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Thursday, March 23, 2000

Takatoriki stays 2-up on pack

OSAKA -- Grizzled Futago-yama stable veteran Takatoriki steamrolled his way to an 11th straight win Wednesday, while Takanohana, Musashimaru and Musoyama all posted solid victories to boost their records to 9-2 at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

No. 14 maegashira Takatoriki, a former sekiwake, crashed hard into komusubi Tosanoumi (5-6) at the face-off and, seeing his opponent struggle to regain a footing, quickly dragged him to the dirt surface to the delight of a packed Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

With his training mate already soaking in a hot bath with a perfect 11-0 record, yokozuna Takanohana iced the cake for the Futagoyama stable by turning in a textbook performance to bump off rising star Miyabiyama, who slipped to 8-3 with the loss.

Takanohana, chasing his 21st Emperor's Cup, took Miyabiyama to school in the day's final bout, returning the sekiwake's thrusting attack with interest before securing a grip on the belt and snuffing out any last signs of resistance.

Grand champion Musashimaru flattened No. 5 maegashira Akinoshima (4-7) after a spot of slow-dancing in the middle of the ring, while sekiwake Musoyama did his ozeki promotion chances no harm by muscling out second-ranked Tamakasuga (4-7) to keep pace with the yokozuna duo.

Yokozuna Akebono, how-ever, failed to keep pace with the chasing pack, lurching to his third defeat of the 15-day meet against ozeki Chiyotaikai, who had the game to back up his pre-bout posturing.

Akebono had no answer to the hit-and-slide tactics of Chiyotaikai, who had the Hawaiian-born giant staggering like a toddler in a playpen with his speedy footwork before launching him off the ring for win No. 7.

Takanonami levered out No. 3 maegashira Kotoryu (3-8) to up his record to 5-6, while Dejima completed a perfect day for the ozeki trio by bundling out fifth-ranked maegashira Chiyotenzan (4-7) to register his seventh win.

It was a bad day for the top makuuchi division's two Mongolians, however, as top-ranked maegashira Kyokushuzan and second-ranked Kyokutenho both lost one-sided bouts.

Kyokushuzan crashed to his seventh loss of the tourney against komusubi Kaio (6-5), while Kyokutenho will face a demotion next time out after flopping against No. 4 maegashira Takanowaka (3-8) and taking a 3-8 record back to the changing rooms with him.

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