At the 3rd National Junior High School Cross-Country Championships Sunday in Chiba, Fukuoka's Kosuke Ishida, a 3rd-year at Asakawa J.H.S., scored the win in the boys' 3 km in an excellent 8:47. With three junior high school national records to his name Ishida is the undisputed king of junior high athletics. Set to graduate next month before going on to Gunma's Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S., his win in his final national-level competition as a junior high school student crowned what has been a superb season. Osumi J.H.S. 3rd-year Mio Hashimoto from Kyoto won the girls' 3 km in 9:47.
Ishida won the race by 13 seconds over the 2nd-placer. "I've won every national competition up to now," Ishida smiled afterward. "Winning this one too is a big relief." This season he won both the National Junior High School Championships and Junior Olympics and broke the junior high national records for 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m, a record of success that marks him as one of the super elite of junior athletics. "This was my last national championships," he said. "I couldn't afford to lose to anyone." Raising his pace from 1 km out, he pushed on to the finish with room to spare.
Of his decision to leave Fukuoka and travel across the country to Gunma to attend Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S. he said, "I want a coach who's going to help me grow as a person. I want to become competitive at the international championships level."
For girls' winner Hashimoto the 3 km was her first national title, like Ishida's coming in her final race as a junior high school student. Her winning move came at the 1200 m point. "Pushing hard from start to finish is the way to win," she said. Running behind Junior Olympics champ Seira Fuwa after the start, Hashimoto noticed that Fuwa's pace was slipping and made a move to drop her. "I was really worried that she was going to come back and get me at the end," Hashimoto admitted, but her fears never materialized as she won by a margin of 7 seconds. Of her ambitions for the future she echoed Ishida when she said, "I want to become an athlete who can be internationally competitive."
translated by Brett Larner