H A W A I I _ S U M O T O R I

Kyodo News Service

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Musashimaru in
tie for lead
at spring tourney

OSAKA -- Ozeki duo Takanonami and Musashimaru both turned on the power Wednesday to move into a two-way share of the lead at 9-2 on the 11th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanonami came in aggressively against rising star Miyabiyama in a battle of 8-2 wrestlers at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, quickly locking up the arms of the No. 7 maegashira and driving him backward over the straw bails and into the dirt for a convincing win.

Hawaiian-born giant Musashimaru had little trouble making it seven wins out of seven against No. 3 maegashira Kyokushuzan, 5-6, as he steamrollered the tricky Mongolian grappler out of the ring with a couple of jolts straight from the charge.

Yokozuna Takanohana's withdrawal from the 15-day meet on Wednesday morning leaves the spring tourney looking like a two-horse race between the two ozeki as No. 9 maegashira Chiyotenzan slipped to 8-3 after a loss to komusubi Tochiazuma, who improved to 8-3.

Wakanohana pulled out earlier in the week with a thigh injury and Akebono sat out with back trouble, leaving the tournament without a yokozuna representative and causing embarrassment to the Japan Sumo Association, which issued an apology for the situation on Wednesday.

Chiyotaikai, who had dropped seven of his first 10 bouts in a nightmare ozeki debut, was also sidelined after breaking his nose in a loss to Musashimaru on Tuesday, handing third-ranked Terao a walkover victory -- just his third of the meet.

Fifth-ranked maegashira Tochinonada profited from Takanohana's absence for a victory by default to boost his record to 8-3 and become the first wrestler awarded back-to-back walkovers since the system was introduced in 1928.

Meanwhile, veteran Akinoshima slapped down fellow komusubi Dejima, 5-6, straight from the face-off to post his eighth win and join four other wrestlers just one win off the pace.

Sekiwake Kotonowaka continued to struggle, however, allowing No. 4 maegashira Higonoumi, 5-6, to muscle him out and falling to a disappointing 4-7.

Results in Scoreboard

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