Tag Archives: Jose Unso

Competing against a Sub-14 Sprint Hurdler

Prior to the Philippine National Games, the fastest sprint hurdlers I’ve competed against were national record holder Alonzo Jardin (14.75s), UAAP record holder Orlando Soriano (14.96s); my teammate, three-time UAAP 110m high hurdles champion, Michael Mendoza (14.97s); and Robin Tuliao (14.98s)*. In terms of hand-timing, Mike (14.6) and Soriano (14.8) are on top of the list.

Talking with Coach Ceril Yap of Kota Kinabalu, I was excited to find out that Malaysia’s top hurdler, Rayzamshah Wan Sofian, was set to compete in Bacolod. Rayzam, then 18-years old, came from nowhere to snare the SEA Games sprint hurdles crown four years ago in Thailand, stopping the clock in 13.91s. With Tuliao, Jose Unso and Emman delos Angeles also in the field, my comeback race was relatively well-stocked with local hurdling talents.

During the warm-up, I tried not to observe Rayzam’s routine, as I focused on preparing for my first race in three years. Nevertheless, I was awestruck at his pinpoint hurdling clearance. His lead leg skims the hurdle. The Malaysian champion’s trail leg was just as snappy as it cuts over the barrier. Being a sub-10 100m dash sprinter, Rayzam possesses blistering speed in between barriers.

View my account of the PNG 110m high hurdle race here

Read my PNG wrap-up here

For my warm-up, I placed two hurdles at the far side of the track. Soon enough, all the hurdlers were sharing the barriers that I set up. Rayzam, apparently uncomfortable at running at the eighth lane, politely asked if he could move the hurdles to the adjacent lane. All throughout his warm-up routine, the Malaysian was a picture of calmness. He seemed quite at ease even with the alien surroundings, in light of the depth of his international experience.  The entire hurdling motion – from sprint to hurdling clearance – appeared easy for the guy.

He went on to win the race by a massive 0.7s over Robin (14.8). We talked a bit at the finish line. I found it amusing that he was in the Philippines for a holiday! He had quite a lot of anecdotes to share, from competing against the likes of Liu Xiang to his training regimen in Malaysia. For someone who has reached the pinnacle of regional competition, Rayzam was certainly laid back.

In jest, I thanked the guy for coming over to the Philippines and raising the level of play. Even if he considered his 14.1s time unremarkable, for us Filipino hurdlers, running so close to the thirteen second barrier was a surreal thought!

*- I only ran against Jardin twice, when he had shifted to the decathlon and was a shadow of his old hurdling self. I was sidelined by a broken arm when Soriano set the aforesaid UAAP record. When Mike went below 15-seconds, I was watching from the sidelines as a college alumnus, having used up all my five playing years. Tuliao set his PB at the Thailand Open a month ago.

POC-PSC National Games Athletics Wrap-up (23-26 May 2011)

The annual Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships was held in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; as part of the Olympic-style program of the POC-PSC National Games. The newly-renovated track of the Panaad Stadium, site of many an Azkals game, was the scene of battle. The event was an opportunity for aspiring elite athletes to showcase their talents. An amalgam of crack international campaigners, collegiate standouts, as well as promising grassroots talents comprised the lineup of athletes.

Aside from a few snags in the processing of the official ID cards, the athletics competition was fairly well-run. The technical officials, composed of both Manila-based and provincial personnel, were a well-drilled lot. The green-clad PSC volunteers, despite their inexperience, were exuberant in the way they did their jobs.

Panaad at Night (Photo from Zek Valera)

There were some instances when the start of a race was pushed back because of equipment breakdown, particularly with the automatic timing system. Nevertheless, it was a relatively well-organized local competition, according to a foreign coach.

