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Wednesday, March 20, 2002

DAY 10

Musashimaru stays perfect as Kaio takes second loss

OSAKA -- No. 4 maegashira Akinoshima tripped up ozeki Kaio for his second loss Tuesday and gave Musashimaru a little more breathing space as the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament heads into its final five days.

Yokozuna Musashimaru took full advantage of Kaio's slip-up, breezing past rank-and-filer Otsukasa to move two wins clear of the field and another step closer to a 10th title on the 10th day of the 15-day tourney at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Kaio (8-2), who headed the list of challengers just one off the pace going into Tuesday's bouts, burst too quickly out of the blocks and No. 4 maegashira Akinoshima (4-6) used his veteran savvy to twist the ozeki over and then dump him to the ring's surface.

Kaio's loss left him even with No. 11 maegashira Takanowaka, also 8-2 after muscling out 10th-ranked maegashira Tochisakae (3-7) in an earlier pairing.

In the last bout of the day, Musashimaru mowed down another journeyman to keep sole possession of the lead with a perfect 10-0 record.

Otsukasa (6-4) was the latest to feel the force of the Samoa-born powerhouse with the yokozuna never looking in any danger before shoving out the No. 5 maegashira.

Meanwhile, New Year champion Tochiazuma (7-3) saw his faint hopes of promotion to yokozuna disappear at the hands of Kotomitsuki (6-4).

The ozeki needed to secure back-to-back titles to guarantee his step up to sumo's highest rank but after slipping up twice in the first week, he went down to another loss when the sekiwake bellied him out of the raised ring.

Also moving to 7-3 was Musoyama, who slapped down No. 5 maegashira Toki (6-4) while fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai (6-4) cantered to an easy win over No. 3 maegashira Kyokushuzan (1-9) with a couple of firm slaps to quickly finish off the hapless Mongolian.

Meanwhile, fiery sekiwake Asashoryu (6-4) sent former ozeki Takanonami (5-5) packing from behind and Mongolian compatriot Kyokutenho twisted down Kotonowaka to leave both second-ranked maegashira wrestlers on 3-7.

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