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Hironaka and Nakaya Win National XC Junior Races, Kimura and Osako Take Senior Titles

Top-ranked high schoolers Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) and Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) won the junior titles at Saturday's National Cross-Country Championships in Fukuoka's Umi no Nakamichi Kaihin Park.

With some of her main competition including Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) on a training camp in Australia, Hironaka's primary challenge in the U20 Women's 6 km came from Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) who pushed her throughout the race but couldn't keep up in the later stages. Hironaka won in 19:50 by a margin of 8 seconds over Takamatsu, the pair the only ones to break 20 minutes.

Nakaya, star runner of 2017 National High School Ekiden champ Saku Chosei H.S. with accomplishments including a 13:47.22 best for 5000 m last October, outclassed the field to win the U20 Men's 8 km in 24:05 by 12 seconds over Takuro Miura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.). His Saku Chosei teammates Sakito Matsuzaki and Keita Honma took 3rd and 5th for a typically dominant team performance.

In the Senior Women's 8 km, Rika Kaseda of 2017 National University Women's Ekiden winner Meijo University did most of the hard work early in the race, but with a run of sheer relentlessness Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) pulled ahead to win in 26:31 over corporate league competition Yukari Abe (Shimamura) and Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post). Sub-32 for 10000 m, Yuki Munehisa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) ran Kaseda down to take the top collegiate spot at 4th in 26:44, Kaseda another 11 seconds back in 5th. Along with 8th placer Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) both were selected for the Japanese women's team for April's World University Cross Country Championships in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

In the Senior Men's 10 km, 2012 winner Suguru Osako (NOP), a Saku Chosei graduate, did what he did best, laying back for the first three laps of the 2 km course before sealing the race with a long push. In the past Osako has often fallen victim to overestimating his last kick. Here he judged his timing perfectly to avoid the shortcoming, just out of range of the hard-kicking Kosei Yamaguchi (Aisan Kogyo) and Toyo University teammates Kazuya Nishiyama and Shunsuke Imamura in the home straight. Toyo dominated the collegiate component of the race, with Nishiyama, Imamura and Toyo's Sota Watanabe, 6th overall, picked for the World University XC team.

National Cross-Country Championships

Umi no Nakamichi Kaihin Park XC Course
Fukuoka, 2/24/18

U20 Women's 6 km
1. Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) - 19:50
2. Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 19:58
3. Yuna Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 20:02
4. Narumi Kobayashi (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 20:02
5. Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.) - 20:05

U20 Men's 8 km
1. Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 24:05
2. Takuro Miura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 24:17
3. Sakito Matsuzaki (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 24:23
4. Soshi Suzuki (Hamamatsu Nittai H.S.) - 24:26
5. Keita Honma (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 24:31

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Tomoka Kimura (Univ. Ent.) - 26:31
2. Yukari Abe (Shimamura) - 26:34
3. Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 26:39
4. Yuki Munehisa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 26:44
5. Rika Kaseda (Meijo Univ.) - 26:55
6. Yuko Kikuchi (Hokuren) - 26:58
7. Nanami Watanabe (Panasonic) - 27:11
8. Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) - 27:14

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Suguru Osako (NOP) - 29:53
2. Kosei Yamaguchi (Aisan Kogyo) - 29:57
3. Kazuya Nishiyama (Toyo Univ.) - 29:58
4. Shunsuke Imanishi (Toyo Univ.) - 30:01
5. Shin Kimura (Honda) - 30:05
6. Sota Watanabe (Toyo Univ.) - 30:06
7. Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota) - 30:06
8. Kazuma Taira (Kanebo) - 30:06

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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