The Sprints and Hurdles

In light of the oft-revised schedule, only a handful of foreign entries from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia made it to Bacolod. The most illustrious name among the visitors was Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian, the 2007 SEA Games gold medalist in the 110m high hurdles. The Malaysian did not disappoint, as he outclassed a lean local sprint hurdles field, stopping the clock in 14.1s. Laguna’s Robin Tuliao was a far second at 14.8s. Kota Kinobalu’s prolific Eddie Edward won over many-time UAAP seniors champion Romnick Herida of UAAP Athletics (11.19s), compatriot Fahrul Nazri (11.32s) and Australia-based Andrew Pirie of the Philippine Pole Vault Club (11.34s) in the century dash.

Patrick Unso of TMS Ship-DLSU reigned supreme in both the junior 110m high hurdles (14.3s) and the 400m low hurdles (54.47s). Robert Francisco of Laguna (14.5s) came second to Unso in the boy’s sprint hurdles.

There was some controversy in the men’s hurdles races, as national team member Junrey Bano was disqualified moments before participating in the 400m low hurdles qualifying. Nevertheless, Bano was allowed to take part, in spite of being officially out of the competition. The country’s top low hurdler stopped the clock at a classy 52.80s. UAAP Athletics’ Jeson Ramil Cid officially won the event in 54.60s.

Isidro del Prado, Jr., whose illustrious father still holds the Philippine 400m national record, surprisingly false started in qualifying, meriting an instant disqualification for the talented quarter-miler. In the absence of Del Prado, 2007 SEA Games gold medalist Julius Nierras (48.55s) and 20-year old Christian Bagsit (49.03s) made it a one-two finish for the Philippine Air Force. Del Prado (22.05s) nipped Nierras in the half-lap, beating the veteran by a massive four-hundredths of a second. Zamboanga’s Noli Torres (50.79s) and Aldrin Gonzales (51.36s) ruled the boy’s 400m dash.

13-year old Mary Diesto, a student of nearby Bacolod Tay Tung High School, won the girls’ 100m dash with an impressive 13.20sc clocking. Filipino-American Princess Joy Griffey walloped FEU’s Hanelyn Loquinto in the 200m dash, 25.24s to 26.03s, despite being weakened by food poisoning.

National training pool member Zara dela Virgo, slowed down by a knee injury sustained at the recently-concluded Thailand Open, failed to finish the Women’s 100m hurdles. Jennylyn Progio ruled the poorly-attended two-woman final, stopping the clock in 15.8s. Nerve pain saw the withdrawal of national record holder Sheena Atilano from the sprint hurdles field. Capiz’ Jaycel Cabaguena (15.9s) was impressive in the girls’ race, romping to a commanding 1.3s gap over TMS Ship’s Lea Casilihan (16.6s).

FEU’s Josie Malacad (1:02.79s) edged out Laguna’s Keizel Pedrina in the one-lap hurdles race. Malacad won over her UST rival by almost two-seconds.

The Distance Events

The country’s long distance aces, Rene Herrera and Eduardo Buenavista were virtually untouchable in their respective events. Herrera (9:06), a many-time SEA Games champion, completely demolished UAAP Athletics’ Christopher Ulboc (9:18.22) in the 3,000m steeplechase. Similarly, Buenavista ran a punishing last lap to reign supreme in the 10,000m run.

Vertek in action at the 10,000m run (Photo from Zek Valera)

San Sebastian’s Mervin Guarte set a new national junior record in the 1,500m run, en route to winning the senior title. Guarte ran below 4:00 in the metric mile, notching a fine time of 3:57.83.

The Relays

 The United Track & Field Team, composed of Diesto, Shaira Hernandez, Raye Deanne Ferrer and Hannah Malate – all 13 year old’s from Bacolod Tay Tung – eked out a surprise win in the girls’ 4x100m relay. The Capiz team, the pre-race favorites, false started; hence, meriting instant disqualification.

The Men’s 4x100m relay proved exciting, as a fast-finishing Rayzam Shah of Kota Kinabalu almost ran down the locals on the home straight. The UAAP Athletics quartet of Jhon Rey Bardos, Abraham Alzona, Herida and Cid – a powerhouse lineup of UAAP foes – won first place in 42.05s. The PAF team, anchored by Bagsit, came in second place at 42.07s, three-hundredths of a second from the Malaysian team.

