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Ndiku Over Murayama, Shoji Outkicks Lacaze at Fukuoka XC

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujoulove

Japan's two-race cross-country season wrapped up Saturday with the 29th Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, the last chance for Japanese athletes to make this year's World Cross-Country Championships team.  Two-time world junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) easily beat #1-ranked collegiate Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) in the senior men's 10 km, surging on a corner mid-race to break free and win by a margin of 9 seconds in 29:22.  Murayama, in his last race wearing the Komazawa uniform, dueled with New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage course record setter Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) before kicking away for 2nd in 29:31, Shitara 4 seconds behind.

Corporate runner Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) outkicked 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Koki Takada (Waseda Univ) for 4th in 29:36, with 2013 Ageo winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) closing fast but coming up short of catching his high school teammate Takada, 2 seconds back in 29:42 for 6th.  Murayama, Shitara and Ichida have all run the United Airlines NYC Half in conjunction with Ageo and support from JRN, with Takada set to join them and Ichida returning to NYC in 3 weeks.  Further back, Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), one of Japan's all-time greats on the track but unable to translate it to success on the roads, finished 30th in his final race before retiring.

Both the senior women's 6 km and the junior women's 6 km came down to head-to-head races.  In the senior race Australia's Genevieve Lacaze pushed the tempo against Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) and Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren), shaking free of Shimizu but unable to get rid of Shoji.  Side-by-side until the final straight, Shoji proved to have the stronger kick as she took the win in 19:54 by 2 seconds over Lacaze.  Shimizu hung on for 3rd in 20:02, well clear of a chase pack led by Chiba XC runner-up Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) who took 4th in 20:11.

The junior race put the seniors to shame as Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) hammered Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) on the string of hills midway through the final lap to pull free to the win in 19:50, beating Shimizu's winning time in the senior race by 4 seconds.  Shimada likewise bettered Lacaze's time, running 19:54 for 2nd.  Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) outran a chase pack including Chiba XC junior top 2 Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) and Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) for 3rd in 20:04.

The junior men's 8 km may have been the race of the day, with constant turnover at the front as many of the country's best high schoolers surged repeatedly to try to take control.  Almost all the favorites except 2014 World Juniors team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) were soon out of the lead pack, which shook down to five.  Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) managed to get control of the situation, but with a hard attack from Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) it went down to the tape, both clocking 24:12 but Sakaguchi getting the win.  Onizuka took 3rd, he and the rest of the front group timed at 24:14.

Haruki Nishiumura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.), another top-level high schooler, opted for the junior men's 4 km where he outran two members of 2014 National High School Ekiden champion Sera H.S. for the win in 12:29.  Ami Yoshiki (Nakamura Joshi H.S.) won the relatively low-key junior women's 4 km in 13:55.

29th Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet
Fukuoka, 2/21/15
click here for complete results

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 29:22
2. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:31
3. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 29:35
4. Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) - 29:36
5. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 29:40
6. Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:42
7. Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:45
8. Tatsuya Hayashi (Team Toyota) - 29:50
9. Naohiro Domoto (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 29:55
10. Kazuhiro Kuga (Team Fujitsu) - 29:59

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 19:54
2. Genevieve Lacaze (Australia) - 19:56
3. Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 20:02
4. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 20:11
5. Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 20:14
6. Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 20:14
7. Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 20:16
8. Rina Koeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 20:17
9. Naoko Koizumi (Team Denso) - 20:20
10. Kaori Morita (Team Panasonic) - 20:32

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 24:12
2. Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 24:12
3. Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 24:14
4. Kohei Nanba (Senshu Prep Matsudo H.S.) - 24:14
5. Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 24:14
6. Hiroki Miura (Tohoku H.S.) - 24:17
7. Tomoki Ota (Hamamatsu Nittai Prep H.S.) - 24:21
8. Tomoya Morita (Higashi Harima H.S.) - 24:22
9. Reiri Nakashima (Kurashiki H.S.) - 24:25
10. Kenshi Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 24:25

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 19:50
2. Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 19:54
3. Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 20:04
4. Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 20:05
5. Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 20:08
6. Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 20:08
7. Yuka Mukai (Sera H.S.) - 20:11
8. Yumika Miura (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 20:17
9. Reina Shinozaki (Tokiwa H.S.) - 20:30
10. Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 20:34

Junior Men's 4 km
1. Haruki Nishiumura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 12:29
2. Hiroki Horiuchi (Sera H.S.) - 12:31
3. Naoki Nagareda (Sera H.S.) - 12:36
4. Masahiro Kamidoi (Junshin H.S) - 12:37
5. Chiaki Iwahara (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 12:41

Junior Women's 4 km
1. Ami Yoshiki (Nakamura Joshi H.S.) - 13:55
2. Mei Kawazi (Shonan H.S.) - 13:57
3. Minami Sato (Junten H.S.) - 13:59
4. Amiru Akiyama (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 14:09
5. Momoko Watanabe (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 14:14

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2015 M. Kawaguchi, all rights reserved

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