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Saturday, March 22, 2003

Duo share lead at spring basho

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna debutant Asashoryu had a powerful win with a twist of good fate Friday as ozeki Chiyotaikai fell to his third loss to even the score between the pair with two days remaining at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Mongolian bruiser, who is aiming to win his third consecutive Emperor's Cup, zeroed in on Kotomitsuki before handily disposing of the sekiwake to move level with his ozeki rival at 10-3 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Chiyotaikai, however, got a bit too anxious in the penultimate bout with fellow ozeki Kaio and paid for his mistake. The Kokonoe stable grappler came flying out of the crouch and was sent sprawling over the edge as Kaio dodged a bullet with a heads-up sidestep.

Chiyotaikai, who is looking to claim his third title, slipped into a tie with Asashoryu while Kaio along with ninth-ranked Miyabiyama are hot in pursuit just one off the pace at 9-4.

In the day's final bout, Asashoryu jostled with Kotomitsuki at the ring's center with both wrestlers exchanging a salvo of thrusts to the neck.

But the yokozuna waited for an opening and quickly moved in for the kill, heaving the sekiwake up by the armpits and depositing him with a thud outside the ring.

Asashoryu faces Kaio on Saturday while Chiyotaikai takes on former ozeki Miyabiyama with each man still in contention.

In another key bout, crowd favorite Takamisakari got the better of Miyabiyama with a awesome display of brute strength, handing the ninth-ranked wrestler a heavy loss at the 15-day meet.

Miyabiyama tried to use his larger body to repel Takamisakari grabbing him by the neck but the No. 2 maegashira was far too much as he relentlessly thrust forward and sent Miyabiyama over the bales.

No. 5 maegashira Kaiho (6-7) picked up Dejima (8-5) by the leg and sent the komusubi flying willy-nilly into the second row of cushioned seats.

Sekiwake Wakanosato did some fancy footwork spinning around three-sixty before heaving out top dog maegashira Takanonami (7-6) to post his eighth win.



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