PAF’s Bagsit in the 4x400m relay (Photo from Zek Valera)

The Philippine Air Force foursome of Nierras, Eduardo Alejan, Christopher Demata and Bagsit proved too much for the fancied UAAP squad. The Ernie Candelario-trained Airmen built up an insurmountable 5 second lead, stopping the clock in 3:14.42.

The Decathlon and the Field Events

The indefatigable Cid, the national junior record holder, scored 6,287 points in the Men’s Decathlon, propped up by dominating performances in the 110m high hurdles, 400m dash and the 1,500m run. National training pool member Manuel Lasangue was a far second with 5,670 points.

National team stalwarts Arniel Ferrera and Rosie Villarito each grabbed double golds, with the former taking titles in his best event, the hammer throw (57.55m), and the discus throw (43.23m). Villarito, competing for Laguna, won both the women’s shot put and javelin throw.

Despite being six meters off his personal best, national record holder Danilo Fresnido (64.20m) easily won over SEA Games medalist Dandy Gallenero (61.40m). Baguio-based Eleazer Sunang almost broke the long-standing shot put national record, heaving the implement to a distance of 15.57m. In frustration, the burly Sunang threw the shot from a standing position after the competition, easily reaching 16.00m!

Negros Occidental’s Maika de Oro handily won the Girls’ Discus Throw with her 37.36m heave. The hometown bet also struck gold in the shot up with her 10.18m throw.

Jerome Margallo of Team Hua Liong topped the Men’s Pole Vault. The national pool member cleared 4.25m, way off his 4.64m best, but more than enough to edge out Laguna’s Robin Bunda, the ageless Emerson Obiena and UAAP Athletics’ Zek Valera. Bunda, Obiena and Valera all cleared 4.15m. On the distaff side, Riezel Buenaventura – another Obiena protege – was virtually unopposed. The FEU alumna flew to a new personal best of 3.81m. TMS Ships’ Alex Smith, the national junior record holder, was a far second at 2.70m.

The come-backing Benigno Marayag narrowly lost to Nino Espinosa of Laguna in the Men’s long jump. Both jumpers had best jumps of 7.21m, but the latter won over the triple jump specialist on count-back.

Baguio’s Catherine Kay Bautista twice finished second behind Marestella Torres. Torres, the national record holder for both the long jump and the triple jump, was in a class of her own, notching winning leaps of 6.38m and 12.55m. The exuberant Bautista leaped 6.09m and 12.09m, on top of winning the 100m dash (12.58s) over national training pool member Loquinto. Bautista, who is coached by former jumps queen Lerma Baluaitan-Gabito, is a sure cinch to be bumped up to the training pool, in light of her performance in the horizontal jumps.

Additional links:

View the complete athletics results from the PSC website

Videos:

From the UAAP Athletics Facebook page

Fr0m the PATAFA Facebook page

Pictures:

From the PSC Facebook page

Rusty Beginnings (23 May 2011)

The entire race was flawed. I warmed up too early, just to make allowances for whatever corrections in form I had to make. I got left out of the blocks as my body ran cold due to the long wait. My hurdle clearance was way slower than ideal. Right from the retort of the starting gun, it was a no-contest.

I was demolished entirely by my competitors. Malaysia’s Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian, the 2007 SEA Games Champion, was first with a badass 14.1s time. Two of my college adversaries rounded up the top two, with Robin Tuliao stopping the clock at a classy 14.8s. Emman delos Angeles was a far third at 15.5s. The fast-starting UAAP 73 hurdles champion, Jose Unso, crashed to the track at the early parts of the race.

I came in at a measly 6th place. I clocked a terrible 16.5s, my slowest time since 2005. I pulled my right hamstring after clearing the 7th hurdle. Each stride was pure pain as I labored to get to the finish line!

Naturally, I was crestfallen afterward. It hurts my pride to finish at the cellar. But then again, I did not expect much from the race in the first place. After all, more than 3 years had passed since my last hurdles race. Being rusty as hell was expected.

