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Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011

Hakuho, Kotoshogiku still atop leaderboard


FUKUOKA — Kotoshogiku inflicted more misery on winless Aran at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, while Hakuho dismantled Toyonoshima with minimum fuss to also retain his share of the lead heading into the second week of the 15-day basho.

Ozeki debutant Kotoshogiku and yokozuna Hakuho remained tied at the top of the leaderboard with perfect 7-0 records, while sekiwake Kisenosato kept his place among a group of five rikishi one win off the pace.

Kotoshogiku returned to the dressing room to another round of thunderous applause at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, registering a seventh win that suggests the ozeki has a legitimate shot at the title.

The Fukuoka-born grappler locked up Aran at the charge and after deftly spinning the Russian around, sent him backpedaling toward the edge of the ring.

Aran clung on for dear life on the straw bales but as the home crowd cranked the volume up a notch, Kotoshogiku gave one last shove to put the issue to bed.

Toyonoshima (4-3) never had a hope in the day's final bout as Hakuho exploded out of his crouch and unleashed a barrage of shoves to send the komusubi stumbling back out of the dohyo.

Meanwhile, Kisenosato stayed on course to a move one step up the sumo ladder to the second-highest rank of ozeki with a forceout win over top-ranked maegashira Okinoumi.

The Naruto stable star got a vice-like right-handed grip on Okinoumi's belt and twice lifted him off the dirt before bellying him out to fifth defeat.

Kotooshu (6-1) took another big step toward saving his rank on a day of mixed fortunes for ozeki, the Bulgarian sending third-ranked Gagamaru down with an overarm throw to move within two wins of safety.

But Harumafuji slumped to his third defeat in a row, fourth-ranked Tochinowaka (5-2) landing on top of the Mongolian ozeki after flooring him with a backward force-down technique.

"I'm simply delighted," said Tochinowaka. "I knew I would not be able to be better (than Harumafuji) technically so I just went out all blood and guts."

"Hopefully I can keep wrestling like this for the rest of the tournament. I want to get a winning record."

Baruto had little trouble taking care of second-ranked Kyokutenho, an underarm throw victory moving him to 4-3. Kyokutenho suffered his sixth loss.

In an earlier bout, Georgian No. 2 maegashira Tochinoshin finally chalked up his first win of the tournament, pulling down top-ranked Goeido, who dropped to 3-4.

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