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Tanaka Leads Five High Schoolers Under Nine Minutes in National Sports Festival Junior Women's 3000 m

The 2017 National Sports Festival took place over the long weekend, the last major track meet on the Japanese calendar as ekiden season gets into full swing. This year saw one of the greatest women's 3000 m races and certainly the best high school 3000 m ever held on Japanese soil, as 18-year-old Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) led five high school women under nine minutes to win in 8:54.27.

The daughter of Japan's best female amateur marathoner, 2:29:30 runner Chihiro Tanaka, Tanaka broke nine minutes for the first time in August with a runner-up finish to Kenyan Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) at the National High School Championships in 8:59.83. Last month she took that to 8:58.81 at a time trial meet in Shizuoka. At the National Sports Festival she ran at the front of a lead pack of eight featuring five Japanese runners and three Kenyans, the pace close to Kayoko Fukushi's 8:52.3 junior national record and Yuriko Kobayashi's 8:52.33 high school national record. At the bell Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) had the lead, Tanaka and Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) just behind. In the home straight it looked like Mokaya would take it, but this time Tanaka found what it took to get by with 50 m to go and cross the line first by a margin of 0.41.

With her 8:54.27 Tanaka moved up to all-time #2 on the high school 3000 m record list, #3 on the junior list, and #7 on the Japanese women's list, less than two seconds from the marks set by future 1500 m, 5000 m and half marathon national record holders Fukushi and Kobayashi. And it wasn't just her. With a PB of 8:54.68 Mokaya moved up to 5th on the Japanese high school Kenyan all-time list. Ogasawara, 3rd in 8:54.98, and Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.), 4th in 8:56.29, also made the record lists, Ogasawara joining Tanaka on all three and Hironaka making both the high school and junior all-time top ten. For comparison, the top five all bettered then-18-year-old Mary Cain's 8:58.48 winning time at the 2014 World Junior Championships. The top six and eight of the top ten all ran PBs, altogether helping to cement the race's place in Japanese history.

By comparison the junior men's 5000 m was relatively conservative. Benuel Mogeni (Oita Tomei H.S.) outran three of the best current Japanese high school boys to take the national title in 13:55.92. Passing up the first big high school ekiden of the season in favor of the National Sports Festival, Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) was the top Japanese runner at 2nd in 14:00.39, just beating Ryuta Igawa (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) and Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) in the home straight. Another contingent of junior men faced off over 3000 m, with Hiroto Hayashida (Keiho H.S.) taking the win in 8:33.72.

In the senior women's 5000 m, teammates Tomoka Kimura and Azusa Sumi (both Universal Entertainment) went 1-2, Kimura getting the win in 15:33.14. Marathoner Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) beat last year's winner Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) for 3rd in 15:37.82.

In noteworthy non-distance news, Nanako Fujii (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) set a junior national record of 21:33.44 to win the senior women's 5000 m race walk, skimming less than a second off the old record which dated back to 2003. Meet records also fell in seven non-distance events:
  • Jr. women's 800 m: Maki Ueda (Funairi H.S.) - 2:07.12
  • Sr. men's 800 m: Sho Kawamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:48.00
  • Jr. women's 100 mH: Momoko Yamanishi (Shiraume Gakuen H.S.) - 13.52 (+0.1 m/s)
  • Jr. men's 110 mH: Yuto Higuchi (Nara Ikuei H.S.) - 13.40 (-0.1 m/s)
  • Sr. men's discus throw: Masateru Yugami (Toyota) - 59.24 m
  • Sr. women's javelin throw: Haruka Kitaguchi (Nihon Univ.) - 61.07 m
  • Jr. women's triple jump: Sayaka Nakamura (Ishida H.S.) - 12.86 m (+1.2 m/s)

2017 National Sports Festival

Matsuyama, Ehime, Oct. 6-10, 2017
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 3000 m
1. Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 8:54.27 - PB
2. Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 8:54.68 - PB
3. Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 8:54.98 - PB
4. Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) - 8:56.29 - PB
5. Mary Shipuko (Kaishi Kokusai H.S.) - 8:58.45 - PB
6. Yuna Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 9:01.36 - PB
7. Tabitha Kamau (Nomura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:01.51
8. Ema Hayashi (Takasaki Kenko Fukushi Prep H.S.) - 9:03.37 - PB
9. Mai Misaki (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 9:09.11
10. Saeka Kotera (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 9:11.72 - PB

Junior Men's 3000 m
1. Hiroto Hayashida (Keiho H.S.) - 8:33.72
2. Kosuke Ishida (Asakawa J.H.S.) - 8:35.48
3. Rui Sasaki (Morioka Daiichi H.S.) - 8:36.04
4. Kaishin Hattori (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 8:36.34
5. Masaya Yanagimoto (Toyokawa H.S.) - 8:36.42

Junior Men's 5000 m
1. Benuel Mogeni (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 13:55.92
2. Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 14:00.39
3. Ryuto Igawa (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 14:00.98
4. Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) - 14:01.63
5. Peter Mwangi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 14:01.64
6. Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 14:03.21
7. Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 14:03.93
8. Yunosuke Chigira (Tokyo Nogyo Prep Daini H.S.) - 14:12.21
9. Shunsuke Taira (Shiraishi H.S.) - 14:23.72
10. Hibiki Yasuda (Mashita Seifu H.S.) - 14:24.73

Senior Women's 5000 m
1. Tomoka Kimura (Univ. Ent.) - 15:33.14
2. Azusa Sumi (Univ. Ent.) - 15:37.12
3. Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) - 15:37.82
4. Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) - 15:39.88
5. Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) - 15:42.06
6. Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 15:42.54
7. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 15:44.91
8. Hisami Ishii (Yamada Denki) - 15:47.08
9. Akane Sekino (Imabari Zosen) - 15:49.23
10. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 15:50.69

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


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