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Monday, Nov. 21, 2011

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On his toes: Kisenosato (left) forces Kotooshu out of the raised ring on Sunday in the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament. KYODO

Hakuho, Kotoshogiku still perfect


FUKUOKA — Yokozuna Hakuho and ozeki Kotoshogiku remained neck-and-neck in the race for the year's last Emperor's Cup as the two heavyweights stayed perfect through eight days at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Hakuho never broke a sweat as he sent No. 3 maegashira Gagamaru rolling to win by sukuinage, while Kotoshogiku beat Kakuryu (6-2) in the day's penultimate match at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Sekiwake Kisenosato, seventh-ranked maegashira Takekaze and No. 9 Wakakoyu all kept up with the leaders with 7-1 records.

Hakuho will face fourth-ranked maegashira Tochinowaka (5-3) on Monday.

Newly promoted Kotoshogiku outclassed Kakuryu en route to his eighth win, backing his opponent to the edge of the dohyo in a heartbeat off the blocks.

The best Kakuryu could do was hang on with all his might before Kotoshogiku threw him on his back for an uwatenage victory.

Kisenosato got the better of popular ozeki Kotooshu (6-2) in a meeting of 6-1 wrestlers, tipping the Bulgarian to stay one off the pace.

Kotooshu tried to bulldoze his way to a seventh win out of the tachiai, but Kisenosato dodged his charging opponent in the nick of time, toeing the straw bale as Kotooshu flew off the hill.

Kisenosato, who will face another ozeki in Harumafuji on Monday, was relieved he came out of the bout with another tick in the win column by tsukiotoshi.

With four more victories, Kisenosato will be in good position to be promoted to ozeki.

According to the Japan Sumo Association, he needs 33 wins over three straight tournaments to capture sumo's second-highest rank. Kisenosato had 22 victories at the last two basho.

"He caught me completely off guard. He got right inside my pocket," Kisenosato said. '

'I thought there might even be a replay because it was so close.

Kisenosato added: "I've got to do better than that next time."

Takekaze defeated No. 6 Aminishiki (4-4) by oshidashi, and

Wakakoyu, meanwhile, won by yorikiri over No. 5 Yoshikaze.

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