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Chuo Gakuin Wins National University Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier

by Brett Larner
video by naoki620

Saturday saw the first event on the university men's ekiden circuit with regional qualifier action for November's National University Men's Ekiden.  Universities across the country that finished outside the seeded top six at last November's Nationals competed on the track in their regions, eight runners from each school split into four heats and their team score determined by the combined times of all eight.

The biggest event, needless to say, was in the Tokyo-area Kanto Region, home of the Hakone Ekiden, where twenty schools competed for nine places at Nationals.  Led by senior Hironori Tsuetaki, the double 5000 m and 10000 m D2 champ at last month's Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships, Chiba's Chuo Gakuin University came out on top as the only school to clear 3:59, its eight runners totalling 3:58.58.68.  Tsuetaki, on the entry list for both 3000 mSC and 5000 m at next weekend's National Track and Field Championships, went head-to-head with Kanto Regionals D1 Half Marathon champion Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Nihon Univ.) in the fourth heat, following Muiva's opening 2:45 km and staying on sub-28 pace through 4000 m to burn off all competition.

After a 14:04 split at halfway, well ahead of Tsuetaki's two month-old PB of 28:36.61, Muiva slowed slightly, and after two 2:51 splits in a row Tsuetaki went past the Kenyan to take the lead.  Muiva tried to retake the front position but Tsuetaki surged and refused to let him go by until another move from Muiva around 8000 m proved too much.  Tsuetaki dropped over 40 m behind, but with the same kick that won him both Kanto titles he closed back to within 3 seconds of Muiva, who took the win in 28:28.64 and led Nihon University into a 2nd-place finish behind Chuo Gakuin.  Tsuetaki's 28:31.84 for 2nd was a PB by 5 seconds.



Last year's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier winner Kanagawa University took 3rd overall with two runners in the top five in both heats three and four.  Pre-race favorite Waseda University led team scoring in the early heats, but in the fourth heat its star senior Koki Takada, the 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon winner and with a 28:49.59 best, struggled over the second half, finishing 28th in 29:52.48 after running with Muiva and Tsuetaki through 3000 m.  Waseda finished 4th in 3:59:40.00, less than 42 seconds behind winner Chuo Gakuin.  A run more up to Takada's potential and things might have been different.  Tiny Koku Gakuin University took the final qualifying position at 9th in 4:01:34.76, 10th-placer Hosei University sent home disappointed after scoring 4:01:55.43.

Regional qualifying races also happened in the Osaka-area Kansai Region and Fukuoka-area Kyushu Region.  In Kansai, Ritsumeikan University led the four qualifying schools in 4:04:17.19 thanks in part to a fourth heat win by senior Shu Hamano, who unexpectedly beat Kansai Region collegiate half marathon record holder Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) in 29:32.14.  Perennial Kyushu Region winner Daiichi Kogyo University took the lone Kyushu qualifying spot again in 4:12:39.84, with Kenyan John Kariuki winning the fastest heat by over a minute in 29:56.32.  As an indication of the Kanto Region's stranglehold on top talent, Ritsumeikan would have finished 17th among the twenty schools in the Kanto qualifier, while Daiichi Kogyo would have been almost 4 minutes behind last-place Kanto team Asia University.  Both Kansai and Kyushu will also send select teams to Nationals made up of top-placing finishers like Hirai whose schools did not make the team qualifying brackets in their regions. 

47th National University Men's Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier
Keio University, Hiyoshi, Kanagawa, 6/20/15
click here for complete results

Team Results - sum of each school's 8 runners; top 9 schools qualify
1. Chuo Gakuin Univ. - 3:58:58.68
2. Nihon Univ. - 3:59:19.28
3. Kanagawa Univ - 3:59:23.36
4. Waseda Univ. - 3:59:40.00
5. Teikyo Univ. - 3:59:50.69
6. Juntendo Univ. - 4:00:15.14
7. Nittai Univ. - 4:00:33.17
8. Daito Bunka Univ. - 4:01:15.07
9. Koku Gakuin Univ. - 4:01:34.76
-----
10. Hosei Univ. - 4:01:55.43
11. Jobu Univ. - 4:02:08.30
12. Senshu Univ. - 4:02:44.55

