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Yokoe and Shitara Drop Year-Leading Japanese Times and a Big Debut From 18-Year-Old Munehisa at Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet

by Brett Larner

The third installment in Japan's midsummer Hokuren Distance Challenge time trials series took place July 11 in Abashiri, Hokkaido, the last day for athletes to turn in qualifying times for next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  With the long distance squads already mostly set the only events with people seriously contending for Rio were the women's 3000 m steeplechase and men's 800 m, where National Championships runners-up Chikako Mori (Team Sekisui Kagaku) and Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) tried a final time to get under the 9:45.00 and 1:46.00 standards.  Both came up well short, Mori running 10:00.23 to win the steeple and Yokota just 1:49.28 for 4th in the 800 m.

Which is not to say that the day was slow overall.  With ideal conditions the distance events were fast across the board, and in both the women's 5000 m and men's 10000 m there were new year-leading Japanese marks.  Risa Yokoe (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) won the women's 5000 m in a 15-second PB of 15:18.11, surpassing the 15:19.37 year-leading mark that Rio team member Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) ran to win the National Championships last month.  Seven of the top ten ran PBs, including a 15:33.08 from 18-year-old rookie pro Harumi Okamoto (Team Sekisui Kagaku), best known for a 9:00.91 3000 m at age 16, and a 15:44.32 from 16-year-old high schooler Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.).

In the men's 10000 m, Ethiopian Abiyot Abinet (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) led three Japanese men under 28 minutes, two for the first time.  After a slow opening 2000 m the pacing was perfect, gradually ratcheting up and pulling Rio 10000 m squad member Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) to a 27:48.35 that replaced national champion Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) at the top of the Japanese charts.  4th at Nationals, Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) cleared the Rio standard at the last moment possible, running exactly even pace all the way from 2000 m to the finish for his first 27-minute clocking in 27:53.59.  Off the pace around 8000 m, Mitsunori Asaoka (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) kicked hard in the home straight to just crack 28 for the first time, taking 4th in 27:59.72.  Shin Inoura (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) led the B-heat with a 30-second PB of 28:14.20, followed closely by 2016 Aoyama Gakuin University graduates Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta) and Yusuke Ogura (Team Yakult), both of whom cleared 28:20 for the first time.

The women's 10000 m was another fast race with four Japanese women clearing 32 minutes, three in PBs and one in her debut.  6th at Nationals two weeks ago in a then-PB 32:10.96, 20-year-old Hisami Ishii (Team Yamada Denki) frontran the entire race alone to win in a new PB of 31:48.21.  Moeno Nakamura (Team Univ. Ent.) led the chase pack, chopping two and a half minutes off her best for 2nd in 31:57.92.  In what may have been the performance of the day, 18-year-old Yuki Munehisa, a first-year at Tokyo Nogyo University making her 10000 m debut, ran 31:58.46 for 3rd, the second-fastest U-20 time worldwide this year, #4 all-tme Japanese collegiate and all-time #6 among Japanese U-20 women.  Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) rounded out the sub-32 quartet in 31:58.71, with her teammate Mao Kiyota next in 32:05.05, her first quality performance since a 2:24:32 marathon debut in Nagoya in March.  Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), 2:24:38 in Nagoya, and Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki), 2:25:29 in Nagoya, also made decent comebacks, both going under 32:30.

Teressa Nyakora (Team Mazda) led an Ethiopian trio at the front of the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:33.13.  Kazuma Taira (Waseda Univ.) was the top Japanese man at 5th in a PB of 13:38.64.  More quality collegiate performances came in the B-heat, where Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Meiji Univ.) won in a PB of 13:46.73.  Three Tokai University first-years, Ryoji Tatezawa, Takuya Hanyu and Yuichiro Nishikawa, also broke 14, Tatezawa and Nishikawa for the first time.  Combined with the results of Saturday's Setagaya Time Trials Meet in Tokyo, six of Tokai's eight main first-years broke 14 within 48 hours, all but one for the first time.  In two years they may well have an unbeatable team at the Hakone Ekiden.

Chuo University, which last week announced that its own first-years Shoma Funatsu and Kazuyoshi Tamogami had been named captain and vice-captain, also got in on the action, with Funatsu winning the 5000 m D-heat in a PB 13:58.16 and Tamogami running a PB 3:44.85 for 4th in the 1500 m A-heat, all-time #8 for U-20 Japanese men.  5000 m/10000 m man Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) won the 1500 m in a PB of 3:41.74, but his mark is likely to be overshadowed at the final Hokuren Distance Challenge meet Thursday in Abashiri where the Alberto Salazar-powered multiple national record holder Osako is entered in the 1500 m.  If he runs expect him to go home with one more record on his resume.

Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet
Abashiri, Hokkaido, 7/11/16
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Hisami Ishii (Yamada Denki) - 31:48.21 - PB
2. Moeno Nakamura (Universal Entertainment) - 31:57.92 - PB
3. Yuki Munehisa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 31:58.46 - debut
4. Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 31:58.71 - PB
5. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 32:05.05
6. Ai Inoue (Noritz) - 32:07.56
7. Risa Kikuchi (Hitachi) - 32:21.20 - PB
8. Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki) - 32:22.25
9. Natsuko Goto (Universal Entertainment) - 32:23.85 - PB
10. Ai Hosoda (Nittai Univ.) - 32:26.99 - PB

Men's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Abiyot Abinet (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:45.04 - debut
2. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 27:48.35
3. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 27:53.59 - PB
4. Mitsunori Asaoka (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 27:59.72 - PB
5. Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 28:01.35
6. Simon Kariuki (Kenya/Nihon Yakka Univ.) - 28:03.65 - PB
7. Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Toyota) - 28:06.92
8. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) - 28:07.53
9. Minato Oishi (Toyota) - 28:08.53
10. Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:08.56

Women's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Risa Yokoe (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:18.11 - PB
2. Harumi Okamoto (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 15:33.08 - PB
3. Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 15:33.95 - PB
4. Nao Yamamoto (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:37.58
5. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 15:39.70 - PB
6. Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) - 15:43.57 - PB
7. Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.) - 15:44.32 - PB
8. Kanayo Miyata (Yutaka Giken) - 15:46.54 - PB
9. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) - 15:47.47
10. Misaki Hayashida (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:47.87

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Teressa Nyakora (Ethiopia/Mazda) - 13:33.13
2. Tonosa Hiko (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 13:36.54 - PB
3. Bekele Shiferaw (Ethiopia/Mazda) - 13:37.41 - PB
4. David Njuguna (Kenya/Yakult) - 13:38.03
5. Kazuma Taira (Waseda Univ.) - 13:38.64 - PB
6. Yuki Muta (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:39.02 - PB
7. Willy Kipselem (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:42.36
8. Shin Kimura (Honda) - 13:45.12 - PB
9. Toshiyuki Yanagi (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:46.33
10. Masaki Toda (Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:46.68

Men's 10000 m B-Heat
1. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 28:14.20 - PB
2. Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) - 28:17.54 - PB
3. Yusuke Ogura (Yakult) - 28:18.48 - PB
4. Shun Sakuraoka (Toyo Univ.) - 28:22.97 - PB
5. Hiroshi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 28:36.11

Men's 5000 m B-Heat
1. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Meiji Univ.) - 13:46.73 - PB
2. Ryoji Tatezawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.89 - PB
3. Shuhei Shirota (Kanebo) - 13:53.78 - PB
4. Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) - 13:54.27
5. Noriaki Oyama (Soka Univ.) - 13:55.24
6. Takuya Hanyu (Tokai Univ.) - 13:55.63
7. Atsushi Yamazaki (Subaru) - 13:58.16
8. Yuichiro Nishikawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:58.55 - PB

Women's 3000 mSC
1. Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) - 10:00.23
2. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 10:00.32
3. Soyoka Segawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 10:20.18
4. Ayaka Koike (Edion) - 10:37.97

Men's 1500 m A-Heat
1. Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) - 3:41.74 - PB
2. Yasunari Kusu (Komori Corp.) - 3:42.68 - PB
3. Renya Maeda (Meiji Univ.) - 3:44.41
4. Kazuyoshi Tamogami (Chuo Univ.) - 3:44.85 - PB
5. Yuta Matsuda (SGH Group) - 3:52.25

Men's 800 m A-Heat
1. Jordan Williams (Australia) - 1:48.28
2. Tatsuya Nishikubo (Waseda Univ.) - 1:48.40
3. Takaomi Watanabe (Nittai Univ.) - 1:48.90
4. Masato Yokota (Fujitsu) - 1:49.28
5. Jun Mitake (Nihon Univ.) - 1:50.31

© 2016 Brett Larner
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