2. ‘The Crank’ gets first UFC win

2. ‘The Crank’ gets first UFC win
By JON PEREZ
jon_perez@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

Frank “The Crank” Camacho made Marianas known to the MMA world when he earned his first victory in the Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Australia last November.
Camacho fought Damien “Beatdown” Brown, beating the hometown bet via split decision in UFC 121 Werdum VS Tybura in front of a sellout crowd at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
The 28-year-old Brazilian Jiu-jitsu brown belt needed to match his opponent’s toughness and at the same time staved off several clear take down attempts to improve his fight record to 21 wins and five defeats.
Camacho, whose lifelong mixed martial arts career is to set foot inside the UFC octagon and win, earned the historic triumph after judge Evan Field scored it 30-27 in favor of the former CNMI junior golfer.
Judge Chris Aliendi also saw the fight in Camacho’s favor, 29-28, while Kevin Manderson gave the bout to Brown, 29-28, who dropped to 17-11. The Aussie bet is a known ground fighter after earning his eight wins via submission with only three by KO and six by decision.
After his UFC victory, Camacho won’t be fighting until February next year as his manager is trying to arrange a meeting with former UFC lightweight title contender Diego “The Dream” Sanchez.

3. CNMI Junior Tennis Team stands out
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

The CNMI Junior National Tennis Team kept the Nations Cup, besting 16 other countries that participated the 2017 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships held in Fiji.
The title defense was a tough one for the Jeff Race-coached squad, as the group won by only one point against runner-up Tahiti and also had tough battles against New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
The back-to-back champion team was composed of Robbie Schorr, Carol Lee, Ji Min Woo, Seung Jin Paik, Conatsu and Coume Kaga, Maria and Anthony Gregoire, Hye Jin Elliot, Daniel Kang, Richard Steele, Song, Vincent Tudela, Sean Lee, Grace Choi, Michael Ren, and Malika Miyawaki.
The CNMI bets played in the girls and boys U12, U14 and U16 singles and doubles events. Carol gave the Commonwealth the most points with her title conquest in the U16 singles and doubles (with Malika Miyawaki).
Other CNMI players who had podium finishes in the POJC were Schorr (third in U16 singles and doubles with Song), Woo (third in U14 singles), Sean (second in U14 doubles), Paik and Woo (third in U14 doubles), and Conatsu (third in U14 singles and second in doubles with sister Coume).
Before playing in the POJC this year, Paik, Woo, and the Kaga sisters also saw action in various tournaments in Fiji and New Caledonia as part of their training under the Oceania Tennis Federation/International Tennis Federation scholarship.

4. Soccer facility construction starts; NMIFA continues dev’t
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association embarked on its biggest project so far in its bid to continue the development of soccer in the CNMI.
NMIFA started construction of the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville in September and with the support of both the public and private sectors, the facility may be completed in the spring of 2018.
Though NMIFA committed some of its resources for building an artificial soccer pitch in the CNMI, it remains dedicated to the development of its players, coaches, and officials, sending them to off-island competitions and training camps.
The CNMI Girls U15 National Team participated in the EAFF U15 Girls Tournament 2017 in Shanghai, China; CNMI Boys U15 National Team in the AFC U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand; and the CNMI Boys U18 National Team and CNMI Women’s National Team to the Marianas Cup in Guam.
The boys U18 players also had training camps in South Korea and Hong Kong, the boys U15 crew in Guam, and the women’s squad in Japan. The Commonwealth’s players challenged Japan and Chinese-Taipei teams, too in friendly matches here.
In the club level, competitions got tougher as championships were spread out among MP United, TanHoldings, Kanoa, and Shirley’s teams.
As for the schools, NMIFA also continues to reach out to them by strengthening its Interscholastic School League and National Elite Academy.
Not to be left out was its women’s program with NMIFA providing regular tournaments for both competitive and recreational players through league sponsor Dove.

5. SSC, Tsunami Saipan swimmers deliver
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

Saipan Swim Club’s Jinnosuke Suzuki and Tsunami Swimming Center Saipan’s Isaiah Aleksenko, Juhn Tenorio, and Ashley Dangol had a fruitful 2017 after dominating the CNMI record books.
Aleksenko set nine age group marks in the 9 to 10 division this year to own 11 of the records in his group and then added one when he climbed by to the 11 to 12 category, His fellow Tsunami Saipan swimmer, Ashley, registered seven in the 9 to 11 age group and when the summer ended and the latter moved up to the 11 to 12 division, she gained five marks.
Tenorio got four marks in the 11 to 12 age group and one in the 13 to 14.
Jinnosuke matched Tenorio’s five records, but the former posted all of them in the 11 to 12 division.
Three other swimmers earned records this year—Maria and Nelson Batallones and Aasish Dangol.
Meanwhile, besides doing well in local races, SSC and Tsunami Saipan swimmers also had notable performances in off-island events.
SSC’s Kento Akimaru earned the top honors in the 69th Annual Keo Nakama Invitational held in Hawaii and also ruled the North Shore Swim Series in Oahu.
Jinnosuke joined the same competitions and finished first in the 11 to 12 age group in the swim meet and the ocean swim. Jinnosuke and his brother Lennosuke also saw action in the 2017 TAS Tigersharks Invitational Swim in Taiwan and the Suzuki siblings both placed runners-up in their respective division. Akimaru had a podium finish, too in the same meet, as he was ranked third in the over 15 age group.
As for Tsunami Saipan swimmers, they joined the Tokyo Junior Sprint 2017 and Aleksenko and the Dangol siblings brought home gold medals.

