Tag Archives: Ateneo de Manila Track & Field Team

Ateneo Men’s Track and Field Team Makes Historic Podium Finish

“Ateneo Men’s Track and Field Team Makes Historic Podium Finish”

by James Gregorio

Last season, one week prior to the actual competition, former Ateneo Men’s Track and Field Team captain Robert Sargan (IV AB IS) was injured in a freak accident during training. Although the other 19 members stepped up to the challenge to make up for the absence of their prized pole vaulter and decathlete, they missed the mark to a third place finish by only 4.5 points.

Since Ateneo joined the UAAP league in 1978, the men’s track and field team has never tasted a podium finish. The highest that the team ever attained was 4th place in 1982, 2002 and 2005. This year, 20 athletes were ready to go toe-to-toe with their rivals from other UAAP schools in a quest to finally reach the podium.

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UAAP 73 Athletics Day 1 (26 January 2011)

Whilst stuck in EDSA traffic on my way to Ultra yesterday, I felt cold beads of sweat drench the old school Ateneo Track & Field warmer I was wearing. After an hour’s worth of snail-pace trudging, the familiar sight of the Blue and White greeted me.

The feel of UAAP 73 is entirely different from the years past. Aside from a handful of seniors, the rest of the current members of the college squads are mere acquaintances. A small number of my contemporaries from the other schools have turned to coaching. Even the venue itself brings forth an alien feel, in light of the fact that the UAAP has been held in Rizal for the better part of the league’s 73-year existence.

View the UAAP 73 schedule here

The Rundown

Freshman JB Capinpin missed the Long Jump top 8, after being disqualified for false starting at the 100m dash heats. Ateneo’s 1-2 sprinting punch, Soy Soriano and Franco Imperial barged into the century dash final in bombastic fashion, with the latter emerging the clear leader out of all qualifiers. In the final, Soriano overcame the fast finishing Jose Unso’s last ditch final burst, crowning himself as the fastest man of the meet at 10.8s.

Soriano (C) dominates his heat. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Surprisingly, the Men’s 110m high hurdles was held as a straight final. Back in the day, we used to have as much as 3 heats for high’s, with each school sending at least entries. De La Salle University’s Unso ran his heart out, stopping the clock at a hand-timed 14.7s. Unso, eldest son of national 400m hurdles record holder Renato, won convincingly over UST’s Emman delos Angeles (14.8) and decathlete Jeson Cid of FEU (15.0). Ateneo’s Dean Roxas (15.4s) and team captain Zek Valera (17.6s) finished 5th and 8th, respectively.

DLSU’s Patrick Unso, the younger of the Unso brothers, was conspicuously absent due to conflicts with the release of his high school clearance.

On the distaff side, UST’s Bane-bane was just too classy for the rest of the field, running away with a dominant 15.1s win. Ateneo’s Anj Aquino, after a gutsy effort in qualifying, ran a hard-fought 16.7 in the final. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan won silver at the shot put, notching a new personal best. State University’s Precious de Leon heaved the shot to a distance of 10.14m, enough to overhaul Sibayan’s 10.09m. A determined Ally Lim clung to a 5th place at the 5,000m walk, collapsing through sheer exhaustion. Lim’s lung-busting effort signified the no-nonsense fighting spirit of the current crop of tracksters.  Indeed, the women’s team had gone a long way.

With the departure of sprint queen Maita Mendoza, women’s track & field powerhouses FEU and UST reigned supreme at their traditional bailiwick, the 100m dash. FEU’s Hanelyn Loquinto ran 12.1s over UST’s Luville Dato-on.

The jumping marks were relatively lackluster, due to the substandard runway. FEU’s talented Cid could only manage a modest 6.46m leap – enough for the long jump gold. UE’s Gatmaitan, mentored by none other than the legendary Elma Muros, missed the women’s triple jump by a mere centimeter (11.79m). DLSU’s Felyn Dollosa won gold (11.80m).

View the official UAAP results from PATAFA

View partial UAAP results from Pinoymiler

Ateneo High School’s Chuckie Dumrique stormed through the 100m dash boys’ final. The talented Toledo almost threw 50m en route to a commanding victory in the junior javelin competition. The versatile Joaquin Ferrer, however, came short at the 110m high hurdles boys’ final. UPIS’ Nasis ran the (hurdle) race of his life to edge out the more fancied Ferrer.

Amidst all the action, the most memorable moment is Paco Razon’s desperate, last ditch heave for the bronze (article to follow). Ateneo’s Miguel Sibayan fell to fourth place. In a show of dominance, UST won both the gold and silver.

UP’s Javier Gomez was unable to defend his javelin (and decathlon) titles due to a recurring knee injury.

Razon's magical last-round throw. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Post Script

Whilst watching the events with Jerome Margallo, the UAAP pole vault record holder said something that warmed my heart. Margallo admired the support given by former Ateneo athletes to the current team. Coming from a hardened veteran and an accomplished collegiate athlete, the compliment brought forth feelings of pride – and a sense of accomplishment. This strong sense of team was the main driving force behind the modest successes of our college years.

Even if three long years had passed since my last UAAP race, I still feel at home amidst the sea of familiar and not-so-familiar faces. As I cheer my heart out for this year’s young turks, I swell with pride at the thought that I too had once trodden upon those fertile field of dreams.

* Special thanks to Andrew Pirie for compiling results.

Photo credits

Joseph Angan (The Guidon)

Ateneo Track & Field Team: Sabah Champions!

My former college team won their first ever Championship, topping the overall rankings of the 57th Sabah Athletics Open. Even if I’d played out my last year of UAAP eligibility back in February 2008, I’ve always found the time to watch them compete at the UAAP championships. This victory of theirs makes me utterly proud to have been part of that team at one point in time.

Aside from my former coach and a couple of athletes, the rest of the current team are just a familiar set of faces – acquaintances, really. My contemporaries have long since went separate ways – to law school, medical school and to various careers. And yet, there’s something familiar amidst the unfamiliarity.

It’s remarkable to note that a mere 7 years ago, the Men’s team languished at cellars of the UAAP. Back in 2003-2005, to win a medal seemed impossible. Defeat and disappointment came part and parcel with each meet. I could go on for hours at length talking about how we rose from last place to a seemingly unremarkable 3rd.

What I love most about sporting events, aside from the sheer entertainment value it provides, is the post-competition celebrations. In sports, we find an authentic expression of what it is to be human. Raising one’s arms in triumph, shedding tears of joy, running a victory lap around the oval are some expressions of raw emotion that I love watching.

Even if I didn’t get to watch my former team in action, seeing the pictures and reading their absolutely joyful Facebook posts helped brightened up my day. Indeed, the team today is light-years away from its humble beginnings back in the early aughts.

To the Ateneo Track & Field Team, congratulations!

Additional links:

Ateneo.edu write-up

Ateneo results

Jad Adrian’s post about the 57th Sabah Athletics Open

Photo credits:

Ateneo Track & Field Team

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