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Monday, March 18, 2002

DAY 8

Maru stays unbeaten

OSAKA -- Grand champion Musashimaru had another easy day at the office Sunday as he steamrollered past komusubi Wakanosato to maintain his perfect record as the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament enters its second week.

Ozeki Kaio, meanwhile, bounced back after his loss the previous day with a win over No. 3 maegashira Kyokushuzan to keep just one off the pace on the eighth day of the 15-day tourney at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Musashimaru (8-0) has put himself in pole position this time around by keeping his concentration and staying away from upsets in the first week, something that had plagued him through much of last year.

The Samoan-born powerhouse boosted his chances of a 10th Emperor's Cup after mowing down Wakanosato (4-4), quickly beefing out the komusubi.

Kaio (7-1), who suffered his first loss Saturday to Wakanosato, got back on the winning track with a no-nonsense victory over Kyokushuzan (1-7).

The bulky ozeki worked the Mongolian to the straw bales after getting a strong grip on the sash at the charge and then finished him off with a sharp slap.

Tochiazuma, who claimed his first-ever victory at the New Year tournament, kept alive his hopes of a promotion to yokozuna after cruising to victory over No. 4 maegashira Akinoshima (3-5).

The Tamanoi-stable ozeki can guarantee a move up if he wins a second straight tourney and stayed two behind the lead, along with three rank-and-filers at 6-2.

Also, Mongolian sekiwake Asashoryu outfoxed ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-4), jumping sideways at the charge and sending the ozeki sprawling in the dirt with the faintest of shoves for a quick-fire fifth victory.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki (4-4) got back to his winning ways, muscling out Mongolian No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho (1-7) although his quest for a promotion to ozeki will almost certainly have to wait a little longer.

Ozeki Musoyama, meanwhile, was virtually knocked out of the title chase by Takanonami (4-4), who twisted the ozeki down to a third loss after hanging tough against the straw ridge.



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