NIIGATA, Niigata (August 2-3) – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) high school rolled 5-2 over four-time defending champion Kasumigaura (Ibaraki) high school to win its first-ever team title at the high school (freestyle) wrestling national championships.
Hanasaki Tokuharu won its first three duals through the quarterfinals 7-0, then slowed a bit with a 6-1 triumph over Ginan Kogyo (Gifu) in the semifinals. In the championship final, Hanasaki wrestlers won in the first four weight categories on their way to a 5-2 triumph.
It was the first national championship title for the Saitama school, only eight years after its founding. It was also the first title for Hanasaki Tokuharu after four previous trips to the championship final.
"We finally won the championship" said head coach Takuya Takasaka. "I thought the final would be against Urasoe Kogyo or Kasumigaura. When I saw it was going to be Kasumigaura, I was worried a bit since we lost to them twice in regional competitions this spring."
There was no cause for worry, however, as the Saitama wrestlers won the first four bouts to secure the team title.
The wins included a 2-0 triumph over Asia cadet champion Rei Higuchi at 55kg by 2011 cadet world bronze medalist Rinya Nakamura, who was named the outstanding wrestler of the team tourney.
Yushi Tanabe, a former junior high school national champion making his high school debut, posted a win at 66kg to clinch the victory for Hanasaku Tokuharu.
The third-place trophies went to Shimabara (Nagasaki) high school, which will host next year's national sports festival, and Ginan Kogyo.
Defending champion Kasumigaura edged national invitational champion Urasoe Kogyo (Okinawa), 4-3, in the quarterfinals.