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New Balance Nationals and Record-Breaking Times Nationwide at Japanese High School Regionals

The New Balance Nationals Outdoor was the weekend's big high school meet in the U.S.A., but from Thursday through Monday regions across Japan also held their qualifying meets for the July 29 - Aug. 2 National High School Track and Field Championships in Yamagata. Performances were at a high level across the board, with at least eight meet records nationwide in distance events.

Five girls broke 4:20 in the 1500 m, with Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) leading the way with a 4:09.67 meet record to win the Tohoku Region. Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) was the fastest Japanese girl, winning the Kinki Region title in 4:18.32. On the boys' side, four broke 3:50 in the 1500 m, three of them in the Kinki Region meet. Yusuke Takahashi (Hyogo H.S.) took the Kinki title in 3:46.86.

In the girls' 3000 m, five girls including both Ekarare and Tanaka were under 9:05 nationwide. Ekarare and Tanaka both doubled with 3000 m wins, but the fastest time came from Tabitha Kamau (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) with a 9:00.70 meet record to win the South Kyushu Region, narrowly outrunning Mikuni Yada (Luther Gakuin H.S.) whose 9:01.53 was also under the old meet record and ranked her ahead of Tanaka as the fastest Japanese girl in the country.

Only three boys, all Kenyan, broke 14:00 in the 5000 m, with David Gure (Sera H.S.) bettering Charles Nijioka (Kurashiki H.S.) by 0.31 seconds to win the Chugoku title in 13:51.88. Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada H.S.) was the fastest Japanese boy nationwide, winning the Tohoku Region in 14:06.57. According to some research by the excellent Ekiden / Rikujo website, as of the end of Regionals 473 high school boys nationwide now have sub-15 bests for 5000 m, ten of them sub-14. For girls, 512 high schoolers nationwide have sub-10 bests for 3000 m, four sub-9.

The steeplechase wasn't part of the program for the girls' regional meets, but in the boys' 3000 mSC three cleared 9:00. Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) topped the list with a solid 8:31.30 meet record to win the Chugoku Region, with Yuki Nagayama (Suijo H.S.) running a meet record 8:57.58 for the win in the North Kanto Region.

Overall, how did the top performances at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet compare to the top times at Japan's regional high school meets? Like this. Click to enlarge.

With the exception of the javelin, throws remain Japan's biggest weak spot overall, with boys' sprints and relays and distances 800 m and up for girls and 1500 m and up for boys its biggest strengths. Looking in more detail at how the regional high school distance event times in Japan compared to the marks at the New Balance Nationals meet, while few of the the distances were exactly the same the updated 2017 IAAF Scoring Tables give an indication of rough equivalency. In many cases the talent pool at NBNO was divided between multiple events. For example, where Japanese girls ran only 3000 m, at NBNO they were split between the 2-Mile, 5000 m and 2000 mSC.

Accounting for IAAF equivalent times, between the 1-Mile, 2-Mile, 5000 m and 2000 mSC, NBNO Boys' 1-Mile winner Cole Johnson (Rockford) was the only American athlete male or female who would have placed in the top ten nationwide in Japan in their event over the weekend. His winning 4:11.09 mile was worth a 3:52.70 for 1500 m on the IAAF tables, a time that would have ranked him 9th in Japan. NBNO Boys' 2000 mSC winner Shane Henderson (Afton) was just outside the Japanese top ten, his 5:54.77 worth a 9:10.77 for 3000 mSC versus the 9:09.39 that 10th-ranked Japanese high schooler Yuki Sakamoto (Suma Gakuen) ran to win the Kinki Region.

NBNO Girls' 1-Mile winner Katelyn Tuohy (Stony Point) was the top-performing American girl relative to Japanese performances, her 4:45.95 worth a 4:25.82 for 1500 m, a short way back from the 4:21.52 run by 10th-ranked Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin) for 2nd in the South Kanto Region.