6. Falcons soar in Juniors, Seniors
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

The Talaabwogh Falcons reigned supreme in the Juniors and Seniors division of the 2017 Saipan Little League Baseball.
The Falcons took their third straight championship in the Junior League after downing the Comets, 8-2, in their title showdown. The Falcons’ two other crowns came from their 3-2 victory over the IT&E Fielders in 2015 and a 10-7 triumph against the Enforcers last year.
In the Senior League, the Falcons made it back-to-back following a 4-3 win over the Enforcers in this year’s title duel.
The Falcons also advanced to the finals of the Majors, but were denied the sweep this season after the NSA Braves prevailed in their championship game, 7-6.

7. CNMI athletes excel in off-island tourneys
By JON PEREZ
jon_perez@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

CNMI athletes also made waves in several off-island competitions with Donivan Mendiola, Angel San Nicolas, Zarinae Sapong, Marianas Outrigger Club, Napu Outrigger Canoe Club, and Marianas Pacific Paddlers performing well in their respective events.
Mendiola highlighted his banner year with a gold medal win in the middleweight division and a third place in the overall title in last month’s Michelob Ultra Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships, and International Invitational in Tamuning, Guam. He also finished third in the Ikaika Classic and NPC Sean Ray’s Hawaiian Classic and then topped the Dee Clayton Classic.
San Nicolas, meanwhile, prevented a medal-less stint for Team CNMI in the 10th Pacific Mini Games when he clinched the bronze in the weightlifting competition in Port Vila, Vanuatu early this month.
Sapong, on the other hand set a new personal best time in the 100m sprint after clocking in at 13.29 seconds in the 16th International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in London, United Kingdom.
In paddling, MOC’s men’s team topped the 500m and long distance events in the 19th Micronesia Cup held in Guam in October, while Napu’s youth squad brought home four gold medals, four silvers, and a bronze from the same competition. MPP’s women’s team also came out victorious in the Micro Cup after ruling the 1,000m race.

8. CNMI gets hosting rights of regional events
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

The CNMI got the hosting rights for three regional tournaments.
First up for the Commonwealth is the 2018 Micronesian Athletics Championships, which will be held on June 14 to 16. The CNMI won the hosting rights for the event during this year’s Oceania Athletics Association Congress in Fiji.
Up next is the 2018 Micro Cup with the CNMI picking up the hosting rights from Guam. Palau hosted the paddling competition in 2017. The CNMI’s turn to hold the Micro Cup was announced during the event in Guam in October.
Also in October, the South Pacific Bodybuilding Federation handed the hosting rights of the 2021 South Pacific Bodybuilding Championships to the Commonwealth. The CNMI was named the host of the event during the region’s meeting held in the Solomon Islands.
Then early this month in Vanuatu, the CNMI received the Pacific Games Council flag, signifying the turn of the Commonwealth to host the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.

9. Goodbye XTERRA, hello KONQER, Ironman
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

This year saw the end of one of the longest-running signature events on island and the beginning of two promising ones.
Marianas Visitors Authority last month announced that it dropped XTERRA Saipan Championship from its 2018 sports calendar, while retaining KONQER and Ironman 70.3 Saipan. The two new events are expected to draw more off-island competitors to further build the CNMI’s reputation as a sports haven for athletes.
KONQER Saipan debuted here last September, attracting nearly 500 participants, while Ironman 70.3 Saipan hit the road last March and lured about 200 athletes.
The final staging of XTERRA Saipan last March featured a little over 100 triathletes.
Tagaman, Saipan Marathon, and Hell of Marianas were also held this year, getting a good number of followers, and will return in 2018.

10. Track oval undergoes resurfacing work
By ROSELYN B. MONROYO
roselyn_monroyo@saipantribune.com
REPORTER

After nearly four years, resurfacing work at the Oleai Sports Complex oval was finally completed.
The project started late December last year and finished in June. However, the facility is still closed to the public pending the issuance of the International Association of Athletics Federations certification and completion of improvement work in the surrounding areas, including the field.
The track is only one of the many facilities that received federal and local funding for renovation/repairs after being damaged by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015. Initial financial assistance were also made available this year for the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield, Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Ballfield, and the complex’s grand stand, which will be improved in 2018.
Repair work at the sports complex is needed as the CNMI will be hosting the Pacific Mini Games in 2021.

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