January 20, 2024
The ASIJ Mustangs came into the St. Mary’s gymnasium undefeated in the Kanto League dual meets, defeating Zama, Yokota, and Kinnick who beat St. Mary’s earlier in the season. The Titans only hope of a shared co-championship league title was to defeat CAJ and ASIJ on the same day, but expectations were low.
“They [ASIJ] have several wrestlers that are really good, we need to be wrestling the hardest we’ve ever wrestled to pull this off,” commented Coach Yabui, also referring to the deficit of the Titans on Saturday with their 189lb and 215lb wrestlers out for sickness and injury.
After sweeping past CAJ 37-18, the Titan wrestlers were pumped and focused. 101lb Hugo Miyamoto and 114lb Hiroyuki Sen both got precious pins to lead the Titans by 10 points. Though getting pinned, Jedidiah Schmitz showed great improvement against his Mustang opponent to stay in the match a lot longer than their previous encounter. 127lb Luke Shane stayed aggressive through the entire match to score 4 more points for technical superiority. Strategically, St. Mary’s forfeited 133lb against ASIJ’s best wrestler and bumped Nathanial Twohig up to 139lb. The strategy was successful as Nathaniel caught his opponent, who had been very defensive throughout the entire match, with a high altitude fireman’s carry which led straight to a pin; neutralizing the forfeit at 133lb. At 145lb, Kai Sandoval went out very aggressively and wrestled hard. Unfortunately, his opponent injured his elbow in an action sequence and had to forfeit the match. 152lb Kabilan Baskaran was inspirational as he wrestled against the defending Far East champion. Kablian fired shots after shots and contested for every single point. Though his opponent was leading, his fatigue was obvious; allowing Kabilan to slowly catch up on his deficit. Kabilan, who couldn’t score a single takedown on this opponent last month, scored a few legitimate (not lucky) takedowns and counters. In the last 30 seconds, both opponents were getting tired and Kabilan was in a position to upset the match with one more fireman’s carry takedown, but in the end, his opponent’s experience caught Kabilan’s mistake of staying on his knees after a failed shot and took Kabilan to his back for a pin. But, the match certainly gave St. Mary’s a boost and now, Kabilan Baskaran’s name is on the list of potential candidates to win Far East. At 160lb, Luke Yamada, who won the Beast of the East last week as a first year wrestler, dominated his match. While a win was enough, Luke wanted to secure the pin for his team and attempted his arm bars and cradles to come out of the match with a 5 point pin for the team. Junior, Roman Leyko, finished off the match with his signature left side attacks and the St. Mary’s signature leg lace to secure a technical superiority. With that, the Titans had scored enough points to upset the Mustangs 33-25 even with the forfeits at 189lb and 215lb.
St. Mary’s, ASIJ, and Kinnick finished the Kanto league dual with all a 4-1 record for a 3-way split for the Kanto league title. St. Mary’s will be tested again at the Kanto Tournament finals on January 23 at CAJ and at the Far East Wrestling Tournament at Kinnick from Jan. 29-31.
“We did not look promising last week [at the dual against Yokota], but with this performance on Saturday, I think our name is back in the hat,” explained Coach Yabui of the potential the team has at defending their Far East titles.