The Titans got a preview of what they’re likely to see at this year’s Far East Championship when they traveled to Yokota Air Base for the The Beast of the Far East. Although the Titans produced 5 Beasts, 4 Silver Medalists and also won the team match over Kinnick with a score of 106 (Kinnick also had 106 but the Titans had one more Champion so they edged out the win) – The results were clear – there is still much work do if the team is going to claim it’s 4th consecutive Far East Individual championship and repeat as Dual Champions. It’s also clear that we have some good old fashioned rivalries brewing in several of the weight classes!
After the preliminary rounds the Titans looked promising and then mistakes and a lack of attacking took a toll on the grapplers enough to limit the team to just 5 wrestlers in the finals and 5 in a position to wrestle back for silver.
101 – Eshan Singhi wrestled well throughout the tournament and took out his opponents one after another to prove he is The 101 Beast of the East! Eshan stuck to the basics and scored using the moves practiced over and over with his ankle laces the driving force behind his wins.
108 – Jong Pyeong battled his way through the third place bracket after getting knocked out of the winners bracket in his first match against Kadena. He battled back hard but was unable to string together enough wins to get back to 3rd place.
115 – Tatsu got knocked into the third place bracket after losing to his Kinnick rival. The match went the distance and saw little scoring, but enough to put Tatsu on a long road back to third. Tatsu then strung together a series of wins and was able to wrestle back to take second place. To date the wrestlers have split with each other as Tatsu won the dual before giving his Kinnick opponent this win. This may turn into a rivalry as the season progresses but Tatsu is going to need to turn on the scoring if he wants to have the chance to beat the rest of the field and face-off against the 115 Red Devil in the upcoming tournaments.
122 – In a battle of Far East Champions that took place in the quarter finals, Rio went into his defensive sprawl just a split second too late and allowed his Kinnick opponent to get under him and take him down for a pin that put Rio into an unfamiliar position – wrestling back in the third place bracket. But wrestle back he did and seemed to take out his frustration of losing on each opponent until he ended up in second place. The Rio/Lucas rivalry will continue to provide some of the more exciting matches we’ll see through the rest of the season.
129 – Tatsuo, like many of the Titans, had his first match against Kinnick. He wrestled smart but couldn’t execute any of his scoring moves and ended the first period down 5-0 and then within seconds of the second round starting the match was over and Tatsuo began the long process of wrestling back. He got back to basics and took more scoring shots as he progressed back up through the third place bracket and ultimately brought home a silver medal. It’s clear that there are only two things standing between Tatsuo and winning golds – a Red Devil and an absence of attacks. If he can get the later going, then the former will be more easily dealt with.
135 – Three time Far East Champion Chang Young blew though his matches and brought home another Beast title. Chang Young is chasing history this season and everyone else in his weight class continues to chase him!
141 – Far East Champion Ryo Osawa wrestled as he typically does – in control and with a purpose. Ryo brought home another Beast title to add to his medal collection but it’s clear that his focus remains on getting the team to another Far East Championship. Along the way he, and co-captain Chang Young, will continue pushing their teammates through the upcoming tournaments and pace them to reach one goal at a time to win – Kanto League, Kanto tournament, Far East Individual and Far East Dual.
148 – Ryo Sawa started off in true Beast Mode getting after his first two opponents and looked to be in a position to make a real run at the gold. However, Ryo ran into his biggest nemesis, mistakes, and wasn’t able to place in the top 3. The potential and the skills are there for Ryo to be a real threat at 148 now all he needs to do is wrestle consistently and minimize the mistakes.
158 – Austin’s first match was against his CAJ rival (eventual champion and voted outstanding wrestler of the tournament) and, like many other first round matches of the day, appeared to be what you’d expect to see in the finals. Austin came out strong and wrestled a good match but just hasn’t found that winning combination to knock out the CAJ wrestler that went on to win gold. Austin wrestled back through the third place bracket and fell just short of taking 3rd place overall. It’s clear Austin will be in the hunt for 158 gold throughout the season.
168 – Mitchell finally had a Beast worth remembering as he took out his first two opponents by tech fall and then faced off against CAJ’s 168 for the finals. The two wrestled to a 2-2 tie with Mitchell getting the decision. Two things are clear about this weight class, these two will battle back and forth in just about every tournament that they both wrestle in and the winner is most likely going to be determined by which one is in the best shape. This will be a rivalry to watch every week this season.
180 – Alex faced off against Kinnick’s Far East Champion in the first match, which just happened to be the quarter finals and Alex’s first match of the day due to wrestlers scratching from the bracket. Alex lost a close one 4-2 after pinning his opponent the previous week to help the Titans win the dual with Kinnick. After dropping this match Alex went on to handily beat his next three opponents to take silver. This rivalry is just getting started and will continue for the remainder of the season with these two wrestlers with a rematch likely to play a key role in deciding the outcome of the Kanto tournament.
215 – Shane continued his unbeaten season and had a Beast to be proud of as he won every match by pin and the biggest throw of the day in his final match (see video below) – one that would have made a judoka proud! Shane wrestled smart in every match and stuck to the basics which helped him to set-up match winning moves. If Shane can continue winning like this he has the potential to position himself as the front runner for Far East.
HWT – none
Overall, the Titans showed potential and also uncovered weaknesses. “We were far too passive and not attacking enough,” commented Coach Yabui. Traditionally, The Beast serves to provide Coach Yabui with a gauge of where we are at this early point in the season versus where other teams are and what he needs to have the wrestlers start focusing on to be more competitive as the season progresses. He added, “It was a good learning experience for me, and hopefully, for the boys.”