translated and edited by Brett Larner
The 23rd National Junior High School Ekiden Championships took place Dec. 13 at the Seminar Park Cross Country Course in Yamaguchi. 48 boys' and girls' teams competed, the prefectural champion school from each of Japan's 47 prefectures plus a second team from hosts Yamaguchi prefecture.
Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S. of Gunma prefecture scored its first-ever win in the six-stage, 18.0 km boys' race in 56:37, beating rivals Ohtawara J.H.S. of Tochigi prefecture by 15 seconds. Following Nakanojo J.H.S. in 1998 and 2000 and Yoshioka J.H.S. in 2009 Maebashi Fujimi became just the fourth school from Gunma to win the national title. Captain Daiki Arai, 3rd year, said, "I'm so happy it's like a dream. In long distance running it's really easy to get anemia, so our parents have really done a lot to support us with healthy meals with a good balance of meat and vegetables. Thank you to all of them."
Following their win Maebashi City Hall hung a banner on its outside walls announcing the team's victory, and mayor Ryu Yamamoto was waiting at the ticket gates at Maebashi Station to greet the team and offer his personal congratulations upon the team's return on the 14th.
Kyoto's Katsura J.H.S. won the five-stage, 12.0 km girls' race in a course-record 40:08 by a margin of 38 seconds. The Maebashi Fujimi girls were 3rd in 40:58. Captain Emiho Ii, 3rd year, commented, "We were able to come this far thanks to the local people and our families. As each of us on the team takes our own path I hope that we will all continue to give all our ability as we walk forward to meet our own separate futures."
Next year the National Junior High School Ekiden Championships will move to Kibogaoka Bunka Park in Shiga prefecture.
23rd National Junior High School Ekiden Championships
Seminar Park Cross Country Course, Yamaguchi, 12/13/15
48 teams, boys: 6 stages, 18.0 km, girls: 5 stages, 12.0 km
click here for complete results
Top Boys Team Results
1. Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S. (Gunma) - 56:37
2. Ohtwara J.H.S. (Tochigi) - 56:52
3. Kamagaya Daigo J.H.S. (Chiba) - 57:25
4. Niihama Nishi J.H.S. (Aichi) - 57:34
5. Miyahara J.H.S. (Saitama) - 57:36
Boys Stage Best Performances
First Stage (3.0 km) - Rintaro Kajiyama (3rd yr., Saka J.H.S.) - 9:13
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Ryusei Harada (3rd yr., Miyahara J.H.S.) - 9:14
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Hideto Kitawaki (3rd yr., Tottori Minami J.H.S.) - 9:06
Fourth Stage (3.0 km) - Daiki Arai (3rd yr., Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S.) - 9:00
Fifth Stage (3.0 km) - Keiji Takezoe (2nd yr., Saka J.H.S.) - 9:32
Sixth Stage (3.0 km) - Soshi Suzuki (3rd yr., Hamamatsu Nittai Prep J.H.S.) - 9:04 - CR
Top Girls Team Results
1. Katsura J.H.S. (Kyoto) - 40:08 - CR
2. Tsubata Minami J.H.S. (Ishikawa) - 40:46
3. Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S. (Gunma) - 40:58
4. Shimizu J.H.S. (Shizuoka) - 41:14
5. Hofu Kokufu J.H.S. (Yamaguchi) - 41:29
Girls Stage Best Performances
First Stage (3.0 km) - Aika Nishihara (2nd yr., Niihama Nishi J.H.S.) - 9:47 - CR
Second Stage (2.0 km) - Mayu Hirata (3rd yr., Katsura J.H.S.) - 6:31
Third Stage (2.0 km) - Mahiru Kobayashi (1st yr., Katsura J.H.S.) - 6:41
Fourth Stage (2.0 km) - Sara Yamada (1st yr., Ohtawara J.H.S.) - 6:43
Fifth Stage (3.0 km) - Nonoka Sone (2nd yr., Katsura J.H.S.) - 10:07 - CR