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Sendai Ikuei Girls and Boys Sweep National High School Ekiden Titles

video highlights by NHK

Bringing together the country's best high school athletes in Kyoto, the Dec. 22 National High School Ekiden Championships saw Miyagi prefecture's Sendai Ikuei H.S. dominate, taking the national titles in both the girls' and boys' races. It was the first time in 26 years for Sendai Ikuei to achieve the double at Nationals.

The girls' race, a half marathon distance split into five sections, featured an early duel between last year's winner Kamimura Gakuen H.S. of Kagoshima prefecture and Sendai Ikuei, 3rd last year. A stage-winning run from third runner Moe Shimizu put Sendai Ikuei into the top position, and from there to the end it held on to the lead to win in 1:07:00, its fourth national title and the fifth-fastest time in event history. Only one other school, Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa H.S., has ever won Nationals four times. Anchor and team captain Rina Kimura was overjoyed as she commented, "We started the race today feeling like all of us were ready to fly. I didn't think I was going to start my stage in the lead, but I gave it everything I had so that nobody could catch me. I'm super happy to have won with an all-Japanese team."

Following the girls' race, Sendai Ikuei immediately asserted control of the marathon-length seven-stage boys' race. Mid-race they lost ground to Okayama prefecture's Kurashiki H.S., falling over a minute behind, but with a stage record-breaking run by Muchiri Ndirangu on the Sixth Stage Sendai Ikuei closed the glad to just five seconds. First-year anchor Shunsuke Yoshii caught Kurashiki's anchor, waiting until the final lap of the track with the finish line in sight to kick away for the win. Sendai Ikuei's time of 2:01:32 was the second-fastest ever in the National High School Ekiden's 70-year history, the school's eighth national title and first in 12 years.

Stage record-setter Ndirangu told reporters, "I'm very happy that we won. All I thought about was doing best, and it was a really fun race." Anchor Yoshii said, "The gap to the lead really closed up on the Sixth Stage, so I thought that if I didn't overtake 1st it would be my fault that we didn't win. I still had gas in the tank on the track, so when it came down to the last sprint with about 200 m I went for it with everything I had. It's so awesome that we won."

The last time Sendai Ikuei took both the girls' and boys' National High School Ekiden Championships titles was in 1993. The only other school to ever achieve the double was Hiroshima prefecture's Sera H.S. in 2015.

31st National High School Girls Ekiden Championships

Kyoto, 12/22/19
47 teams, 5 stages, 21.0975 km
complete results

Top Team Results
1. Sendai Ikuei H.S. - 1:07:00
2. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:07:19
3. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:08:24
4. Kojikan H.S. - 1:08:41
5. Aomori Yamada H.S. - 1:08:47
6. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:08:59
7. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:09:04
8. Isahaya H.S. - 1:09:05
9. Nagano Higashi H.S. - 1:09:20
10. Tokiwa H.S. - 1:09:22

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.0 km) - Haruka Kokai (2nd yr,, Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 19:29
Second Stage (4.0975 km) - Tricia Muthoni (2nd yr., Sera H.S.) - 12:15
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Moe Shimizu (3rd yr., Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 9:24
Fourth Stage (3.0 km) - Natsumi Yamanaka (1st yr., Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 9:20
Fifth Stage (5.0 km) - Elizabeth Njeri (3rd yr., Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 15:28

70th National High School Boys Ekiden

Kyoto, 12/22/19
58 teams, 7 stages, 42.195 km
complete results

Top Team Results
1. Sendai Ikuei H.S. - 2:01:32
2. Kurashiki H.S. - 2:01:35
3. Saku Chosei H.S. - 2:02:28
4. Kyushu Gakuin H.S. - 2:02:39
5. Gakuho Ishikawa H.S. - 2:02:43
6. Oita Tomei H.S. - 2:02:52
7. Miyazaki Nichidai H.S. - 2:02:56
8. Jiyugaoka H.S. - 2:02:57
9. Tonodai Daini H.S. - 2:03:00
10. Toyokawa H.S. - 2:03:16

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (10.0 km) - Issei Sato (3rd yr., Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 28:48
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Yusuke Shirao (2nd yr., Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 8:07
Third Stage (8.1075 km) - Philemon Kiplagat (3rd yr., Kurashiki H.S.) - 22:44
Fourth Stage (8.0875 km) - Kosei Matsunami (3rd yr., Jiyugaoka H.S.) - 22:56
Fifth Stage (3.0 km) - Yuki Kamikariya (2nd yr., Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 8:36
Sixth Stage (5.0 km) - Muchiri Ndirangu (2nd yr,. Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 14:06 - CR
Seventh Stage (5.0 km) - Haato Komaki (2nd yr., Rakunan H.S.) - 14:08

source article:
translated by Brett Larner

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