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Sunday, March 21, 2004

SPRING BASHO

Undefeated Asashoryu survives toughest challenge to date

OSAKA (AP) There was no change at the top Saturday as grand champion Asashoryu defeated Kotomitsuki to remain tied for the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament along with Kaio, Chiyotaikai and rank-and-filer Asasekiryu.

Winners   Losers
Wakanoyama 1-6   Hayateumi* 5-2
Kotonowaka 5-2   Futeno 2-5
Asasekiryu 7-0   Kaiho 3-4
Yotsukasa 4-3   Toki 3-4
Ushiomaru 3-4   Takekaze 4-3
Chiyotenzan 2-5   Kasuganishiki 3-4
Kokkai 6-1   Toyozakura 1-6
Buyuzan 5-2   Harunoyama 3-4
Takanonami 1-6   Asanowaka 2-5
Kotoryu 6-1   Kinkaiyama 3-4
Takamisakari 5-2   Tochisakae 4-3
Iwakiyama 3-4   Jumonji 1-6
Hokutoriki 5-2   Tokitsuumi 3-4
Tochinonada 4-3   Aminishiki 2-5
Dejima 3-4   Kyokutenho 3-4
Miyabiyama 3-4   Shimotori 2-5
Kakizoe 3-4   Kyokushuzan 2-5
Kaio 7-0   Wakanosato 4-3
Chiyotaikai 7-0   Tamanoshima 3-4
Musoyama 6-1   Tosanoumi 1-6
Asashoryu 7-0   Kotomitsuki 1-6
*denotes juryo-class wrestler

Fighting in the final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Asashoryu faced his toughest test so far when he took on the struggling sekiwake.

After a prolonged standoff at the center of the ring, Asashoryu eventually prevailed when he used an arm throw to send Kotomitsuki sprawling to the dirt.

The Mongolian wrestler, who improved to 7-0, is bidding for his second straight Emperor's Cup. He won the New Year tourney with a perfect 15-0 record. Kotomitsuki fell to 1-6.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai dodged a bullet in a bout with Tamanoshima to remain tied for the lead.

Tamanoshima, a No. 3 maegashira, shoved Chiyotaikai back at the face off and appeared to have picked up his fourth win. But the ringside judges ruled that Tamanoshima's arm touched the dirt surface before Chiyotaikai stepped out and the ozeki wrestler was awarded the win.

In other major bouts, ozeki Kaio used his low center of gravity to force out Wakanosato and maintain his share of the lead at 7-0.

Kaio got both arms around the waist of his opponent and bulldozed the sekiwake wrestler out shortly after the face off. Wakanosato stands at 4-3.

Elsewhere, Musoyama moved to within two wins of the winning record he needs to maintain his ozeki status when he threw down No. 4 maegashira Tosanoumi at the center of the ring to improve to 6-1. Tosanoumi dropped to 1-6.

In an earlier bout, No. 12 maegashira Asasekiryu maintained his share of the lead at 7-0 when he prevailed in a slap-fest with 16th-ranked maegashira Kaiho, who was handed his fourth loss.

Further down the ranks, Kokkai, from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, bounced back from Friday's loss to Hokutoriki when he shoved Toyozakura out to improve to 6-1.

Toyozakura, a No. 15 maegashira, fell to 1-6.

Fan favorite Takamisakari, an eighth-ranked maegashira, improved to 5-2 when he twisted Tochisakae down at the edge, handing the No. 7 maegashira his third loss against four wins.



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