In an event surpassed only by The Beast of the East so far this season, 11 schools met to do battle at the Yokota Invitational Wrestling Tournament. This is one that really gave the Titans a taste of what to expect when they arrive in Osan, Korea for the Far East Championship in February.
In typical fashion, it boiled down to St. Mary’s and Kinnick for the title but Kadena’s resurgence in their wrestling program continues to keep them in the mix. Sprinkle in some strong performances from Kubasaki and this really does start to look like “Far East-Lite” for our boys. At the end of the day (one that had a few surprises in store for our Titans) St. Mary’s won the tournament with 72 points to the Red Devil’s 64 and Kadena was right on their heels with 60. It was our second victory in a major in-season invitational this season, the first being the “Beast of the East” hosted earlier this season at Kinnick.
Coach Yabui’s grapplers surprised him once again by winning a big tournament with two empty weight classes. However, the win came with an unwanted surprise as Chang Young Lee suffered his first set-back in a Titan singlet and gave up gold to his Kinnick opponent. Titan wrestlers finished:
108 – Tatsu Matsumoto – 4th
115 – Rio Lemkuil – 1st
122- Chang Young Lee – 2nd
129 – Ryo Osawa – 1st
135 – Ryan Vaconcellos – 1st
141 – Itsuki Shibahara – 2nd
148 – Kazuho Kawashima – 1st
158 – Austin Koslow – 3rd
168 – Mitchell Krcelic – 4th
215 – Shane Koslow – 2nd
It’s becoming clear that as we move towards the end of the season, the Kanto Championship and Far East will once again be the battle grounds for St. Mary’s and Kinnick to lay claim to bragging rights for another year. The teams have split the Far East Tournament Division I Championships the past two years with St. Mary’s winning the individual and Kinnick the dual meets but the Red Devils haven’t allowed the Titans to hoist the Kanto Championship banner since 2006! The stage is being set for an epic finish to the season. “It’s always going to be a collision course,” said Kinnick’s Dwayne Lyon, who won the 180-pound title on Saturday. “They’re (Titans) tough opponents.”
Coach Yabui said much the same following last week’s win, though he hopes with his regular 101-pounder in the lineup it “won’t be so close. (But) 122 will be important. I’m hoping Chang Young will get his revenge.”
The Titans are now 3 – 0 in Kanto League dual meets with ASIJ and Zama coming up on January 26th and February 3rd, respectively. Although the Titans are in a good position to take the league title away from Kinnick this year, The Kanto Championship at home on February 6th will be the big test.
In addition to having the lead in Kanto League competition, St. Mary’s has also won two in-season invitational events. With this weekend’s impending match-ups against Kinnick at CAJ, winning a third one would be a big boost going into the home stretch of the season!