translated by Brett Larner
Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa High School boys and girls teams to a combined five National High School Ekiden titles, head coach Yasuhiko Mori, 52, held a press conference on Mar. 27 at Toyokawa City Hall to announce that he is retiring both as head coach and from the school at the end of march. He declined to give specific comment on his future plans, but with regard to the corporate leagues and the like he commented, "I want to go to the next level."
In December the Toyokawa girls won a fourth national title at the National High School Ekiden Championships, the most wins ever by a single school. After that, said Mori, "I thought about a lot of different things." In January he told the school, "I'm finished with high school ekidens," informing them of his intent to retire.
Mori became head coach of the Toyokawa girls in 2006, and in his third year there the team won the 2008 national title. In 2012 he became head coach of the boys' team as well. In their first time qualifying for the National High School Ekiden the Toyokawa boys likewise won.
Mori's successor will be Hiroki Fukayama, 48, a longtime junior high school coach whose achievements include leading Saitama prefecture's Sumiyoshi J.H.S. boys to the 2003 National Junior High School Ekiden title.
Translator's note: Mori's most notable protégées included Asami Kato and Nanaka Izawa. In 2012 Toyokawa picked up ten athletes from powerhouse Sendai Ikuei H.S. who left the school in the wake of the 2011 disasters and a subsequent battle between its young head coach Junichi Seino and school administration officials dissatisfied with his performance. Many of the boys on Toyokawa's 2012 national champion team came from the Sendai Ikuei group including stars Hazuma Hattori and Tadashi Isshiki, both now making a major impact on the university circuit.