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Friday, Nov. 17, 2000

DAY 12

Akebono stands alone on top

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Akebono blasted out ozeki Dejima on Thursday to take pole position at 11-1 in the Emperor's Cup race as fellow yokozuna Takanohana threw rank-and-filer Kotomitsuki to his second defeat at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana and Kotomitsuki now lie in a four-way tie at 10-2 with grand champion Musashimaru and ozeki Kaio, who both posted wins to remain hot on the heels of the leader as the 15-day tourney at Fukuoka Kokusai Center now enters the final stretch.

Akebono, in his quest to become the only wrestler to lift two Emperor's Cups this year following his triumph in the Nagoya tourney in July, looked like unhinging Dejima's head from his shoulders as he nonchalantly blasted the ozeki out to his fourth loss.

Kotomitsuki, aiming to follow up on his upset win over Musashimaru on Wednesday, came out with all guns blazing but it was Takanohana's strength and technique that made sure he remained upright at the end of Thursday's finale.

Kotomitsuki dug in low at the charge and refused to budge at the mid-ring tussle but Takanohana, spotting an opening under the No. 9 maegashira's right arm, quickly dived in for the kill to haul Kotomitsuki down for the win.

Defending Kyushu meet champion Musashimaru survived a spirited attack from Chiyotaikai (9-3), who forced the Samoan-born giant to the edge of the ring, before sliding the ozeki back across the dirt and over the ridge to keep his back-to-back title quest within his grasp.

Fukuoka favorite Kaio danced fellow ozeki Miyabiyama (8-4) around the ring and then secured control of the Musashigawa stable wrestler's belt to send him tumbling out of the ring and remain firmly in the hunt for his first Kyushu title.

In other main bouts, Musoyama improved to 7-5 as the ozeki bolted out of the tachi-ai with a windmill of slaps and thrusts before barging out No. 7 maegashira Tochinonada (8-4) for the win.

Sekiwake Takanonami got a two-handed grip on the sash of Tochinohana to carry the komusubi over the edge, leaving both grapplers at 3-9.

Komusubi Wakanosato (6-6) forced out top-ranked maegashira Akinoshima (4-8).

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