No real surprises on the opening day of the 2023 National University Track and Field Championships. A new wave of humidity that swept into the Kanto region Tuesday meant tough conditions for the 10000 m races, but heavy favorites Sarah Wanjiru (Daito Bunka University) and Richard Etir (Tokyo Kokusai University) had no trouble taking the national titles in their debut seasons.
Wanjiru, winner of both the 5000 m and 10000 m at the spring's Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships, soloed a 33:18.93 to win by almost 45 seconds. Nanaka Miyahara (Fukuoka Univ.) won a last-lap battle against Hikaru Kitagawa (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) and Fuka Fukunaga (Ritsumeikan Univ.) for 2nd in 34:01.46, Kitagawa 3rd in 34:02.34. National champion Meijo University had three of its best runners in the field, Saki Harada going 5th in 34:15.57, Nanase Tanimoto 7th in 34:18.15, and Yuka Masubuchi dropping out mid-race.
The men's race immediately separated into two groups, one all-Kenyan and one all-Japanese. Collegiate 10000 m record holder Etir made a series of moves to shake the pack up before breaking free, with only Shadrack Kipkemei (Nihon Univ.) able to stay close but never really in position for the win. Etir took the win in 28:15.75, Kipkemei next in 28:17.38 and Stephen Muthini (Soka Univ.) 3rd in 28:22.31. With top-tier programs like national champion Komazawa University and Aoyama Gakuin University giving it a miss the top Japanese spot went to Kenzo Ijichi (Koku Gakuin Univ.), 8th in 29:31.20.
In qualifying rounds, Konan University had an excellent run in the women's 4x100 m heats, 0.01 off the meet record at 44.52 to lead the qualifiers for the final by 0.37. MR holder Fukuoka University was the only other team to go under 45 seconds, clocking 44.89. Juntendo University was the only men's team under 39 seconds in the 4x100 m heats at 38.95, but with Keio University 2nd in 39.00 and Tsukuba University 3rd in 39.05 it looks like a good final ahead on Friday.
In the women's 100 m heats, Konan's Yume Okuno and Miu Kurashige had the two fastest times in the field, Okuno running 11.83 -1.5 m/s to win Heat 1 and Kurashige 11.84 -2.4 m/s to take Heat 7. Heat 5 winner Haruka Taji (Chuo Univ.) was the only other runner under 11.90, running 11.86 -0.1 m/s. Juntendo's Shoto Uno was fastest in the men's 100 m heats at 10.25 -0.0 m/s, with Naoki Okami (Sendai Univ.) and Yugo Haitamataira (Hachinohe Gakuin Univ.) the only others under 10.30 at 10.26 +0.2 m/s and 10.29 -0.0 m/s. Favorite Hiroki Yanagita (Toyo Univ.) eased through with a 10.33 -1.5 m/s win in Heat 2.
In the women's 400 m, Marin Adachi (Sonoda Gakuen Joshi Univ.) was the only runner under 55 seconds in the heats, winning Heat 5 in 54.96. Budapest World Championships team member Joseph Nakajima (Toyo Univ.) was a DNS in the men's 400 m heats, leaving Heat 5 winner Masataka Tomoda (Tokyo Rika University) to lead the heats in 46.46.
Complete results here. The National University Track and Field Championships continue through Sunday in Kumagaya, Saitama.