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Sunday, March 19, 2000

YOKOZUNA STAY CLOSE

Takatoriki retains sole lead in Spring tourney

OSAKA -- Yokozuna trio Takanohana, Musashimaru and Akebono cranked up the power Saturday, but the top makuuchi division's three ozeki wrestlers all flopped to embarrassing defeats on the seventh day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana played cat-and-mouse with No. 2 maegashira Tamakasuga (2-5) at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, before seizing his chance to spin his smaller opponent around and run him out for win No. 6, which keeps the grand champion in the five-man chasing pack.

Earlier, No. 14 maegashira Takatoriki catapulted mid-maegashira Toki (5-2) into the ringside cushions to preserve his perfect 7-0 record in the 15-day meet.

Musashimaru hardly broke a sweat as he registered his sixth win by bumping out No. 4 maegashira Minatofuji (1-6), while Musashigawa stablemates Musoyama and Miyabiyama also upped their records to 6-1 with impressive victories.

Sekiwake Musoyama, chasing promotion to ozeki after winning his first championship in the New Year's tournament, manhandled fourth-ranked Takanowaka (2-5) and newly promoted sekiwake Miyabiyama -- runnerup in January -- easily shoved out komusubi Kaio (2-5).

Top-ranked maegashira Kyokushuzan (3-4) took such a long run-up against Akebono that the Mongolian forgot what his tactics were when he reached the Hawaiian skyscraper.

Akebono wasted little time in barging his opponent over the straw bails for his fifth win.

Dejima quickly found himself face down in the dirt after being tripped by komusubi Tosanoumi (3-4) for his third loss of the tourney, while fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai slipped to the same 4-3 mark after a tough loss to No. 1 maegashira Wakanoyama (3-4).

Ozeki Takanonami dropped to 3-4, meanwhile, as he was levered out by sekiwake Tochiazuma, who improved to 4-3.

Mid-maegashira Asanowaka also won Saturday to boost his record to 6-1.



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