The first day of act 3 of Haru is in the books, and the crew wasted no time getting the yusho race into interesting territory. With 4 days left in Osaka, we can count on the scheduling team to make the most out of the race for the cup, and we should see some barn-burner matches in the final days.
I have to give a shout out to Tochinoshin, who defied early indications of a terrible basho, and has been strong at the bottom end of the banzuke, winning his last 4 in a row, and securing kachi-koshi on day 10. His sunset ride is not that far off, but it was great to see him strong and fighting well again.
There are now six rikishi with 7-4 records, and I think day 12 will see several new kachi-koshi records minted. I also note there is a somewhat gentle attempt to funnel a few rikishi to 7-7 records for day 15, but nothing near as obvious as Hatsu or Kyushu.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyomaru – Ichiyamamoto dodges make-koshi with a crucial win over Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru tried for the “Stand him up, pull him down” combo, and failed. Ichiyamamoto pushed strongly into the pull while keeping his balance centered and shoved Chiyomaru out, both end the day 4-7.
Chiyotairyu defeats Nishikigi – The formula failed for Chiyomaru, but paid off for stablemate Chiyotairyu. He used a left forearm strike to raise Nishikigi up, the immediately slapped him down with the right. Chiyotairyu improves to 5-6.
Tochinoshin defeats Terutsuyoshi – Day by day it’s tough to know how Tochinoshin is going to fare. He started this basho looking to be in tough condition, and today we got a reprise of the Georgian bear, and his sky-crane sumo. Once he had a firm two hand hold on Terutsuyoshi, why wouldn’t he just pick him up and lift him out of the ring? Win #8 for Tochinoshin, and he is kachi-koshi for March.
Myogiryu defeats Kagayaki – Myogiryu shut down all attempts by Kagayaki to get any kind of thrusting attack going, and all Kagayaki could do was push against Myogiryu’s body from close range. Myogiryu’s foot work was superior, and kept himself lower, moving Kagayaki to the edge of the ring and tossing him into the front row. Myogiryu improves to 5-6.
Aoiyama defeats Kotokuzan – I counted at least 3 pull down attempts between these two, the second one, initiated by Kotokuzan, left him off balance, and Aoiyama returned the favor. I note with some disappointment we really have not seen Aoiyama fire up the V-Twin this basho, and I have to wonder if he is still capable. Both end the day at 5-6.
Akua defeats Tobizaru – An odd, soft and early tachiai from Tobizaru got the match off to a somewhat awkward start. Akua immediately went for a left hand inside hold, and the remainder of the match, Tobizaru struggled for any kind of hand placement. A throw attempt fell apart, leaving Tobizaru turned, and Akua pushed him out from the rear. Akua improves to 3-8.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho hit hard and high at the tachiai, leaving Sadanoumi a wide open counter-attack lane. He was not one to pass it up, he grabbed an arm and pulled Kotoshoho past him, finishing with a hearty right hand push from the rear. Sadanoumi improves to 3-8.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma opened trying for an arm pit attack, but had problems landing any kind of force against Yutakayama. Chiyoshoma resorted to random body and shoulder slaps to keep Yutakayama guessing where he was going to strike next. Yutakayama countered by pulling Chiyoshoma in with a left hand inside grip. They traded lifts, and then Yutakayama advanced, overpowering Chiyoshoma for the win, improving to 6-5.
Hokutofuji defeats Shimanoumi – Hokutofuji’s super low fighting position again carried the match, he was able to square his shoulders against Shimanoumi, and really overwhelm Shimanoumi’s defensive footwork. My only knock on Hokutofuji is that we don’t get to see this kind of sumo from him starting on day 1. His lack of consistent delivery is what robs him of a durable position in the named ranks. Both end the day 6-5.
Okinoumi defeats Ishiura – Back from kyujo, Ishiura celebrated in the traditional sumo way. By losing his first return match. The match switched modes at least twice, and Ishiura struggled to generate any coherent offense, allowing Okinoumi to push / slap him out of the ring, advancing to 3-8.
