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Friday, Sept. 20, 2002

AUTUMN GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT

Musashimaru stays in charge

Grand champion Musashimaru had a brush with his second defeat but came away unscathed Thursday while rival yokozuna Takanohana overpowered ozeki Musoyama to stay one off the pace at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Musashimaru, the sole leader of the tournament with an 11-1 record, appeared to have a clear advantage over Asashoryu, using his massive frame to shove the ozeki close to the edge in the day's premier bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The fiery Mongolian, however, circled the Samoan giant and nearly tipped him over the edge before Musashimaru employed a well-placed arm-lock to flip the ozeki to his third loss.

Meanwhile, Takanohana had minimum trouble disposing of Musoyama, powering the ozeki out with an anticlimactic frontal force-out almost as soon as the pair had gotten under way.

The Futagoyama stable yokozuna, who missed seven straight meets due to a career-threatening knee injury, is in a tie for second place at 10-2 with ozeki Kaio and Chiyotaikai with three days remaining.

Kaio got caught up in a lengthy bout with Wakanosato(7-5), but outlasted the sekiwake to win with a businesslike force-out after locking horns at mid-ring.

Kotomitsuki (9-3) had no chance in a one-way encounter with ozeki Chiyotaikai (10-2), who blasted the seventh-ranked wrestler with a barrage of thrusts before dumping him over the bales.

Eleventh-ranked Mongolian Kyokushuzan whipped No. 6 maegashira Hokutoriki over the edge on an accelerated merry-go-round to pick up the win, as both wrestlers moved to 7-5.

Third-ranked Kyokutenho (6-6) let his Mongolian brethren down, backpedaling over the bales in a frontal push-out loss to No. 8 maegashira Tamakasuga (9-3).

Crowd favorite komusubi Takamisakari bounced back for his third win against second-ranked Toki (3-9).



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