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Ritsumeikan Men Win Fourth-Straight Tango University Ekiden

The sheer gravitational pull of the Hakone Ekiden drags most of the top high school boys' distance talent to the Tokyo-centric Kanto Region for university. But for those on the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe Kansai Region axis, Saturday's Tango University Ekiden was the peak of the season. In the race's 83rd edition, Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University men overcame a mid-race challenge from Kwansei Gakuin University to score a fourth-straight Tango win.

Ritsumeikan first-year Hayato Omori got the team out of the gate well with a 27:33 to lead the 9.0 km First Stage. Ritsumeikan's next three runners held the lead, but a course record 35:31 on the 12.3 km Fifth Stage from Kwansei Gakuin's Sota Ueda dropped Ritsumeikan to 2nd. Kazuki Moriya extended Kwansei Gakuin's lead from 6 seconds to 1:04, but when KGU's seventh runner Yoshinobu Imai struggled Ritsumeikan's Maki Yamada was three to pick up the lead with a new stage record of 38:32 for 13.3 km. Anchor Ryota Takahata, the only remaining member of Ritsumeikan's overall CR-setting 2018 squad, brought the team home safely to a fourth-straight Tango title in 4:16:20 for the full 8-stage, 84.1 km course, just 20 seconds off the 2018 record.

Kyoto Sangyo University's seventh runner Kosei Urata also overtook KGU's Imai, anchor Kaichi Izumi hanging on to give KSU 2nd in 4:17:36. KGU ended up 3rd in 4:18:51, far out of range of 4th-placer Kansai University. The top 10 auto-qualified for the 2022 race, with Doshisha University picking up the 10th spot in 4:31:11 by 19 seconds over Bukkyo University

Tango University Ekiden

83rd Kansai Region University Men's Championships
Kyotango, Kyoto, 20 Nov. 2021
22 teams, 8 stages, 84.1 km

Top Individual Stage Performances
First Stage (9.0 km) -Hayato Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:33
Second Stage (7.7 km) - Katsuhiko Kojima (Osaka Univ.) - 25:20
Third Stage (7.0 km) - Ryoga Kitazawa (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 19:57
Fourth Stage (9.8 km) - Itsuki Nagata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 30:17
Fifth Stage (12.3 km) - Sota Ueda (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 35:31 - CR
Sixth Stage (13.3 km) - Jinichiro Kameda (Kansai Univ.) - 39:47
Seventh Stage (13.3 km) - Maki Yamada (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 38:32 - CR
Eighth Stage (11.7 km) - Ryota Takahata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 35:09

Top Team Performances - top 10 qualify for 2022
1. Ritsumeikan University - 4:16:20
2. Kyoto Sangyo University - 4:17:36
3. Kwansei Gakuin University - 4:18:51
4. Kansei University - 4:20:04
5. Osaka Keizai University - 4:22:14
6. Kyoto University - 4:23:15
7. Biwako Gakuin University - 4:23:58
8. Osaka University - 4:29:49
9. Kinki University - 4:30:37
10. Doshisha University - 4:31:11
11. Bukkyo University - 4:31:30
12. Kobe University - 4:31:58

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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