The winning times in distance events at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet, equivalent marks, fastest times on the weekend in Japanese meets and fastest by Japanese runners where the top mark was set by a Kenyan athlete:

NBNO Girls' 1-Mile Championship
Katelyn Tuohy (Stony Point) - 4:45.95
1500 m equivalent: 4:25.82
Japanese Regionals Girls' 1500 m
Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei) - 4:09.67
top Japanese time: Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo) - 4:18.32

NBNO Boys' 1-Mile Championship
Cole Johnson (Rockford) - 4:11.09
1500 m equivalent: 3:52.70
Japanese Regionals Boys' 1500 m
Yusuke Takahashi (Hyogo) - 3:46.86

NBNO Girls' 2-Mile Championship
Kelsey Chmiel (Greenfield) - 10:10.44
3000 m equivalent: 9:27.84
NBNO Girls' 2000 mSC Championship
Alexandra Harris (Stony Point) - 6:45.32
3000 m equivalent: 9:28.06
NBNO Girls' 5000 m Championship
Jessica Lawson (Addison) - 16:38.54
3000 m equivalent: 9:38.63
Japanese Regionals Girls' 3000 m
Tabitha Kamau (Kamimura Gakuen) - 9:00.70
top Japanese time: Mikuni Yada (Luther Gakuin) - 9:01.53

NBNO Boys' 5000 m Championship
Ryan Oosting (Arlington) - 14:36.13
NBNO Boys' 2-Mile Championship
Daniel Bernal (El Paso) - 9:17.09
5000 m equivalent: 14:46.87
Japanese Regionals Boys' 5000 m
David Gure (Sera) - 13:51.88
top Japanese time: Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada) - 14:06.57

NBNO Boys' 2000 mSC Championship
Shane Henderson (Afton) - 5:54.77
3000 mSC equivalent: 9:10.07
Japanese Regionals Boys' 3000 mSC
Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki) - 8:31.30
top Japanese time: Yuki Nagayama (Suijo) - 8:57.58

A detailed breakdown of the top ten times nationwide in distance events at the weekend's Japanese high school regional meets:

Girls' 1500 m

  1. 4:09.67 - MR - Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 1st, Tohoku Region
  2. 4:16.80 - MR - Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 1st, N. Kyushu Region
  3. 4:17.39 - Naomi Muthoni (Sera H.S.) - 1st, Chugoku Region
  4. 4:18.32 - Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 1st, Kinki Region
  5. 4:19.17 - Yume Goto (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 2nd, Kinki Region
  6. 4:21.06 - Helena Mai Lindsay (Kanazawa Civic H.S.) - 1st, S. Kanto Region
  7. 4:21.06 - Tabitha Kamau (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 1st, S. Kyushu Region
  8. 4:21.14 - Hikari Onishi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 3rd, Kinki Region
  9. 4:21.45 - Yuna Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 1st, Hokushinetsu Region
  10. 4:21.52 - Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.) - 2nd, S. Kanto Region
Boys' 1500 m
  1. 3:46.86 - Yusuke Takahashi (Hyogo H.S.) - 1st, Kinki Region
  2. 3:48.30 - Hideki Nomimura (Osaka H.S.) - 2nd, Kinki Region
  3. 3:48.68 - Benuel Mogeni (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 1st, N. Kyushu Region
  4. 3:49.18 - Waweru Nganga (Kokoku H.S.) - 3rd, Kinki Region
  5. 3:50.03 - Takuro Miura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 4th, Kinki Region
  6. 3:50.16 - Taiki Inoue (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 5th, Kinki Region
  7. 3:50.76 - Tsubasa Nojima (Kokoku H.S.) - 6th, Kinki Region
  8. 3:51.76 - Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) - 1st, Chugoku Region
  9. 3:52.75 - Tatsuya Iyoda (Funairi H.S.) - 2nd, Chugoku Region
  10. 3:53.11 - Takumi Kannen (Nishiwaki Kogyo HS.) - 7th, Kinki Region

Girls' 3000 m

  1. 9:00.70 - MR - Tabitha Kamau (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 1st, S. Kyushu Region
  2. 9:00.78 - Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 1st, Tohoku Region
  3. 9:01.52 - Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 1st, N. Kyushu Region
  4. 9:01.53  (MR) - Mikuni Yada (Luther Gakuin H.S.) - 2nd, S. Kyushu Region
  5. 9:02.95 - Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 1st, Kinki Region
  6. 9:07.03 - MR - Yuna Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 1st, Hokushinetsu Region
  7. 9:07.46  (MR) - Mary Shipuko (Kaishi Kokusai H.S.) - 2nd, Hokushinetsu Region
  8. 9:09.50 - Hikari Onishi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 2nd, Kinki Region
  9. 9:09.93 - MR - Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.)  - 1st, S. Kanto Region
  10. 9:11.78 - Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 3rd, Kinki Region

