Postseason's in the air in the Pacific
A seemingly endless string of possibilities loom regarding which teams might play in the Nov. 7 Far East Division I championship, with two weeks left in the Pacific’s high school football regular season.
John Seevers isn’t dwelling too much on all the debate regarding head-to-head results, point differentials and other playoff mumbo-jumbo. The American School In Japan coach says he’s just focusing on the present.
“One game at a time,” he said of Friday’s game at Nile C. Kinnick, which kicks off at 7 p.m. at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field. “That’s what we’re focusing on. We need to keep winning. That’s all we’re concerned with.”
Still, that four teams remain in the hunt for the visitor’s spot in the title game at Kubasaki is “pretty cool” in Seevers’ eyes. His Mustangs are eligible for the D-I title for the first time, since this is the first season they’re playing a full D-I schedule.
ASIJ at Kinnick opens the last stretch of D-I regular-season games. Seoul American at Kubasaki follows Saturday. ASIJ at Kadena ends the regular season on Oct. 30. All three games have an impact on who will play for the championship.
This weekend also signals the start of championship week for DODDS schools in Japan, Okinawa and Korea, where district finals in volleyball, tennis and cross country are on the docket.
-- Chloe Byrd and John Newton of Seoul American hope to outdistance Seoul Foreign’s Addison Smith and Grace Charnesky in the Korea season-ending cross-country finals at International Christian School of Uijongbu on Saturday.
Seoul Foreign was the highest Korea finisher in last weekend’s Asia-Pacific Invitational at John F. Kennedy High School on Guam, sixth in boys and second in girls. Seoul American set the pace among DODDS schools in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference.
-- Yokota’s Daniel Galvin and Kinnick’s Arlene Avalos run their final league meets in the Kanto Plain cross country finals on the lower courses at Tama Hills Recreation Center on Saturday, the girls a 2.1-mile course and the boys a 2.9-miler. Kinnick won the DODDS Japan finals team titles last Saturday at Misawa and American School In Japan the Asia-Pacific team titles on Guam.
-- For the first time in eight years, Nile C. Kinnick appears vulnerable entering the DODDS Japan girls volleyball tournament at Yokota. Robert D. Edgren, unbeaten against DODDS opponents this season, looms as the favorite along with Matthew C. Perry, which has lost to Kinnick and Zama but has beaten them and all other DODDS foes as well.
“I think we have the potential to finally take the title as long as we stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve,” Perry middle blocker Lebet Erhart said.
Being unbeaten “doesn’t mean anything,” Eagles centerpiece player Kalean Middleton said. “I will call my team undefeated if we win DODDS and Far East” Nov. 2-5 at Yokota. “I’m not claiming we have those wins in the bag; we had that mentality last year and look what happened.”
Edgren lost in the finals of both the DODDS Japan and Far East tournaments a year ago.
-- Tennis also takes the stage in two Japan tournaments, the DODDS Japan finals at Yokota this weekend, followed by the Kanto Plain finals at the Shirako Tennis Complex in Chiba Prefecture.
For players such as Juan Borga, a St. Mary’s senior who took singles bronze and doubles silver at the DODDS Far East tournament last November, the Kanto finals serve as an important tune-up for Far East, which will be held once again next month at Kadena.
“Far East is harder since it takes place over a longer period” than the one-day Kanto finals, Borga said. “But the Kanto tournament is important to test our abilities and decisions on the courts during good and bad times.”
District tournaments migrate from Japan this week to Korea and Okinawa next week.
The Okinawa district doubles and mixed doubles tennis tournaments take place Monday and Tuesday at Kubasaki. Korea’s tennis tournaments are slated for Oct. 30, Blue Division at Seoul Foreign and Red at Chadwick International.
“The competition in KAIAC is really tough this year, greater than what we even face at Far East,” Seoul American’s top boys singles seed Nick Gagnet said. “Some of us play three matches in a day, which really prepares us.”
-- And the KAIAC Blue volleyball tournaments conclude the district finals period, girls Oct. 29-30 at Seoul American and Oct. 30-31 at Humphreys.