Written by Tatsu Matsumoto
Photography by Mr. Krcelic
On February 17th, 2016, the Titans wrestling team coached by Coach. Yabui, made history. Success is all that this year’s team knows, winning all major tournaments which include both Far East Individual & Dual Tournament, Kanto Tournament, and the Kanto League for the first time in St. Mary’s history. Beside these history making performances, the team successfully brought home the other major titles of the season, which consists of: Beast of the East, Yokota Invitational and The CAJ Invitational. Captain, Kazuho Kawashima awarded the Outstanding Wrestler at Far East and was also named Athlete of the Year by Stars and Stripes. This wrestling team of 2016 was record breaking, and achieved results no other wrestling team in St. Mary’s history has accomplished.
This year the team had an astonishing number of six wrestlers ending the season as Far East Champions. This was for the second consecutive year, which is a first in St.Mary’s history and also a Far East record. This year the individual champions were: Rio Lemkuil (115lb), Chang Young Lee (122lb), Ryo Osawa (129lb), Ryan Vasconcellos (135lb), Itsuki Shibahara (141lb), and Kazuho Kawashima (148lb). Apart from these six, Eshan Singhi (101lb) and Tatsu Matsumoto (108lb) placed second, Mitchell Krcelic (168lb) placed fourth, and Austin Koslow (158lb) placed sixth. Five wrestlers also qualified for the wall of fame, which includes Eshan Singhi, Rio Lemkuil, Austin Koslow, Mitchell Krcelic, and Shane Koslow. The three seniors—Ryan Vasconcellos, Itsuki Shibahara, and Kazuho Kawashima—have qualified for the wall in the past and will be on it soon.
Responding to the question, “Any comments on this year’s team?”, Coach Yabui started by talking about last year’s team. “ Well last year, I thought it was unbelievable. Having eight guys in the finals and coming back with six champion was significant. Six champions is a Far East tie record (Yokata in 70’ and Kubasaki in 90’) and that was unbelievable.” Then he continued,
“Looking back at this season, what I thought would be unbelievable was now believable, and this year really was unbelievable. It’s hard to comment on a season which accomplished something that nobody has ever done before in school history. No one has won all four titles (Kanto League, Kanto Tournament, and Far East Individual & Duals), which itself is a huge accomplishment, and it’s very personal for me because that accomplishment was very close to being achieved when I was wrestling in my senior year.”
He then talked about the Kanto Tournament.
“We won Kanto Tournament and it was another personal thing for me, since the last time we won it was 2006, my first year as an assistant coach under my coach, Coach Rhodes and that was his last year, and I have good and bad memories of that year.”
At the end, Coach Yabui finished with “This year was very special and I still can’t get a good grasp of this season’s results. It’s a bar we can set, but it’s a bar that will be very difficult to break.”
These significant records wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of many people. Wrestlers increased their techniques during the winter holiday with the help from SMIS alumni. Parents were also a big part of our accomplishment because of all the healthy food and support they gave during matches in all tournaments, both home and away, giving the team a strong moral support. Nurse McCoy, our school nurse, helped the team out by giving us a presentation based on nutrition and provided the wrestlers with knowledge on how to lose weight. With her help, wrestlers were able to cut down their weight healthfully. The team’s manager, Saran Mitsuhashi, also supported the team significantly, sacrificing her own time, coming to every practice and taking care of the team for the past three years. Keeping track of everyone’s weight, help running the tournaments, ordering team shirts, she can’t be thanked her enough. Since she will be taking off to college, the team will not have her next year, but we know that she is always cheering for us. Last but not least, the coaches, without them, the team could not have won. Coach Yabui, our head coach, being a three time Far East champion himself, has produced fifteen Far East champions in the past three years, and finally led the team to a goal that all teams aim for—to win both Far East titles. Coach Harlow, coaching the heavyweight class, helped out the big wrestlers, teaching them skills and moves. Being a former head coach, he also has great experiences (leading the team to win two Individual and two duals at the Far East) that helped out the team. Coach Miller, who is a former heavyweight wrestler on the St.Mary’s Wrestling Team, class of 2013, also helped out the heavyweights. Only a year after he graduated, he also filmed every match that the Titans wrestlers had. Because of this, all wrestlers had a chance to watch their wrestling matches and to see and fix what they are were wrong. Other coaches include, Coach Han, Coach Langley, Coach Dunaway, Coach Yoshida, and Coach Koslow: all their efforts are recognized and appreciated. With a lot experience, these coaches watched the wrestlers during practice and fixed the mistakes that they saw, which is hard to do with only one coach. The program is very lucky to have many coaches to help out.
Having had such great support, the team paid back by dominating all the tournaments. At Far East, the twelve wrestlers showed quality to the coaches and parents, and were rewarded for their hard work. From a personal perspective, It was such an honor to wrestle at Far East in Korea as a Varsity member and being able to participate with such great members. Here are the list of twenty seven wrestlers who were able to work through the intense season without giving up (Listed in the order of light to heavy weight):
Seniors: Ryan Vasconcellos, Itsuki Shibahara, and Kazuho Kawashima (Captain).
Juniors: Eshan Singhi, Takayuki Sanada, Chang Young Lee, Ryo Osawa,
Tatsuo Tanaka, Joonseo Bae, Mitchell Krcelic, and Shane Koslow.
Sophomores:Tatsu Matsumoto, Rio Lemkuil, Dai Matsumoto, Jonathan Goff,
Ryo Sawa, Antonio Croce, Jihoon Seo, Gregory Tanaka, Alex
Patton, Nilay Hingarh and Leon Araya.
Freshmen: Jeong Pyeong Lee, Vithal Palriwala, Nishant Chanda, Won Hyun
Kang, and Austin Koslow .
Finally, Chang Young Lee and Ryo Osawa were announced to be captains next year and, we hope the team will keep the momentum and make a great success again.