Boys' 5000 m

  1. 13:51.88 - David Gure (Sera H.S.) - 1st, Chugoku Region
  2. 13:52.19 - Charles Nijioka (Kurashiki H.S.) - 2nd, Chugoku Region
  3. 13:56.42 - MR - Benuel Mogeni (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 1st, N. Kyushu Region
  4. 14:06.57 - Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 1st, Tohoku Region
  5. 14:07.99 - Peter Mwangi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 2nd, Tohoku Region
  6. 14:13.82 - Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 1st, Hokushinetsu Region
  7. 14:16.88 - Keita Inoue (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 2nd, Hokushinetsu Region
  8. 14:17.17 - Daiki Kishimoto (Sanjo H.S.) - 3rd, Hokushinetsu Region
  9. 14:18.09 - Tatsunori Oike (Nagano Nichidai H.S.) - 4th, Hokushinetsu Region
  10. 14:18.36 - Koki Maruyama (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 5th, Hokushinetsu Region
Boys' 3000 m Steeplechase
  1. 8:31.30 - MR - Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) - 1st, Chugoku Region
  2. 8:41.27 - Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 1st, Tohoku Region
  3. 8:57.58 - MR - Yuki Nagayama (Suijo H.S.) - 1st, N. Kanto Region
  4. 9:00.08 - Ryota Sasaya (Narita H.S.) - 1st, S. Kanto Region
  5. 9:01.67 - Arashi Yamamoto (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 1st, Hokushinetsu Region
  6. 9:01.82 - Kosei Hitomi (Sano Nichidai H.S.) - 2nd, N. Kanto Region
  7. 9:04.45 - Daisuke Kato (Hitachi Kogyo H.S.) - 3rd, N. Kanto Region
  8. 9:07.14 - Jun Hasegawa (Ueda Nishi H.S.) - 2nd, Hokushinetsu Region
  9. 9:09.10 - Shintaro Nakazono (Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 2nd, S. Kanto Region
  10. 9:09.39 - Yuki Sakamoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 1st, Kinki Region
© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


TokyoRacer said…
Surprised at how strong the Japanese 1500m boys are.
Anonymous said…
This is a tad bit disingenuous considering most of the top talent was split at the Brooks PR invite the same weekend, including 3 4:00.xx milers. The mile winner at NBON would've likely finished outside the top 10 at the other meet.
Generally a very interesting comparison though, that being said.
Brett Larner said…
The NBNO marks are included as a benchmark for the Japanese performances, not as an exhaustive review of American high school athletics. One of my regrets about JRN is not having the resources to adequately cover Japanese high school athletics, let alone the U.S.

It's worth noting that although NBNO may not have been a comprehensive representation of every aspect of U.S. high school athletics, for both boys and girls a majority of events there had better marks than in all the Japanese regional meets combined. Time permitting it will be interesting to compare performances at the Japanese National High School Championships to those at the U.S, equivalent(s).
Bruce said…
Basing a profile of USA talent on one meet is a bit risky. Probably the best of 50 State meets is more equivalent to the best of the 47 prefectural championships, in terms of breadth of participation and position in the seasonal training cycle. One would have to consider the several post-season summer vacation invitationals across the USA to get closer to the equivalent of the 10 late June Japanese regional qualifying meets. The vast majority of American HS T&F athletes shut down their training come June.

In your comparison charts, did you account for the heavier weights that Japanese boys throw?
In the 1500m to 5k races, both countries have really different high school configurations, so it is hard to profile them in fair comparison. Japanese boys run 3k steeple and 5k all year; these events, along with 3k for girls and 400m hurdles, are novelty events in the States.

Readers can go to to compare the best HS 2016 marks in both countries (along with Canada). Toggle to see 2017, but no Japanese marks are yet entered for this season.

As in the several past years, I will be uploading the All Japan HS Championship results on . Brett, you are right to say that keeping on top of the High School track scene is labor intensive. Japan has great monthly magazines full of T&F news and coverage of high school results, but there still is no publicly accessible centralized web clearinghouse for high school meet results.

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