This Season 81, both the Green and Lady Tracksters aimed for a sixth place finish at least. Expectations changed for both teams midway through the tournament. “Right from the start we were not expecting to get a good result in the rankings,” assistant coach Jeoffrey Chua said in response to both team’s goals.
Both teams were able to exceed expectations by a spot after placing fifth in the overall standings. The five day event was held at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City, last November 28 to December 2, 2018
As the tournament concluded, the UP Fighting Maroons ended a 36-year championship drought as they dethroned the FEU Tamaraws and robbed them of continuing their eight-year reign as champions. On the other hand, the UST Golden Tigresses won the women’s overall title for the fifth consecutive time, narrowly edging the FEU Lady Tamaraws for the fifth time as well.
Setting the pace
Going into the first day of the tournament, it was the Green Tracksters who saw action first for La Salle. In the men’s pole vault event, Francis Obiena finished with a distance of 4.30 meters to give La Salle their first gold medal of the tournament. Green Trackster Keneth Rafanan represented the team from Taft in the men’s shot put event as he was able to earn the Green-and-White their second podium finish of the day with a third place finish, with a distance of 12.65 meters.
To conclude the first day, Princess Desepeda competed for the Green-and-White women’s in the pole vault event. It was a disappointing finish though for the Taft-based team as Desepeda finished last with a distance of 2.00 meters.
On the second day of the tournament, the Green and Lady Tracksters were unable to garner podium finishes in the relay events. However, the team from Taft was able to tally significant points through the individual events.
In the women’s triple jump event, Lady Trackster Angel Cariño bagged the gold and established a new UAAP record of 12.72 meters, comfortably ahead of ADMU’s Sheila Talja, who claimed silver with a distance of 12.09. Cariño shared that she was happy to break her previous UAAP record, 12.60 meters, and the Philippine record, 12.68 meters, at the same time, “Nung nag-12.60 ako nung previous previous season, eight centimeters away nalang so sobrang lapit nalang talaga, kaya sabi ko noon gusto ko talaga ma-break yon, tapos ayun nangyari kaya sobrang saya ko talaga kasi nagbunga yung paghihirap.”
(When I recorded 12.60 in the previous previous season, I was eight centimeters away so I was so close which is why I said I really want to break that record, and then it happened that’s why I’m so happy because all the hard work bore fruit.)
On the third day of the meet, the Taft-based team earned medals from both the individual and relay events. Green Trackster Joshua Patalud garnered a silver medal in the men’s javelin throw event, ranking behind FEU’s Rejohn Gadian and ahead of NU’s Tyronne Flores.
Lady Tracksters Cariño, Melissa Escoton, Elrica Guro, and Judy Rendora bagged silver in the women’s 4x100m relay with a time of 48.64 seconds. Meanwhile, competing in the women’s discus throw, Daniella Daynata of the Lady Tracksters finished on top as she bested UE’s Dianne De Jesus and UST’s Aira Teodosio, which gave her the gold medal.
The final day of the competition saw a resurgence from both the Green and Lady Tracksters, as they finished on the podium thrice, gathering two gold medals and one silver. Men’s team captain Alvin Vergel completed a gold medal finish in the men’s 110m hurdles. In the women’s division, Lady Trackster Escoton likewise nabbed the gold in the 100m hurdles. Lady Trackster Cariño, finished at the podium again, as she clinched the silver medal in the women’s long jump, which gave her team additional points to improve their standing.
Despite finishing at fifth in both the men’s and women’s division, the assistant coach commends his team’s performance as they surpassed their initial expectations heading into the five-day meet. “Initially, we were aiming for sixth place only in the men’s and women’s but during the course of the competition there were chances to rank higher, so we we started to aim for fourth or fifth,” Chua remarked on their Season 81 campaign.
As for the team’s future, Chua expressed his concern as he shared, “We need manpower and resources. Lima ang gagraduate, so we need five [players] for the women’s and another few for the men’s. We need new recruits to replace the graduating students.”