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28th National Middle School Student Championships (2017-8-6)

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This second biggest sumo tournament at Middle School level took place today at the Kokugikan Stadium, and features 3 categories - Lightweight, Open Weight and Team competition.

Open Weight Competition

Winner - Mukainakano Shingo (向中野 真豪, Tottori)

Runner-Up - Yamamoto Takeru (山本 剛瑠, Mie)

Semi-Finals - Kume Kiyoshi (粂 貞, Yamagata)
Semi-Finals - Ito Yasuki (伊藤 寧, Chiba)

Quarter-Finals - Ezure Haruki (江連 春樹, Ibaraki)
Quarter-Finals - Nobehara Toma (延原 闘真, Osaka)
Quarter-Finals - Ochiai Tetsuya (落合 哲也, Tottori)
Quarter-Finals - Takei Sakutaro (武井 朔太郎, Shizuoka)


Lightweight Competition

Winner - Kawakami Ryusho (川上 竜昌, Kumamoto)

Runner-Up - Mizunuma Waku (水沼 湧, Ehime)

Semi-Finals - Yamashita Tatsuma (山下 立真, Ishikawa)
Semi-Finals - Inoue Goshi (井ノ上 豪志, Wakayama)

Quarter-Finals - Banba Yuta (番場 裕太, Kanagawa)
Quarter-Finals - Soma Ryosuke (相馬 良亮, Aomori)
Quarter-Finals - Kato Masaki (加藤 真基, Tokyo)
Quarter-Finals - Matsunaga Hayato (松永 颯斗, Gifu)


Team Competition

Winner - Team Kumamoto

Runner-Up - Team Ishikawa

Semi-Finals - Team Tochigi
Semi-Finals - Team Tottori

Quarter-Finals - Team Tokyo
Quarter-Finals - Team Kochi
Quarter-Finals - Team Miyagi
Quarter-Finals - Team Kagawa



It just so happens that 7 of the top 8 in the open weight competition are familiar names from their Wanpaku days, the only one who isn''t is the big and powerful Mukainakano Shingo (向中野 真豪), and he went on to win the whole thing. However, that is not to say that he isn't a big name from his primary school days, as Mukainakano is actually a 2-time Primary School Yokozuna, he's just never appeared at the Wanpaku Tournament. The same is true for his then Ise (Mie) compatriot Kakuda Toraki (角田 虎紀), who is also a Primary School Yokozuna. Apparently, this is because their club chose not to enter the Wanpaku qualifiers in Mie for various reasons.

As such, Mukainakano winning the tournament is no surprise at all, as he was one of the favourites today. What was surprising though, is the fact that he's now representing Tottori instead of Mie, which suggests that he's moved there to receive a better education / sumo education, as Tottori is home to one of the best high schools for sumo in the country - Tottori Johoku High School, where the newly-crowned High School Yokozuna is from. A lot of the contestants today have moved to a different prefecture since primary school, including the still 1st years Narita Rikido and Sosorufu, yes, THE Narita Rikido and THE Sosorufu. Speaking of, Narita Rikido looked very impressive today, including winning a belt battle against 3rd year Yoshioka Yudai, which is no mean feat. He's now at a higher level compared to his long time rival Uchida Kyota, so expect to see Narita become Middle School Yokozuna in 2 years' time.

The person who stopped Narita today was runner-up Yamamoto Takeru, who also beat Narita in their team match, though Mie went on to lose 2-1 to Tottori. Yamamoto has had some very impressive wins today, including against the much bigger Ito Yasuki in the semi-final. The only non-3rd year in the top 8 is 2nd year Ochiai Tetsuya, who is one of my favourite rikishi from his year group. He's kinda similar to Kodama Hayato in the sense that he's got good power and skills, along with a rikishi's body. The difference is, Ochiai is always there or thereabouts but not quite.

In the lightweight competition, Kawakami Ryusho showed great skills today to win the yusho. It says a lot that Team Kumamoto put him in the last position on the team, which he repaid by winning some very important bouts for the team today. It was nice to see Aomori's Soma Ryusuke and Gifu's Matsunaga Hayato getting some more spotlight again, as they are part of the reason why their year group is my favourite one. To see Soma's strength, please take a look at 47:12 in this video, and for Matsunaga's skill, 23:55 in this video.

Team Kumamoto finally broke their curse of being perpetual runners-up earlier this year in the 7th Hakuho Cup, and they have now gone on to win this tournament as well. I was puzzled as to how on earth Udo Junior Sumo Club, with their team of all-stars failed to win the National Club Championships back in 2013. Now I know. Honda Gotaro nearly always bottles his potential when it really matters, while Hanaoka Masaki, despite being a 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna, is VERY inconsistent, as he has shown today. Though luckily for them, every time Hanaoka failed to win their opening bout, the very powerful Kawazoe Fuma (former Primary School Yokozuna and still in his 2nd year) and today's lightweight champion Kawakami Ryusho were always able to come up with the goods to win the match 2-1. This was also the case in the final.

On paper though, Team Tottori were probably the favourite for today, as their team was made up of Mukainakano Shingo, Narita Rikido and Ochiai Tetsuya. They had strong showings all the way through the tournament, but in the semi-final against Team Ishikawa, the 2-year age gap was a bit too much for 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna and last year's Primary School Yokozuna Narita Rikido; while Ochiai Tetsuya, despite being on the front foot in the deciding bout, fell victim to an utchari. Hence the comment "there or thereabouts but not quite".

I was supporting Team Tokyo today, which was led by Tachikawa Renseikan's Gohara Takatoshi, who is a college senpai to Yoshikaze. The team, which was made up of Tachikawa Renseikan's Ichikawa Taiyo (市川 太陽), Komatsuryu Dojo's Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼) and Mitaka Sumo Club's Hanafusa Kai (花房 海). They did very well to reach the quarter-finals, and 2nd year Hanafusa won his fair share of deciding bouts along the way. One of the highlights from today was a group of kids from Komatsuryu Dojo, who were sitting together near one of the entrances, shouting TSU-BA-SA, TO-CHI-GI (Kitano Soma) and YU-U-DAI (Yoshioka Yudai) etc. at the top of their voices whenever a club-mate was involved in a bout. They'll probably be shouting SA-KA-I this time next year :-)


Edit: Many oyakatas and rikishis were there in the Kokugikan, presumably to scout out potential new recruits, including Sadogatake-oyakata (former Kotonowaka) and Naruto-oyakata (former Kotooshu)

Edited by mikawa
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The weekend of the nephews: Kawakami (3rd year, 182cm, 67kg)  that of Onoe-oyakata (and younger brother of Ryuko), with the double crown, light weight and team, in this the national prefectures middle school students championships, to have a full name to distinguish it from the main championships where the middle school yokozuna is crownedgirded. Old results:

Kawakami: "Like uncle, I want to do a sumo where I make best use of speed." He started sumo in nursery school, but: "Unlike my brother, I don't have the power to thrust out. I'd like to enter ozumo, but first of all I want to train at high school." His local stronghold, Buntoku high is where he wants to go.


Edited by Akinomaki
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