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Hirano and Katsura Win National Junior High School Ekiden Championships

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201612/0009761574.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 24th National Junior High School Ekiden Championships took place Dec. 18 at Kibogaoka Cultural Park in Yasu, Shiga.  Hyogo's Hirano J.H.S. won its first national title in the six stage, 18 km boys' race in 57:31. Katsura J.H.S. of Kyoto won the five stage, 12 km girls' race in 41:01 to become just the second school in history to win three-straight titles, beating rival Arai J.H.S. of Hyogo by 56 seconds.

In the boys' race Hirano did not get off to a great start in the first half.  Its fourth runner Kentaro Kishimoto began in 10th place 24 seconds behind the leader, but passing 9 people over the 3 km stage he put Hirano ahead by 3 seconds.  Fifth runner Masaya Tamai dropped back to 2nd, 2 seconds behind the leader, but Hirano's anchor Yuta Kamikariya turned it around to take the win by 4 seconds.  Ryoke J.H.S. of Kanagawa was 2nd, with Ehime's Niihama Nishi J.H.S. 3rd another 3 seconds back.

In the girls' race Katsura's Mayu Matsumuro started in 5th, 29 seconds behind the leader.  Its second runner Kazuha Kobayashi ran the fastest time on her short 2.0 km stage to move Katsura into 2nd with 6 seconds to 1st. Third runner Nonoka Sone followed up by putting Katsura out front by 26 seconds, and from there to the finish its lead only grew.  Arai J.H.S. likewise moved up steadily throughout the race, going from 9th to 2nd.  Ono Higashi J.H.S. of Hiroshima took 3rd.

24th National Junior High School Ekiden Championships
Kibogaoka Cultural Park Sports Zone, Yasu, Shiga, 12/18/16
boys: 48 teams, six stages, 18.0 km
girls: 48 teams, five stages, 12.0 km
click here for complete results: boys / girls

Top Boys' Team Results
1. Hirano J.H.S. (Hyogo) - 57:31
2. Ryoke J.H.S.  (Kanagawa) - 57:35
3. Niihama Nishi J.H.S. (Ehime) - 57:38
4. Hakusan J.H.S. (Chiba) - 57:41
5. Nakashima J.H.S. (Nagano) - 57:45

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (3.0 km): Kaishin Hattori (Chikusa J.H.S.) - 8:59
Second Stage (3.0 km): Taiga Hashikawa (Niihama Nishi J.H.S.) - 9:18
Third Stage (3.0 km): Takuma Miyashita (Mishima J.H.S.) - 9:22
Fourth Stage (3.0 km): Hayato Arai (Fujimi J.H.S.) - 9:09
Fifth Stage (3.0 km): Makoto Yoshida (Mishima J.H.S.) - 9:40
Sixth Stage (3.0 km): Kyosuke Hanao (Sakuragaoka J.H.S.) - 9:22

Top Girls' Team Results
1. Katsura J.H.S. (Kyoto) - 41:01
2. Arai J.H.S. (Hyogo) - 41:57
3. Ono Higashi J.H.S. (Hiroshima) - 42:10
4. Kaminoyama Minami J.H.S. (Yamagata) - 42:11
5. Horikawa J.H.S. (Toyama) - 42:11

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (3.0 km): Akari Yamamoto (Kotoura J.H.S.) - 9:48
Second Stage (2.0 km): Kazuha Kobayashi (Katsura J.H.S.) - 6:41
Third Stage (2.0 km): Maki Ueda (Ono Higashi J.H.S.) - 6:39
Fourth Stage (2.0 km): Saki Kamata (Katsura J.H.S.) - 6:55
Fifth Stage (3.0 km): Momoko Ichimoto (Kotoura J.H.S.) - 10:16

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