Dammit! I have a hand-timed personal best of 14.9 friggin’ seconds for crying out loud! Dammit! Back in the 2006 season, I was spunky (and fit) enough to run two hurdles races in a span of 5 minutes. And I clocked well inside the 15-second territory for both races!

Read Sub-15 (13 October 2007)

Read Spunk

This was certainly unfamiliar territory. Whatever semblance of pride I had left was badly shattered after that race.

I was so depressed by the result that I contemplated a second and final retirement. Coach Emerson Obiena and the rest of the Philippine Pole Vault Club (PPVC) training group, as well as Tuliao and Delos Angeles, were very supportive amidst the deluge of personal negative feelings. I slept it off. By the morning, I was a changed man.

The loss of a season-opener brought forth a desire for redemption. I stopped ruing the lost race by looking forward to future competitions. Instead of dwelling under the cloak of pessimism, I recognized the flaws and swore to improve every facet of my hurdles training.

One thing’s for sure, it feels great to race again!

Video credit:

Tonio Chee

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 Tracksters top Unigames 2010

The Ateneo de Manila Men’s Track & Field won its second championship this season. The Blue Tracksters topped a quality field in the 2010 National University Games (UniGames) in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. De La Salle University and Rizal Technological University placed 2nd and 3rd over-all, respectively, in the men’s standing. On the distaff side, the ladies finished second over-all behind powerhouse UST.

First things first, the officials should have rounded up the hand-timed results to the nearest tenth – to conform with IAAF regulations. I guess they follow their own set of competition rules down south!

Reading the results sent over by Glenn Arcanghel of UST, the most impressive performance would have to be Soy Soriano’s 200m dash domination (21.56s). The Ateneo speedster built up a 0.5s lead over Palarong Pambansa champion Daniel Noval of De LaSalle University – College of St. Benilde (22.04s). Soriano emerged as a three-time gold medallist (100m, 200m, Classical Relay)  in the two-day meet.

Soriano set a new meet record in the 200m dash.

Sister schools DLS-CSB (42.50s), DLS-Dasmarinas (43.08s) and DLSU-Manila (43.24s) reigned supreme in the 4x100m relay. Ateneo fell to fourth place (43.44s) behind the dominating performances of the aforesaid three schools.

Men’s 4x100m relay (video from Ralph Soguilon)

The Unso siblings notched a unique hurdling double, with the older Jose (14.93) edging out UST’s Emman delos Angeles (14.95) for gold in the 110m high hurdles. Patch, the youngest son of 400m national record holder Renato Unso, registered an easy win in the lows (55.31s) over an outgunned field.

Ateneo’s rookie Al Bugarin heaved the shot 12.81m to snare the gold. Veteran Geelo Arayata topped the Discus Throw (38.96m).

On the distaff side, Mica Sibayan threw 32.57m and 10.19m in the Discus and Shot Put, respectively. Anj Aquino stopped the clock at 13.06s to finish third behind UST’s Luville Dato-on (12.47s) and Meriam Colangoy  (12.52s) in the 100m dash. UST dominated all the female relay events.

Download the Unigames 2010 Athletics Results (from Glenn Arcanghel and Pinoymiler)

Read the GoAteneo write-up

Read Pinoymiler’s Unigames 2010 Wrap-up

View Unigames 2010 photos here

I wasn’t able to watch the competitions because of work – and the sheer distance of the venue to Manila! Nevertheless, I was ecstatic when I heard the news from an old teammate. I was fortunate to be part of the first Ateneo track & field contingent to the Unigames (2003, La Salle Dasmarinas). The men’s team came home empty-handed. Nina Buenaflor salvaged the honor of the school with her double bronze medals in the long and triple jumps. A year later in Bacolod, we notched a couple of close 4th place finishes, but still went home without the bling-bling. In my senior year, we finally won our first medals and finished 3rd over-all in the general standings (Unigames 2006, Bacolod).

Read: Payback

Photos from Bettina Maclang

To see the current crop of tracksters hoist a gigantic trophy is priceless!

Video credit:

Ralph Soguilon

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