The GUIDON: Tracksters seek glory, redemption at UAAP

The Track & Field UAAP Championship Season 74 concluded last weekend. Before my analysis (written together with Dean Roxas) is published, here’s what we wrote last month about the Blue and Lady Tracksters regarding their first semester performance.

This was published in the January 2012 hardcopy issue of The GUIDON, in the Sports section and in February 2012 for the online version

Tracksters seek glory, redemption at UAAP

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On the road to glory. The Blue Tracksters with their team of award-winning veterans and talented rookies, seek redemption at this year’s UAAP track and field championship. Photo by Christella D. Soriano

Coming into the 73rd season of the UAAP last year, the Blue Tracksters were one of the heavy favorites to win the UAAP crown. This was a very rare thing, considering that the Tracksters’ highest standing on the podium was a hard-fought bronze which they have held for 6 years. The main reason for this daring speculation was the numerous surprises that the team had pulled off prior to the UAAP Track and Field Championships.

Having won the 2010 Sabah Championships held in Malaysia, the Blue Tracksters displayed their prowess, taking on teams from all over the Southeast Asian region. The feat was impressive, especially because they were not fully ready for this international competition.

In a stunning performance, the Tracksters captured the elusive Unigames 2010 crown in Dumaguete. Again, this sent shockwaves to other schools that this particular group of Ateneo track athletes would be different from previous Ateneo teams. By winning five gold medals in the Unigames, Ateneo became a threat to heavyweights Far Eastern University and University of the East.

Despite the wins, the Ateneans did not let victory ruin their focus in preparing for more prestigious competitions, such as the celebrated UAAP. Unfortunately, the favored Blue Tracksters would be disappointed.

For the first time in a while, Ateneo dropped to fourth place. Disappointing as it was, all the Tracksters had to do was to pick up the pieces and go back to the drawing board.

Season 74 looks to be different for the men’s team. Only one athlete graduated and the core of the team is bolstered by the recruitment of Maki de Jesus and Joel Magturo, some of the best homegrown talents from the Ateneo de Manila High School track and field team.

Returning to the lanes this year are potential MVP Candidate Carlo Soriano, who took the sprint double (100-m and 200-m sprints) last year, 2010 UAAP Rookie of the year Algerion Bugarin, two-time racewalker bronze medalist Jeremy Esguerra, Captain JP Azcueta, and supersenior Geelo Arayata. The core of the team will be the key in leading the team on the road to glory.

Lady Tracksters

The Lady Tracksters are in the process of rebuilding a team full of fresh talent. They entered this school year sorely depleted, standing with less than a third of their members from the previous season, due to the graduation of four seniors and the departure of three other athletes. The women’s team quickly regrouped with the addition of rookies and sought-after recruits.

Sprinter Klarrizze Posadas from Brent International School qualified for the finals of the 100-m dash in this year’s Unigames—a big feat for a freshman. She was also awarded MVP at the Asia Pacific Activities Conference. Posadas is the daughter of Elma Muros, the current Philippine record holder for heptathlon, and until recently, the long jump.

Thrower and sprinter Vanessa Baguiwet, also from Brent, is currently close to beating the records of UAAP champion thrower Mica Sibayan. Hurdler and high jumper Althea Santos from Miriam College High School showed her excellent form in the prestigious Palarong Pambansa, where she won silver in the high jump. She also nabbed the silver medal in hurdles and a bronze in the high jump at the Unigames last October—the only win for the Lady Tracksters.

Other new recruits are Carissa Veloso, a freshman from Miriam, and Ines Lorenzo, also a member of the Ateneo Football team.

The young team faces the challenge of adjusting from the high school level to the more competitive and serious collegiate level of play. Much of the young recruits are still learning to adjust and make track and field their lifestyle. Another challenge the team is facing is the number of injuries that occurred throughout the school year.

For the upcoming UAAP, team captains Poly Villar and Meggie Ochoa would like the girls to focus on winning individual medals in their respective events. “Placing top three is a very long shot not because of lack of talent, but because of the lack of members,” they share. The team is very small compared to the massive line-up schools like FEU and UST have each year.

While the rest of the Ateneo student population had eaten to their heart’s content during the holidays, the Blue and Lady Tracksters were at the track oval keeping their bodies in top form and constantly improving their technique. Their hard work will definitely pay off as they seek glory at the UAAP Championships.

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