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Tomoki Yamaguchi Wins 107th Japan Athletics Championships Cross Country Race in Thrilling Finish

Misa Fujii


(Last update: 2024/02/28)

Yamaguchi wins the battle with Igawa and crosses the finish line with a “1” (all photos taken by Misa Fujii)

107th Japan Athletics Championships Cross Country Race Men’s 10km

February 25 @ Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (Fukuoka)
Winner: Tomoki Yamaguchi (Waseda University) 29 minutes 16 seconds
2nd place Ryuto Igawa (Asahi Kasei) 29 minutes 16 seconds
3rd place Yuta Bando (Fujitsu) 29 minutes and 21 seconds
4th place Hiroya Ogikubo (Hiramatsu Hospital) 29 minutes 22 seconds
5th place Hiroto Fujimagari (Toyota Motor Kyushu) 29 minutes 23 seconds
6th place Kota Murayama (GMO Internet Group) 29 minutes 34 seconds
7th place Shota Sugimoto (Commodida) 29 minutes 36 seconds
8th place: Sukuki Tsunuki (Nihon Sports University) 29 minutes and 40 seconds

Waseda University’s Tomonori Yamaguchi (2nd year, Gakuho Ishikawa) won the men’s 10km cross country championship held at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park in Fukuoka on February 25th. This event will also be used to select representatives for the 2024 World Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Belgrade, Serbia on March 30th, and Yamaguchi is very likely to be on the representative list.

Overcoming a dead heat with Waseda senior Ryuto Igawa

Yamaguchi finished second in the Ageo Half Marathon last November with a time of 1 hour 1 minute 16 seconds, earning him the right to compete in the New York City Half Marathon on March 17th. At the Hakone Ekiden at the beginning of the year, he ran the 2nd section of the ace section and finished 4th in the section with a time of 1 hour 6 minutes 31 seconds. He has quickly grown into the team’s ace, surpassing the record held by Yasuyuki Watanabe (current coach of Sumitomo Electric) (1 hour 6 minutes 48 seconds) and breaking the Waseda University record for the first time in 29 years.

However, after the Hakone Ekiden, he was all out. He also participated in the prefectural relay race on January 20th as an anchor for the Fukushima Prefecture team, but was “a little tired.” He then ran the 10,000m at the Waseda University Competition on January 31st and February 17th. He said he had covered 220km the week before this race, and arrived in Fukuoka feeling tired and not feeling well.

At first, I didn’t force my way to the front, but gradually moved to the front of the line.

When the race started, Hiramatsu Hospital’s Yuichiro Ueno jumped out at the beginning, followed by a large group. Yamaguchi didn’t jump too far forward, but was firmly in the lead group. Gradually they moved forward, and at the end of the third lap with 4km remaining, the leaders were Ryuto Igawa (Asahi Kasei), Hiroto Fujimagari (Toyota Motor Kyushu), and Yamaguchi. With 2km remaining, Hiroya Ogikubo (Hiramatsu Hospital) caught up with him, reducing the group to four, but in the end it was a one-on-one battle between Yamaguchi and Igawa. Just before entering the final straight line, Igawa momentarily lost his footing on the ground, but he did not miss the chance to slow down and win the race. The race was settled at 29 minutes and 16 seconds, with no time difference between him and Igawa.

Even before the race, I was aware that Igawa and I would be the two of us in the final race. The pace slowed in the last lap, and I could see that Igawa was saving up for the last lap. He said he didn’t feel like he could win when it came to the final sprint, so he made several attempts at the undulating points. He said that before the start, Igawa jokingly told him, “If you compete at the end, you should give up (the win).” “I had that in mind a little bit, but I felt like I couldn’t give up.The straight line at the end was amazing.” it was fun”.

Igawa (left) and Yamaguchi are playfully saying, “I told you to give up (the championship)!”

This event is also a selection race for the World Cross Country Championships, but if you win you will be given a wildcard ticket to the Japan Championships 10,000m in May, so I had set my goal of winning. “I’m glad we were able to win,” he said with a smile.

Yamaguchi has a desire to compete on the track. He revealed that he participated in this event even though he was preparing for the New York City Half in March, partly to practice for the 10km in preparation for the half marathon, but also with the intention of running the 5,000m again after the half.

Keita Sato: “I want to compete well”

In April, he will become a third year student and will be expected to take on the role of an upperclassman. Are you aware of that? When I asked him about this, he said, “Ever since I entered Waseda University, I’ve always wanted to lead the team, so I’ll continue to lead the team in that direction.” He added that he always beats strong athletes from other universities on the track. He talks about his future and hopes to compete well as an ace in the Ekiden.

I am especially conscious of Keita Sato (2nd year, Rakunan) from Komazawa University. Although Sato is showing success beyond just being a student, Yamaguchi also felt that “I wish I could catch (Sato) this year.” “But to be honest, if you can run at a level like 13 minutes 09 seconds (45, set at an indoor meet in Boston on January 26), I think you’re still above me.” He felt that he had grown and gotten closer, but the gap between him and Sato had widened again. However, he also says that Yamaguchi has felt a big response this February.

At the 6km mark, he also made a gesture to look back.He was wary of Bando’s ability to catch up.

After Hakone, I worked on weight training to overcome my weaknesses, such as my lack of sprint ability to compete against the world, and my lack of confidence to face tough races like this cross-country race. period. He was able to face himself properly, and was fulfilled, saying, “He (Sato) is competing against very high-ranked athletes, but I’m just learning from my juniors, so I think this has been a huge month for my future track and field career.” Show an expression.

A player who can follow in the footsteps of his great seniors.

On the 11th, senior Ifuku Yota (3rd year, Rakunan) won the Nobeoka West Japan Marathon. Yamaguchi says that he was inspired by his senior’s success and wanted to win the title himself. “This is the first time we have won such a big title, so I think it was a great title for both the team and myself.” Yamaguchi mentions that his senior, Suguru Osako (Nike), also won this tournament in his second year of university, and says he was conscious of it. He has a growing desire to take the same steps as his great predecessors and become a player who can compete on the world stage.

Yamaguchi still has a lot of room to grow.I look forward to your future activities.

“Japanese people are starting to be able to run long distances in the 12-minute range (5,000m) and the 26-minute range (10,000m), so I will continue to work hard so that I don’t leave them behind.”

From Waseda’s ace to a player who can compete on the world stage. I am looking forward to the future of Yamaguchi, who has great potential.

2024-02-27 19:23:51

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