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Tuesday, Feb. 29, 2000

Miyabiyama continues rise up sumo rankings

Rising star Miyabiyama continued his impressive run up the sumo hierarchy, achieving the rank of sekiwake as the Japan Sumo Association released its rankings for next month's Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Miyabiyama's promotion to sekiwake for the March 12-26 tourney at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium comes after the Musashigawa Stable wrestler battled to a 12-3 record in January's New Year tournament where he was making his debut as a komusubi.

Miyabiyama made the rank of sekiwake in just his 11th tourney since his pro debut in the Makushita Division two years ago and is the second quickest to reach sumo's third highest position along with stablemate Dejima and one-time ozeki Yutakayama, now JSA head Tokitsukaze.

Meanwhile, grand champion Takanohana returns to the prestigious east yokozuna rank after posting a 12-3 record in the New Year tourney, joining Musashimaru, who was forced to pull out of January's meet with a sprained left wrist.

On the opposite side, Akebono, who had an 11-4 record in January, will step up to the ring from the west side along with Takanohana's older brother Wakanohana.

Takanonami, who was demoted to sekiwake after posting two straight losing records last fall, returns to ozeki after reaching the requisite 10 wins in the New Year tourney and will join Dejima and Chiyotaikai in sumo's second highest rank.

Musoyama, who won the New Year tourney for his first-ever Emperor's Cup with a stellar 13-2 record, joins stablemate Miyabiyama and Tamanoi stable wrestler Tochiazuma at sekiwake while Tosanoumi and Kaio fill the komusubi ranks.

Both of the elite makuuchi division's Mongolian-born wrestlers moved up in the rankings after impressive performances in the New Year tourney.

Kyokutenho, who notched 11 victories last month as a 13th-ranked maegashira, moves all the way up to No. 2 maegashira while Kyokushuzan, who posted an 8-7 record, climbed to top maegashira from the sixth-ranked position.

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