued his climb to the top of the Japanese circuit with a world-leading 27:40.44 to win over world-level medalists Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) and Martin Mathathi (Kenya/ Suzuki Hamamatsu AC).  Former 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) was the top Japanese man, 5th overall with the fastest time so far this year by a Japanese man, 28:16.79.  The year's leading Japanese marathoner, Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), was 12th in a decent 28:32.23 as he began working toward the Moscow World Championships.  His teammate Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) easily won the Grand Prix women's 10000 m in 32:00.02.  Runner-up Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) was far back in 32:32.15, like Ueno the fastest time so far this year by a Japanese athlete.

In the Asics Challenge Men's 10000 m A-heat, the selection race for Japan's 2013 World University Games 10000 m team, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) continued a season that saw him run an all-time Japanese #10 1:01:19 at February's Marugame Half Marathon and score a top-ten finish at last month's New York City Half Marathon by outsprinting Kenyan Enock Omwamba (Yamanshi Gakuin Univ.) for the win in 28:18.11, joining his Komazawa teammate Shogo Nakamura who will run the World University Games half marathon.  Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.), whose Fifth Stage win was instrumental to Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden title in January, ran a large PB for 3rd in 28:22.79 to take the second national team spot.  2012 World University Cross-Country Championships silver medalist Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) missed making the team as he finished 4th in 28:35.76.

In the B-heat, former Sozo Gakuen Univ. ace William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda) made his debut as Honda's replacement for 2011 world 10000 m champion Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia) who was dropped from Honda's roster this season.  Malel narrowly won the heat in 28:56.04 just a step ahead of Hideyuki Anzai (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and the newly-bar chain-sponsored Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza).  Former Bukkyo University star Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki), who has struggled after turning pro, won the Asics Challenge Women's 5000 m in a lukewarm 16:06.43.

Further north, the new Toshihiko Seko-led DeNA Running Club got its first laurel as team member Yuta Takahashi won the Tokyo Track and Field Championships 10000 m in 29:13.98 in cold and rain.  The Daiichi Seimei team used the women's 10000 m as an intramural time trial, with three of its runners making up the entire field and all three going sub-33, led by rookie Sayo Nomura in 32:41.42.

Across the water, three of Japan's best current male track runners tuned up for next weekend's Payton Jordan Invitational 10000 m at the Mt. SAC Relays 5000 m.  Last year's 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) led the way, 4th overall in 13:30.57.  #1-ranked Japanese collegiate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) was 11th in 13:35.73, one of the faster times of his career, while 2012's Japanese man of the year Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) was only 25th in 13:55.98.  Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), on the all-time Japanese top ten lists for both 10000 m and half marathon and likewise lining up at Stanford next weekend, opted for the Oregon Relays over Mt. SAC and duly won the 5000 m A-heat there in a conservative 13:56.95.

Back at Mt. SAC, three members of the Toyota Jidoshokki corporate women's team also ran the 5000 m, Aya Nagata taking the top Japanese position at 18th overall in 15:55.33. Other Japanese women and men also competed over shorter distances throughout the three-day meet.

Hyogo Relay Carnival
Universiade Memorial Stadium, Kobe, 4/20-21/13
click here for complete results

Grand Prix Men's 10000 m
1. Patrick Mutunga (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 27:40.44 - WL
2. Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 27:51.13
3. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:58.44
4. Patrick Muendo (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 27:59.15
5. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) - 28:16.79
6. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:23.95
7. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:24.26
8. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 28:24.54
9. Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 28:25.55
10. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:28.40
-----
12. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 28:32.23

Grand Prix Women's 10000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 32:00.02
2. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:32.15
3. Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 32:33.37
4. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:52.94
5. Mai Tsuda (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:54.25
6. Eri Makikawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 33:05.00
7. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 33:05.90
8. Nanaka Izawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 33:08.04
9. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Kyocera) - 33:09.12
10. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 33:13.08
-----
Ai Furukubo (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - DNF

Asics Challenge Men's 10000 m Heat 1 - World University Games selection race
1. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:18.11
2. Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:20.07
3. Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) - 28:22.79 - PB
4. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:35.76
5. Yuki Arimura (Meiji Univ.) - 28:41.09 - PB
6. Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:44.16
7. Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji Univ.) - 28:50.93
8. Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) - 28:53.64
9. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:53.87
10. Kaido Kita (Meiji Univ.) - 28:58.25

Asics Challenge Men's 10000 m Heat 2
1. William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda) - 28:56.04
2. Hideyuki Anzai (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:56.55
3. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza) - 28:56.97
4. Kensuke Gotoda (DeNA RC) - 28:57.45
5. Takahiro Aso (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 28:58.19

Women's Asics Challenge 5000 m
1. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 16:06.43
2. Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:08.66
3. Shoko Sonoda (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:10.94
4. Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) - 16:14.11
5. Sayuri Sendo (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:14.65

Tokyo Track and Field Championships
National Stadium, Tokyo, 4/20-21/13
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m
1. Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) - 29:13.98
2. Yuki Munakata (Team Kanebo) - 29:14.56
3. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 29:16.44
4. Yu Aoki (Team Kanebo) - 29:19.53
5. Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 29:32.75

Women's 10000 m
1. Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:41.42
2. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:44.44
3. Yuka Inami (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:45.60

Mt. SAC Relays
Walnut, California, 4/18-20/13
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Inv. Elite
1. Will Leer (Nike) - 13:21.55
2. Rory Fraser (unattached) - 13:24.07
3. Byron Piedra (Ecuador) - 13:28.81
4. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:30.57
5. Ben Bruce (Adidas) - 13:30.79
-----
11. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 13:35.73
25. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:55.98

Women's 5000 m Inv. Elite
1. Abbey D'Agostino (Dartmouth Coll.) - 15:11.35
2. Lucy Van Dalen (New Zealand) - 15:21.08
3. Mary Cullen (Ireland) - 15:23.12
4. Neely Spence (Brooks Hansons) - 15:26.51
5. Marisol Guadalupe Romero (Mexico) - 15:29.51
-----
18. Aya Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:55.33
29. Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:21.29
30. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:22.63

Women's 1500 m Olympic Dev.
1. Cristina Guadalupe Gueva (Mexico) - 4:16.94
2. Carly Hamilton (Georgia) - 4:17.21
3. Alycia Cridebring (UC Davis) - 4:21.14
-----
6. Risa Yokoe (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 4:27.70

Women's 800 m Open Heat 1
1. Ejiroghene Okoro (Iowa State) - 2:05:20
2. Dominique Jackson (SRA) - 2:06.06
3. Kelsey Brown (BYU) - 2:06.53
-----
6. Chihiro Sunaga (Team Shiseido) - 2:07.03

Oregon Relays
Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon, 4/19-20/13
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m McChesney Jr.
1. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:56.95
2. Ben Blankenship (OTC) - 13:57.35
3. Greg Montgomery (College of Idaho) - 14:11.70
4. Matthew Tebo (Boulder TC) - 14:27.17
5. Matt Jablonski (Oregon) - 14:30.25

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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