2014 Wrestling Awards
The 2014 annual HS/MS Wrestling Award Banquet was held Feb. 28 at the Tokyo American Club. Over 90 wrestlers, parents, and supporters attended to celebrate the phenomenal season they had.
Middle School Awards:
Most Improved Wrestler – Dai Matsumoto
Outstanding Wrestler – Rio Lemkuil
Most Inspirational Wrestler – Kento Taira
Coach’s Award – Kaito Taira
Most Valuable Wrestler – Tatsuhito Matsumoto
High School Awards:
Rookie of the Year – Chang Young Lee
Most Inspirational Wrestler – Yong Chul Yoon
Most Improved Wrestler – Kaimi Miyazawa
Outstanding Wrestler – Jeffrey Koo
Coach’s Award – Austin Kiyota
Most Valuable Wrestler – Kentaro Hayashi
Inducted to the Wall of Fame of Wrestling:
Yong Chul Yoon
Kanto All Stars:
Chang Young Lee
Yong Chul Yoon
Chang Young Lee
Yong Chul Yoon
February 15, 2014 – TITANS TAKE BACK FAR EAST!
As they announced the second place team of the individual team champion, 12 Titan wrestlers jumped up and cried with joy. “Before the finals, I knew that the champion team would be Kinnick, Kubasaki, or us. It all depended on how the boys wrestled on the final day,” said Coach Yabui. That is why when Kubasaki with 80 points and Kinnick with 81 points were called for third and second, it claimed the Titans the 2014 Far East Wrestling Individual Champions with 90 points. The team had set 王座奪還 (ouza dakkan) or “Take Back the Championship” as their goal for the season as they were unable to defend their positions last season. They accomplished this in a proud manner. In the dual portion of the tournament, Titans took second place in a very close and tight dual match against Kinnick.
On the first day of wrestling, Titans had 10 wrestlers in the semi-finals, edging Kubasaki and Kinnick with 9. From there, the Titans were able to advance 7 of them in the finals – Chang Young Lee, Kentaro Hayashi, Ryo Osawa, Ryan Vasconcellos, Kazuho Kawashima, Riku Osawa, and Jeffrey Koo – once again topping Kubasaki’s 5 and Kinnick’s 3. However, Kinnick had 7 wrestlers competing for third place which can account for 49 points or even more with the wrestle backs for second place (a wrestler who places third can challenge the runner-up if he had lost to the champion). It was going to be a close battle and the Titans were the only team out of the three who did not have a heavy weight.
Chang Young Lee and Ryo Osawa, as a freshmen, made it all the way to the finals. Chang Young won his first Far East title. Ryo had a tough match against a senior from Kinnick. “Freshmen are not expected to be on varsity or win anything; these two are incredible,” commented Coach Yabui. Kentaro Hayashi, in his third shot at the finals, finally pulled off his win to become the 115lb Champion. Jeffrey Koo won his third Far East title at 180lb and became the fourth 3-time Far East champion for St. Mary’s. He had an additional bonus of being voted the Outstanding Far East Wrestler; sharing it with an Edgren wrestler who tied for the award.
Ryan Vasconcellos had an unlucky match in the finals as he lost to an opponent who has beaten easily throughout the season. In fact, Ryan beat this opponent a few hours later in the dual meet against CAJ with a 7-0 technical fall. However, Ryan wrestled very well in the wrestle back and defended his runner-up position. Kazuho, only a second year wrestler, made it to the finals in one of the most competitive weight classes. He got into the finals with the Edgren wrestler who eventually won the Outstanding Wrestler award with Jeffrey. Kazuho was leading 6-0, until he go countered and pinned. But, like Ryan, he took the challenge of the wrestle back and defended his silver medal.
Co-Captain Kaimi Miyazawa and senior, Yong Chul Yoon both won third place after being defeated by the eventual champions of their respective weight classes. Kaimi pulled off a big upset against his rival from Zama who Kaimi could not beat this season. Kaimi wrestled a very technical and smart match and finally got his revenge for the bronze medal. The only opponents that were better than Yong Chul were the champion and runner-up; he dominated the rest of the competition in this bracket and won his bronze medal fair and square.
Riku Osawa wrestled very tough for three days in one of the toughest weight classes. Because Riku was wrestling up a weight class, all his opponents were at least 1.5 times bigger than him. But, still, he wrestled hard to make it to the finals. Sophomore, Itsuki Shibahara, and rookie Aditya Pundir both wrestled hard and well for their first Far East tournament and earned their places in the tournament.
After taking back the Individual title, the Titans moved on to wrestle the dual portion on the tournament. Being the number one seed, the Titans defeated Guam High School and CAJ to advance to the finals. In the finals, the Titans were defeated by Kinnick by a very small margin. “It’s incredibly difficult – almost a miracle – to win a dual match with two weight classes gone; the boys fought very hard and I’m very proud of every one of them,” said Coach Yabui referring to the unfortunate injury with Yong Chul Yoon the day before rendering the 158lb weight class to be a forfeit on top of not having a heavy weight to start with. “Runner-up is a great achievement too. You have to win your individual tournament to get a good seeding and then win a couple more duals to get to the finals; it’s well deserved,” commended Coach Yabui as the team broke into tears after the defeat.
The tournament also became a memorable one for Coach Yabui. “St. Mary’s team championship featured a bit of Far East meet history. Shu Yabui had won three Far East titles from 2002-04; now in his first year at the Titans’ helm, he became the first former champion to win a team title as a coach.” (Quote from Stars and Stripes; Feb. 14, 2014 “Some Repeat, But Plenty of Upsets As Well”)
Far East Champions:
101 – Chang Young Lee
115 – Kentaro Hayashi
180 – Jeffrey Koo
135 – Ryan Vasconellos
141 – Kazuho Kawashima
122 – Ryo Osawa
148 – Kaimi Miyazawa
158 – Yong Chul Yoon
168 – Riku Osawa
129 – Itsuki Shibahara
108 – Aditya Pindir
First Round: Bye
Second Round: SMIS 56 – Guam 6
Semi-Finals: SMIS 38 – CAJ 23
Finals: KIN 34 – SMIS 28