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Sonoda and Toyo Break 4x400m Records on Final Day of National University Track and Field Championships


The 2023 National University Track and Field Championships wrapped with two meet records, one as old as one of the women who broke it, in its final two events. Ai Watanabe of Sonoda Gakuen Joshi University started her afternoon with a win in the 800 m final at 12:30 in 2:07.89, over half a second up on 2nd-placer Mahiro Hasegawa (Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.). Two hours later she was back to run 2nd for Sonoda in the 4x400 m. Yuzuki Nakao put them into the lead, and Watanabe, Hinata Tochio and anchor Marin Adachi carried the momentum all the way to a 3:36.71 MR, breaking Fukushima University's 2004-era 3:37.30 record. 2nd-placer Fukuoka University just missed joining them under the record too at 3:37.41, with Waseda University close behind in 3:37.65 for 3rd.

Immediately following that, after its first three runners built a solid lead the Waseda men looked to be in range of not just the meet record but the collegiate 4x400 m record of 3:03.71 from 2000. Just behind them, Budapest World Championships member Joseph Nakajima was anchoring Toyo University after skipping the individual 400 m. It looked like the setup for a classic record-breaking finale, but then Waseda's Kenta Shinjo and anchor Masaki Kanemoto fumbled their exchange, and then Toyo's Shunya Usuki did the same with Nakajima. Nakajima still managed to pull it together in spite of the lost time and held off Tsukuba University for the win in a new MR of 3:04.08, but there were no smiles on the Toyo team as they waited to see if they'd been DQd or when they saw that they'd missed the collegiate record. Even fewer on the Waseda team, which ended up 8th out of 9.

In other track results:
  • Momoa Yamada (Tamagawa Univ.) won the women's 3000 mSC in 10:06.30, a rare national title for a Tamagawa athlete.
  • Yuki Murao (Juntendo Univ.) took the men's 3000 mSC in a near photo finish with Yusuke Oyoshi (Teikyo Univ.), running 8:43.07 to Oyoshi's 8:43.12.
  • Waseda took the top two spots in the women's 400 mH final, Yuka Kawamura getting the win in 58.33 and Sumika Okawa 2nd in 58.71. 3rd did come down to a photo finish, Mio Tsujii (Osaka Kyoiku Univ.) clocking 58.735, Meri Masako (Chuo Univ.) 58.739 and Honoka Aoki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) 58.75.
  • Not even a photo finish could separate the top two in the men's 400 mH final. Both Daiki Ogawa (Toyo Univ.) and Ken Toyoda (Keio Univ.) were timed at 48.905, and both shared 1st. Masaki Kanemoto (Waseda Univ.) took 3rd in 49.31.
  • Kaishi Kitamura (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) won the men's 800 m in 1:49.04.
  • The women's 200 m saw the Fukuoka University and Konan University teams fully interleaved in the final, Fukuoka athletes going 1-3-5 and Konan 2-4-6. Shizuho Moriyama and Yuki Kido took 1st and 3rd for Fukuoka in 23.84 and 24.36 (-0.0), then ran 3rd and 4th on Fukuoka's 2nd-place 4x400 m team. Abigail Ido, a member of Konan's winning 4x100 m team, was 2nd in 24.03.
  • Yudai Nishi (Waseda Univ.) won the men's 200 m final in 20.75 (-0.5), then went on to run 2nd on Waseda's 4x400 m team. Shoto Uno (Juntendo Univ.) was 2nd in 20.80, with 3rd placer Aoto Suzuki, 20.85, also running 2nd for Toyo's record-breaking team in the 4x400 m.
  • Yuri Tanaka (Seigakkan Univ.) came on strong over the second day of the women's heptathlon to take the national title with 5391 points, the only athlete over 800 points in the javelin throw and one of only three to do it in the 800 m finale.
On the field:
  • Shun Yamanaka (Kyoto Univ.) won the men's high jump with a 2.21 m clearance on his first attempt, the only athlete to go higher than 2.18 m.
  • Collegiate record holder Akari Funada (Mukogawa Joshi Univ.) won the women's triple jump with a 13.49 m (-0.0) 2nd attempt, the only athlete over 13 m but 16 cm shy of the meet record.
  • Meet and U20 NR holder Maki Saito (Tokai Univ.) was the only woman over 47 m in the discus throw, her opening attempt of 52.12 m enough for the win but stretching it out to 53.77 m on her 5th attempt.
  • Kosei Yamashita (Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ.) had three throws bigger than 2nd place in the men's discus throw, his final attempt of 55.40 m the biggest of them.
In overall team scoring, Nittai University was the top women's program with 69 points and 4 event wins. Fukuoka University also scored 69 points, but with only 2 wins was 2nd overall. Tsukuba University was 3rd with 59.5 points. Juntendo University came out on top on the men's side with 94 points, Tokai University 2nd with 62 and Toyo University 3rd with 61.5. Toyo had the most men's individual event wins at 5. 5 of the 6 programs to make the top 3 women's and men's teams are located in the Tokyo-centric Kanto Region, with Kyushu Region Fukuoka the only outlier.

Complete results here. Men's 200 m runner-up Uno, men's hammer throw winner Shota Fukuda (Nihon Univ.) and women's 400 mH hurdles winner Ami Yamamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.) still have at least one more big meet to go this season when they compete at the Hangzhou Asian Games at the end of this month and top of October.

© 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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