Sports Sports Feature

UAAP: Green, Lady Tracksters ready to race to the podium

UAAP Season 81 was tough for both the Green and Lady Tracksters. Even before the competition began, the Taft-based teams suffered setbacks in training venues on top of dwindling numbers in their respective squads.

Green Tracksters team captain Jvee Patalud shares, “Season 81 was very challenging compared to previous seasons. Our numbers were down [and] our UAAP [schedule] was moved from second term to first term, so we had two UAAP competitions in one year. [Our] training venue in Ultra, Pasig was unavailable, so we [also] needed to step up and be creative with our training.”

At the conclusion of last year’s tournament, assistant coach Jeoffrey Chua explained that the team set their sights on a sixth place finish in Season 81—a goal that both squads surpassed by finishing fifth in their respective divisions. 

This Season 82, the teams from Taft are gunning for a podium finish. With an influx of hungry rookies, coaching reinforcements, and an “All for More” mindset, the medals are within reach for both squads.

Gearing up for Season 82

In every athletic journey, following a specific type of regimen to maintain the athletes’ physical condition is crucial. To prepare for the season, La Salle’s tracksters undergo a rigorous routine of training as Patalud illustrates, “We follow a strategic and well-planned training schedule to gradually prepare us for the UAAP season.” 

He further explains that the teams undergo two phases of training. The first stage is conducted during the off-season, which focuses on basics such as strengthening and conditioning. This is then followed by the preseason phase wherein the athletes focus on training for the sport’s technical aspects while also participating and testing themselves in invitational games to condition them for the UAAP season.  

With last season’s middle-of-the-table finish in the background, the Green and Lady Tracksters are heading into Season 82 with great optimism. The Green Tracksters did not lose any members, and in fact gained four rookies—two walkers, a sprinter, and a hurdler. On the other hand, five of the Lady Tracksters’ finest players have graduated, but they were able to recruit able-bodied rookies who will hopefully cushion the departures. 

There were also shake-ups to the coaching staff as head coach Romeo Sotto retired after serving the team for five years; but the team has named coach Rosie Villarito, a five-time Southeast Asian Games Medalist, as their new throwing and heptathlon coach. With a revitalized squad for the upcoming UAAP Season, the teams from Taft are raring to begin the upcoming season. Patalud shares, “We have our hopes up to increase our rankings from the previous year since we have a stronger team [and more members] this year.”

‘Bigger, stronger, faster’

Although the rankings of the UAAP athletics competition are calculated based on team points, most events are performed individually. Athletics is unique in that the sport has a magnified individual aspect in addition to the overall team game. Vaulters and hurdlers perform separately from sprinters and walkers; but at the end of the day, their points are tallied to determine the tournament’s champion. 

Personal records and individual performances are put in the spotlight in athletics competitions. On top of their team goals, the hungry Green and Lady Tracksters have set out personal goals as well. “[Our] goals are always to beat our personal best [times] and to contribute as much points as possible for the team. [So] in order to achieve these things, as a team, we align our goals, support each other, and push each other to be better everyday,” emphasizes Patalud.

After a productive offseason and a revitalized mindset, the Taft-based squads will enter the UAAP tournament as determined challengers. According to Patalud, the teams have no reason to believe that they can’t challenge for the podium, “We are definitely ready to take it to the next step. Our team is bigger, stronger, and faster this season. [We are] ready to give our very best and to challenge ourselves and our opponents for [a] podium finish this UAAP Season 82.” 

Both the Green and Lady Tracksters are eager to mount the podium charge as their campaign begins on January 28 at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City.

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