UAAP Track & Field Championships 2011

Throughout my days at the Hill, I had a total of seven UAAP track & field competitions – two as a junior and five as a senior. From 2001 to 2008, the highlight of each year was the 4-day athletics championships held in Rizal Memorial Sports Center. Looking back after all these years, I can honestly say that the experiences borne out of the field of competition – the ups and downs, the peaks and troughs – had been character-building.

UAAP hostilities will commence tomorrow afternoon. Since Rizal is undergoing a drastic face lift, the organizers had chosen Ultra as the venue. The old Olympic-style schedule consisting of four straight days of events was shelved by adding several days of rest in between the final two days (Jan 26, 27, 29 and 31 are the competition days).

This will be my third time to watch the UAAP as a track & field alumnus. Gone are the familiar faces of my former teammates. Aside from a handful of athletes (now seniors), most of the members of this year’s team are acquaintances, in light of the age gap!

As always, I make it a point to watch the first day – and the 110m high hurdles. With three-time UAAP champion Mike Mendoza’s graduation, the emerging Dean Roxas is the Ateneo’s best bet in the sprint hurdles. The fleet-footed Soy Soriano, arguably the best sprinter to have come out of Loyola in recent years, will anchor the team’s sprinting hopes. Freshman Al Bugarin, the Unigames 2011 shot put gold medalist, is a taller version of Ryan Dalman, whose UAAP shot put record still stands after 6 years.

On the distaff side, the pole vaulting duo of Bettina Maclang and Jam Valenton are forces to be reckoned with. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan also returns to play out her final year of eligibility.

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