The DLSU Green Judokas improved their standing to third place this year despite falling to first-placers, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, and first runners-up, the UST Growling Tigers. Meanwhile, the Lady Judokas failed to land on the podium as they finished fifth this year at the UAAP Season 78 Judo Championships, which were held last November 18 and 19 at the St. Benilde Gymnasium in La Salle Greenhills.
The two-day event featured some of the country’s top collegiate fighters, while welcoming some of the most promising rookies to one of the premier competitions in the country.
Men’s division champions Ateneo completely dominated the scene with their outstanding technique and consistency. For the women’s division, it was UST who had won decisively over the competition.
This time around, DLSU found themselves incapable to deliver when they needed to the most. Both the Men’s and Women’s team combined only garnered one gold medal, one silver, and six bronze medals.
Green Judokas Michael Borja and Adrian Perillo came home empty after the tournament, having faced tough opponents in their respective divisions. On the other hand, the Lady Judokas were missing the services of their captain Marjorie Santiago, who was sitting on the sidelines due to injury.
It was a rough time for coach Sam Bernales and the DLSU Judokas as their backs were against the wall. With pressure kicking in, the opposing powerhouse teams managed to convert on ippon opportunities.
Light at the end of the tunnel
La Salle’s David Gordon managed to snatch a bronze medal during the first day. Norman Chua, on the other hand, fought in one of the tournament’s more exciting matches as he fought fire with fire against UP’s Carl Aseneta. However, in a sudden turn of events, Chua’s surprising attempt was reversed, resulting in a gold medal win for the UP Judoka.
Also, veteran Vincent David was able to clinch a bronze medal. Lady Judokas Freesia Heradez, Mia Baguisi, and Justine Pongase added bronze medals of their own to the DLSU tally. In the featherweight division, Carmilia Cadorna surprised the scene, bypassing the semi-finals to win a bronze medal as well.
On a brighter note, UAAP rookie Keith Reyes, who was coming out of residency, was hungrier than ever. His semi-final match featured the explosiveness he can provide for the team in the coming seasons as he quickly scored an ippon.
Reyes was met by Ateneo’s Rafael Cadiente in the finals of the heavyweight division. With all eyes on them, the rookie found his way on top of Cadiente to hold him down for an ippon and a memorable win.
Even after a disappointing showing at this year’s championship, both teams have already recognized the areas they can improve on. Despite Reyes’ outstanding performance, his concern from here on is the betterment of the team. He mentions that next year’s team will be more cohesive and more experienced, especially with the rookies and junior players coming in. He assures the Lasallian community that they will be training and preparing more intensely for next season.
It was a wonderful sight for any martial arts enthusiast as each fighter showed and received the respect they deserved. The UAAP definitely houses the best up and coming fighters and, with a year to go back to the drawing board, expect Bernales and his resilient team to use this season as motivation to do even better in Season 79.