Endo defeats Kotoeko – I admit I am disappointed that Kotoeko did not win today, but Endo gave him a tough, blow for blow match. Realizing he was not going to be able to overcome Endo’s defense with tsuki/oshi, Kotoeko went for a grip. But his attempt to rotate into a throw was poorly set up, allowing Endo to collapse the rotation and send Kotoeko to the clay. Both end the day primed for kachi-koshi fights tomorrow at 7-4.
Wakamotoharu defeats Kiribayama – What are they feeding these guys at Arashio heya? Both Onami brothers are having break-out performances this March, and the result is some great sumo for the fans. This fight was another chest to chest battle that Wakamotoharu prefers, and he quickly discovered that Kiribayama was up to the challenge. After setting up left hand inside, they took a pause to figure out their next moves. Wakamotoharu moved first, getting Kiribayama off balance, then pressing forward strongly to move Kiribayama out by yorikiri. Both end the day 7-4.
Ichinojo defeats Meisei – Poor Meisei seems to have zero power in his sumo right now. He literally bounced off of Ichinojo at the tachiai. Meisei then tried for an immediate pull, and met an onrushing Ichinojo instead. It was 3 steps and done for Meisei, and Ichinojo improves to 7-4.
Tamawashi defeats Ura – Not sure what is plaguing Ura right now, but he seems to be in no condition to actually win a match, and he’s reduced to the role of acrobat of the dohyo. Today Tamawashi gave him a hearty toss, sending him end over end out of the East side. Sadly one of the shimpan caught a full impact of Ura’s landing. Tamawashi now 5-6.
Hoshoryu defeats Daieisho – Hoshoryu captures Daieisho, and holds onto his body, moving him back before he can unleash his first thrust against Hoshoryu. Hoshoryu grabs a leg and pivots, Daieisho cannot keep his feet, hitting the clay for a loss. Both end the day 5-6.
Onosho defeats Takanosho – Onosho worked early in the match to get Takanosho off balance, and then never let him regain his footing. You can see Takanosho trying to stabilize, but each time he almost found his footing, another Onosho thrust would arrive. Onosho improves to 5-6.
Wakatakakage defeats Takayasu – The big match of the day shattered Takayasu’s unbeaten streak. Wakatakakage’s right foot lost traction at the tachiai, but Takayasu was unable to capitalize. In the first volley, Wakatakakage’s hips were lower, and was attacking well from below. He pressed his hands in and found a double inside grip. Takayasu knew he was in trouble. Wakatakakage lifted and moved forward, carrying Takayasu back and tossing him into the front row on the East side. With that 10th win, Wakatakakage can be considered to have started the process to rack up 33 wins between now and Nagoya to make a bid for Ozeki. With this kind of sumo, it’s easy to see him at the second highest rank. Both end the day 10-1.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Good hit from both at the tachiai, Shodai worked to circle right, and the timing caught Takarafuji by surprise, leaving him open air as he lunged forward to grapple. That’s the 8th loss for Takarafuji, and he is make-koshi for March, Shodai advances to 6-5, and needs 2 of the last 4 to clear kadoban.
Mitakeumi defeats Abi – Abi’s poor footwork took him out of the match. He was attacking well, but allowed himself to get on his toes, and to place his feet in line, leaving him no forward stability. Mitakeumi slapped him down at the moment he was most unbalanced, and put Abi on the clay. Mitakeumi advances to 9-2.
Takakeisho defeats Kotonowaka – While it’s great to see Kotonowaka take on the “heavies”, he’s not quite ready to be competitive against the likes of Takakeisho. I am sure that day is coming, but he’s got another step change to make in his sumo. He has some nice attacks in the opening parts of the match, and at one point is pushing Takakeisho back. But I would guess Kotonowaka is watching something other than Takakeisho’s center of gravity, as the Ozeki steps to the side and thrusts Kotonowaka out. Win #8 for Takakeisho, he is kachi-koshi and clears kadoban.