Like next weekend's National Corporate Track and Field Championships, this weekend's National University Track and Field Championships in Kumagaya, Saitama, always come at an odd time on the calendar, especially for distance runners who've spent most of the summer doing ekiden season base mileage in Hokkaido. Some schools, like 2023 Hakone Ekiden champ Komazawa University, give it a miss entirely in favor of focusing on ekiden season. Streaming is on the Athlete Channel on Youtube from Thursday through Sunday Japan time. Live results will be here.
Budapest World Championships national team members Ami Yamamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Maki Saito (Tokai Univ.), Ayane Yanai (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Hiroki Yanagita (Toyo Univ.), Joseph Nakajima (Toyo Univ.), Kenki Imaizumi (Tsukuba Univ.), Kazuki Kurokawa (Hosei Univ.), Ryuji Miura (Juntendo Univ.) and Tomoya Karasawa (Nittai Univ.) all feature on the entry list, with Yamamoto and Kurokawa set to take one more for the team at the end of the month at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
A large number of events have one clear favorite. Ai Watanabe (Sonoda Joshi Gakuen Univ.) has an almost 2-second lead in the women's 800 m at 2:03.75. Sarah Wanjiru (Daito Bunka Univ.) looks set to take both the 5000 m and 10000 m titles, the only woman under 15:30 at 15:14.00, and under 32:25 at 31:46.17. Yamamoto has the same kind of advantage in the 400 mH at 56.06, with only one other woman just under 57.50. Konan University looks like the favorite in the women's 4x100 m at 44.72, with Ritsumeikan University holding the edge in the 4x400 m at 3:37.21. Expect Yanai to dominate the women's 10000 mRW, almost a minute ahead of 2nd place at 44:27.72 and another minute and a half ahead of 3rd on paper.
On the field, Miu Ito (Shikoku Univ.) is the women's long jump favorite at 6.24 m. Akari Funada (Mukogawa Joshi Univ.) is 75 cm ahead in the triple jump at 13.81 m. Same goes for Fumika Ono (Tsukuba Univ.) in the shot put at 15.74 m, almost 60 cm up on 2nd, Saito in the discus throw, nearly 7 m ahead at 57.43 m, Raika Murakami (Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ.) in the hammer throw, almost 3.5 m up at 65.33 m, Reina Kimura (Niigata Iryo Fukushi Univ.), almost 3 m ahead in the javelin throw at 59.49 m, and the heptathlon, where Yuri Tanaka (Shigakkan Univ.) is almost 300 points up on the her closest competitor.
In men's track events Yanagita leads 100 m entries by 0.13 with a 10.02 SB/PB. Daisuke Takahashi (Hokkaido Univ.) is the only runner in the 1500 m under 3:40 at 3:38.69. Richard Etir (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) has a 45-second lead in the 10000 m with his collegiate record 27:06.88, and it'd be a surprise to see any challenge him. Rachid Muratake (Juntendo Univ.) missed Budapest due to early season injury but has gotten back to peak form, running 13.18 to be positioned almost half a second ahead of the field. Kurokawa's lead in the 400 m isn't as big, but at 48.89 he's the only man under 49 seconds.
Karasawa is the heavy-duty favorite in the pole vault at 5.60 m, nobody else having gone higher than 5.45 m. Yuto Toriumi (Nihon Univ.) leads the long jump at 8.11 m, only one other athlete having gone better than 7.85 m. Jason Atuobeng (Fukuoka Univ.) has a massive lead in the shot put at 18.42, 90 cm up on his nearest competition. Kosei Yamashita (Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ.) leads the discus throw by over 50 cm at 55.44 m. Yusaku Iwao (Tsukuba Univ.) has a smaller lead in the javelin throw but is the only one over 80 m, just, at 80.09 m.
In a smaller number, it's mostly a head-to-head between 2 or 3 people. Shizuha Moriyama (Fukuoka Univ.) and Marin Adachi (Sonoda Gakuen Joshi Univ.) are the women's 400 m favorites at 53.62 and 53.65. Mizuki Michishita (Rikkyo Univ.) leads a probable 3-way race in the women's 1500 m at 4:14.88, with Saki Katagihara (Tsukuba Univ.) and Mao Kogure (Juntendo Univ) both under 4:17. It's another troika in the 100 mH with Kiyono Tanaka (Surugadai Univ.) one of 3 runners in the 13.20-25 range at 13.20.
The men's 200 m looks mostly like to be between Yudai Nishi (Waseda Univ.) and Shota Uno (Juntendo Univ.), the only men under 20.60 at 20.43 and 20.49. Nakajima and Imaizumi are likewise the only men under 46 in the 400 m, Nakajima with a 45.12 best in Budapest and Imaizumi coming in at 45.54. Mikuto Kaneko (Chuo Univ.) is the probable favorite in the 800 m at 1:46.34, with Daiki Nemoto (Juntendo Univ.) the only other man under 1:47 at 1:46.73. Nihon University, Tsukuba University and Kansai University are all under 39 seconds in the 4x100 m, Nihon leading at 38.72.
Shun Yamanaka (Kyoto Univ.) and Tomoi Honda (Gifu Univ.) have both cleared 2.20 m in the high jump, Yamanaka with an edge at 2.23 m. Manato Miyao (Toyo Univ.) and Yuto Adachi (Fukuoka Univ.) are both over 16.30 m in the triple jump. Shota Fukuda (Nihon Univ.) and Kohei Oda (Kyushu Kyoritsu) are the only men over 70 m in the hammer throw. The decathlon looks like a pure head-to-head between Kiriki Kawamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.), 7286, and Masayuki Maekawa (Chukyo Univ.), 7282, and could be one of this year's highlights.
In the rest, it's wide open. 0.02 separate the top 4 in the women's 100 m with others right behind. Yuki Kido (Fukuoka Univ.) and Miharu Tajima (Fukuoka Univ.) both come to Nationals timed at 23.76, with two others within 0.06 of them. At least 5 runners are in contention in the 3000 mSC, with Yui Kawase (Daito Bunka Univ.) holding a marginal advantage at 10:10.61.
Kaede Ito (Nittai Univ.) has cleared 1.80 m in the women's high jump, but with another 6 athletes having gone 1.76 m to 1.79 m any of them could win it. It's the same situation in the pole vault, where Megumi Dainobu (Nittai Univ.) has cleared 4.20 m but another 3 are close behind.
H.S. 5000 m NR holder Hiroto Yoshioka (Juntendo Univ.) looks like a favorite at 13:22.99, but in reality he'll almost definitely be racing Miura and Kamina Leakey (Soka Univ.), both under 13:33. With NR holder Miura in the 5000 m the 3000 mSC is very open, with at least 4 real contenders led by Yusuke Oyoshi (Teikyo Univ.) and Yuki Murao (Juntendo Univ.). It's a 4-way race in the 4x400 m too, with Tsukuba University, Toyo University, Waseda University and Hosei University all under 3:05 and separated by less than half a second, and in the 10000 mRW, with 4 men under 40 minutes led by Kazuhiro Tateiwa (Juntendo Univ.) in 39:44.76.