Last year’s UAAP Season 76 was rough for the DLSU Green Tracksters and the Lady Tracksters, as tough breaks led them to fall from the podium. From a third place finish in UAAP Season 75, the Green Tracksters dropped to fourth place in UAAP Season 76. The Lady Tracksters on the other hand, settled for fifth in UAAP Season 76 after finishing fourth in the previous year.
This year, with a relatively intact roster and a fresh crop of rookies, expect both teams to build on the positives of last season and the experiences that made them stronger.
“Of course, we expect to perform better than last season,”says Green Tracksters team captain Jasper Tanhueco. “Our goal is still the championship, like all the other teams. We just want to give our best and exceed our coaches’ expectations. What’s most important is that we do our best to increase the chances of La Salle to win the general championship title.”
“Last year was a bad year for us,” adds Lady Tracksters team captain Bernisse Chua. “However, what we generated was the urge to win and avenge our loss. I can say that the seniors and sophomores are a lot more committed to trainings and [look to] improve themselves.”
The Green Tracksters earned a total of 16 medals last season, with Patrick Unso winning five. He had two golds from the 110 meter hurdles and the 400 meter hurdles while he earned two silvers from the 200 meter and 4×400 meter event, where he teamed up with Mico del Prado, UAAP Season 76 team captain Ico Ejercito, and Tanhueco. Ejercito had another silver medal in the 4×100 meter relay, wherein he was joined by Tanhueco, Unso, and Matteo Cu-Unjieng. Aside from his two silvers, Tanhueco added another gold medal from the 100 meter event to bring his haul to three while Johnrey Moreno finished at second in the 3000 steeple chase.
La Salle earned three more medals in the field events, with Gerald Layumas winning silver in the triple jump competition while both Mat Crespo and Rj Cabanyog earned bronze medals in the hammer throw and discus events.
“[The goal is] ma-retain yung gold medals [we won last year] then madagdagan pa nung mga [walang medal] last season,” Tanhueco says, adding that there were instances wherein DLSU could’ve won medals but failed to do so due to some technicalities.
On the other hand, the fifth-place Lady Tracksters finished the competition with three medals, two of which came from Precious Que, who won the silver medal in the 100 meter hurdles and settled for bronze in the heptathlon event. The other Lady Trackster to bring home a medal was Lyra Baytan, who finished third in the 5000 meter event.
Overall, the FEU Tracksters dominated the competition, winning both the Men’s and Women’s Divisions last season.
Well yung mga teams kasi na kalaban namin, manpower wise mas malakas sila kasi, complete sila [in] all events,” Tanhueco mentions. “Kami siguro, sa isang event, one or two malakas so yun lang yung parang weakness ng team namin compared sa FEU and UST.”
Aiming for the top
This year, the Tracksters will look to bounce back, thanks to newfound experience and key additions. With the Lady Tracksters gaining a number of rookies, Chua believes that the team will have more opportunities to gain more medals. When it comes to the Green Tracksters, she hopes that last year’s rookies will build on the lessons they learned from UAAP Season 76.
“For the women’s team, I expect us to be stronger than our past UAAP [season] since we are double in terms of number compared to the past two years,” she mentions. “We have a lot of rookies and I expect them to be our source of strength this year. For the men’s [team], they are stronger now and I hope they would finish in third place this UAAP.”
“I believe the rookies this year will serve as an inspiration for the team to strive harder in achieving its goal for this season and become the catalysts for the team to continually improve quickly and work hand in hand with the seniors of the team towards one goal,” rookie Erielle Chua adds when asked about the rookies’ impact on both teams.
Aside from the new additions, the Green Tracksters and Lady Tracksters have taken their training up a notch. In addition to their usual training on the track, which is now based in Ultra, the venue of this year’s competition, both teams have done weight training and worked on both bonding and building up team spirit to physically and mentally prepare for the season.
“We increased our training times and the intensity [of our training] to further improve ourselves,” Chua says, adding that even if their training is from Tuesday to Friday, most of them put in extra work on their days off.
With the competition slated in the first week of December, both the Green Tracksters and the Lady Tracksters are optimistic that their performance this season will be better than that of last season. Additions and changes have injected life into the team and right now, they feel that their level of effort has given them the confidence to be the best they can be.
“I believe that if we could be a solid team and motivate each other during trainings whenever one loses his or her way; no matter what the results maybe this UAAP season, we would feel like winners because we know for a fact that we gave our best and all efforts would have been paid off,” the younger Chua says.
“There are times that we really start feeling lazy to train, but we always keep in mind our team mates who train regardless of what they are feeling,” the team captain Chua adds. “It’s a matter of pushing one another to greatness.”