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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008

Hakuho tops east slot

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho, who will be in the hunt for his third straight title, lined up in the prestigious east slot for the second meet in a row as the Japan Sumo Association released the rankings for the upcoming Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

As the lights appear to be dimming on the career of rival yokozuna Asashoryu, Hakuho continues to cut an imposing figure after winning the autumn basho with a 14-1 record.

Asashoryu, who has pulled out of the last two meets citing injuries, is still nursing an injured left elbow and remains a question mark for the Nov. 9-23 meet at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Kotomitsuki, who finished with an 11-4 mark in September, sits in the east ozeki slot while 36-year-old veteran ozeki Kaio moves alone into second on the all-time list making his 91st appearance in the elite makuuchi division.

Chiyotaikai, who falls into the other east position across town from Bulgarian Kotooshu on the west, is wrestling as an ozeki in a record 59th consecutive meet.

Mongolian sekiwake Ama, who has posted double-digit wins in his last two meets, will face his first real test for glory in a bid to gain promotion to ozeki.

Estonian big man Baruto, meanwhile, has moved up a rank to sekiwake, the third highest after yokozuna and ozeki.

Goeido, who won the Fighting Spirit Prize with a record of 10-5 last time out, moves into the east komusubi post, while Aminishiki returns to the "sanyaku," the three ranks below yokozuna, for the first time in five meets as a west komusubi.

Russian newcomer Aran makes his debut in the top flight as a No. 10 maegashira after only 11 meets, equaling the record pace set by Kotooshu.

Bushuyama also joins the makuuchi as the fourth eldest wrestler at 32 years, 5 months, to break into the top division since World War II.

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