in Japan

Wrestling competes at Kanto Finals

CAJ's wrestling team had a strong showing at the Kanto Finals at St. Mary's on Saturday. Only three wrestlers competed officially for the Knights due to injury, but Safari and Natasha also wrestled exhibition matches.

Tai (122 pounds) was unable to pick up a win in either of his matches. However, Joe (108) and Jordan (115) both made the finals in their weight classes. 

Joe took second after being pinned by his St. Mary's opponent in the final. However, head coach Morris Yaegashi has seen Joe score some good points on the same opponent in the past and thinks he can beat his St. Mary's rival at Far East.

“Joe is tough and physical, and he’s got a nice drive if he can get in on the legs," Yaegashi said. "He just needs to figure out how to break the opponent down better so he can get in on the legs without getting his arms caught to get countered on [his move].”

Jordan, meanwhile, had a spectacular comeback against his own St. Mary's rival to place first his weight class. He was down seven points after the first round, but recovered to pin his opponent in the second round.

Jordan also won the inaugural John Michael Kwak award, which is awarded to "the champion that demonstrated the most determination, stamina and good sportsmanship overall," per the St. Mary's coach. The award's namesake is a former St. Mary's wrestler who passed away from cancer last August at the age of 29.

Safari and Natasha competed in the same exhibition weight group and placed first and second, respectively, out of four wrestlers. It was Safari's first meet of the season after struggling with a knee injury for the past couple of months.

Yaegashi was impressed by both Safari's and Natasha's performances. He remembered a specific moment from Natasha's first match against Yokota that showed a lot of patience and awareness.

“Instead of trying to muscle a move, she was listening really well," Yaegashi said. "I told her to get behind, she got behind. When I told her to do a leg lace, she immediately went to a leg lace and rolled her opponent over three times to win the match.”

For their final competition of the season, the Knights' official wrestlers will compete in the Far East Tournament at Kinnick from January 31 to February 3.
Apply to CAJ