Heat Four
1. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 28:28.64
2. Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 28:31.84 - PB
3. Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:05.71
4. Ryohei Nishiyama (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:06.24
5. Kengo Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:09.04 - PB
6. Yuta Takahashi (Teikyo Univ.) - 29:09.76 - PB
7. Shinnosuke Ogino (Nihon Univ.) - 29:19.45
8. Koki Ido (Waseda Univ.) - 29:20.24
9. Sho Tokunaga (Chuo Univ.) - 29:20.40
10. Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:21.08
-----
13. Workneh Derese (Ethiopia/Takushoku Univ.) - 29:23.91
28. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 29:52.48

Heat Three
1. Kazuma Ganaha (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:38.35
2. Soma Ishikawa (Nihon Univ.) - 29:39.19
3. Stanley Siteki (Kenya/Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 29:39.42
4. Kazuma Kitamura (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:41.30
5. Atsushi Yamato (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:43.02 - PB

Heat Two
1. Takumi Komatsu (Nittai Univ.) - 30:00.21
2. Yuta Hamano (Senshu Univ.) - 30:01.69
3. Hiroya Inoue (Jobu Univ.) - 30:02.71
4. Hiroki Nagayama (Waseda Univ.) - 30:03.08 - debut
5. Shoatsu Kakimoto (Nittai Univ.) - 30:04.52

Heat One
1. Toshiyuki Yanagi (Waseda Univ.) - 29:56.51
2. Daiki Hatanaka (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 29:59.02
3. Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) - 30:06.57 - debut
4. Kazuya Isoda (Hosei Univ.) - 30:07.07 - PB
5. Yuki Murakami (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 30:11.31


47th National University Men's Ekiden Kansai Region Qualifier
Nishikyogoku Field, Kyoto, 6/20/15
click here for complete results

Team Results - sum of each school's 8 runners; top 4 schools qualify
1. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 4:04:17.19
2. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 4:05:07.76
3. Kwansei Gakuin Univ. - 4:06:01.12
4. Kansai Univ. - 4:08:48.55
-----
5. Kyoto Univ. - 4:08:53.22

Heat Four
1. Shu Hamano (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 29:32.14
2. Ryusei Takahashi (Osaka Keizai Univ.) - 29:34.83
3. Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) - 29:37.91
4. Ken Nakanishi (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 30:01.95
5. Ryo Inagaki (Kansai Univ.) - 30:08.68

Heat Three
1. Masatoshi Teranishi (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 30:34.09
2. Masato Doi (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 30:35.39
3. Hikari Hondo (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 30:39.61

Heat Two
1. Naoki Fujiwara (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 30:28.22
2. Naoto Nakanouchi (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 3:28.70
3. Daisuke Hiramatsu (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 30:44.59

Heat One
1. Kota Tamura (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 31:41.14
2. Kosuke Tsujimura (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 31:42.17
3. Hiroki Yoshioka (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 31:42.86


47th National University Men's Ekiden Kyushu Region Qualifier
Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, 6/20/15
click here for complete results

Team Results - sum of each school's 8 runners; top school qualifies
1. Daiichi Kogyo Univ. - 4:12:39.84
-----
2. Nippon Bunri Univ. - 4:13:48.77
3. Shiga Kukan Univ. - 4:19:46.44

Heat Three
1. John Kariuki (Kenya/Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 29:56.32
2. Keisuke Saito (Kyushu Univ.) - 31:12.40
3. Hiromu Kitamura (Nippon Bunri Univ.) - 31:13.70

Heat Two
1. Takuto Miyakuni (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 31:36.62
2. Kota Miyamoto (Nippon Bunri Univ.) - 31:41.13
3. Kaito Beppu (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 31:56.81

Heat One
1. Chikara Ono (Nippon Bunri Univ.) - 32:13.04
2. Tomohiro Nagai (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 32:13.37
3. Yuto Miyazaki (Nippon Bunri Univ.) - 32:16.02

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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