The UAAP Season 79 Athletics Championship opened last Thursday, February 8 at the PhilSports Football and Athletics Stadium (formerly ULTRA) in Pasig City and concluded last Sunday, February 12.
Throughout the five-day tournament, the DLSU Green Tracksters garnered a total of 243 points, improving to third place from their fourth place finish in the prior season, while the Lady Tracksters maintained their previous standing at fourth place with 102 points.
In this year’s event, the FEU Tamaraws once again dominated the competition on their way to a seventh straight title, while the UST Growling Tigers remained in second place for the second consecutive season. Their counterparts, the UST Growling Tigresses, won the women’s overall title for the third consecutive time, narrowly edging the FEU Lady Tamaraws for the third time as well.
Getting up to pace
Team captain Shaira Hernandez shared from the first day of the the tournament that, “I hope [we’ll meet our] goals, individually and as a team.”
On the first day, DLSU’s Kenneth Rafanan and Erwin Parcon who participated in the Men’s Shot Put and in the Men’s 800-meter dash, respectively, finished with gold medals in their individual events. After the first day of the competition, the Green Tracksters were tied with the UST Growling Tigers for first place with 49 points each.
Hernandez explained that they were ready to bounce back after their lackluster opening day in contrast, since they saw the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Despite not making the finals, Hernandez was still optimistic about the succeeding events. “Alam namin babawi naman kami. As of now, lalaban pa rin, lalaban pa naman kami. (We know we can bounce back. As of now, we’ll keep fighting.)”
The second day proved to be more productive as Angel Cariño won the Lady Tracksters’ first gold medal of the tournament. In seizing the gold, Cariño also established a new UAAP record in the women’s triple jump event with a jump of 12.60 meters. As for the Green Tracksters, John Kenneth Nodos and Michael Del Prado bagged silver and bronze medals, respectively, for the Men’s 200-meter dash.
On the way to redemption
On the third day of competition, La Salle won several medals in various events. Joshua Patalud claimed the first gold medal of the day in the Men’s javelin throw event. Del Prado won the second gold medal of the day in the 400-meter dash while Nodos won the bronze in the same event. Del Prado felt a sense of relief after defending his title in the 400-meter dash. He shares, “[It was a close fight, but] at least, thank God, hindi ako bumigay, last 30 meters, nag-push pa ako to defend my title.”
Later on, John Rey Moreno added a silver medal to the tally of the Green Tracksters with his performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
In the relay events of the same day, the Green Tracksters and Lady Tracksters each earned podium finishes. Michael Del Prado, Jericho Ejercito, John Kenneth Nodos and Alvin Vergel placed third in the Men’s 4×100 relay. Lastly, Maureen Schrijvers, Angel Cariño, Melissa Escoton, and Judy Ann Rendora bagged silver medals in the Women’s 4×100 medley relay.
With the competition nearly coming to a close, DLSU bagged only two medals in the fourth day courtesy of Del Prado and Rendora. Both Del Prado and Rendora secured podium finishes in the 400-meter hurdles. The former won the silver medal while the latter clinched bronze for the second consecutive time.
La Salle finished the tournament on a high note in the Men’s division after earning five medals in the final day. Ejercito, Nodos, Parcon, and Vergel, were able to finish with gold in the Men’s 4×400 relay while setting a new UAAP record with 3:19.38. Patrick Unso, on the other hand, surpassed the UAAP record for the 100-meter dash.
Cariño earned her third medal with a silver in the women’s long jump while Parcon also finished with a silver medal in the Men’s 1,500-meter dash. Lastly, Lady Trackster Rendora finished with a bronze medal in the Women’s 100-meter hurdles.
At the end of the Athletics Championships, the DLSU Tracksters were able to secure a podium finish despite being shorthanded with only 13 members on their roster. When asked how he felt about the result, Del Prado exclaimed in a mixture of English and Filipino, “As the team captain, it’s a good feeling in a way that I’m there with them everyday, because before, I would focus only on my individual games, but this time I need to think about others too. It’s kinda hard because instead of focusing on my events, I have to think about the others as well.”
With their respective finishes, the men’s and women’s athletics teams contributed 10 and eight General Championship (GC) points, respectively. Meanwhile, the UST Growling Tigers and Growling Tigresses earned a combined 27 GC points.