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Friday, Jan. 19, 2001

DAY 12

Sumo's big guns still blazing

Sumo's big guns continued to blaze Thursday as yokozuna rivals Takanohana and Musashimaru both registered solid wins to preserve their two-way tie for the lead at 12-0 with three days remaining in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana put on another convincing display at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan against ozeki Miyabiyama, who had little choice but to surrender after making the mistake of letting the grand champion's powerful right hand take control of his sash.

Moving ever closer to lifting his first Emperor's Cup since September 1998, Takanohana barged the ozeki out over the straw ridge to leave him nursing his sixth loss of the 15-day meet.

Meanwhile, fellow-grand champion Musashimaru, eager to become the first wrestler of the new millennium to cart home the tournament's hardware, barely flinched as he made mincemeat of Mongolian No. 8 maegashira Kyokutenho, now 8-4.

Ozeki Kaio, the yokozuna pair's nearest title challenger at 10 wins and two losses, had New Year defending champion Musoyama (7-5) chase him around the dohyo before easily pulling his fellow ozeki down to the dirt.

Dejima's dip in form continued as the ozeki fell to 6-6 after being flung out by newly promoted sekiwake Wakanosato, who posted a winning record at 8-4 and will now retain sumo's third-highest rank at the spring meet in March.

Top Maegashira Takanonami (5-7) piled more misery on Kotomitsuki, struggling in his first meet at sekiwake, by yanking the Sadogatake stable wrestler down to his 10th defeat of the tourney.

Earlier, Mongolia's 10th-ranked maegashira Kyokushuzan moved to 7-5 after forcing out 11th-ranked Kinkaiyama (4-8) and 12th-ranked compatriot Asashoryu (8-4) slapped down fifth-ranked Tosanoumi (5-7) to secure a winning record in his makuuchi division debut.

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