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Tracksters clinch first runner-up in NCAA 98

Article by: Frances Qarl M. Tolosa and Princess Jazlyn B. Pereda
Photo by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

After a three-year hiatus, the Mapúa Tracksters returned to the scene with record-breaking performances to seal the first runner-up finish with 661.5 points during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 Track and Field Championships held last April 19 and 20 at the PhilSports Track and Field Oval.

Back on track

Since the beginning of Season 98, the Tracksters shared that they were excited to make a comeback after the long pause. With eyes set on the prize, the athletes wasted no time and started their preparations since August last year. “Sa pagbabalik namin sa kanya-kanyang event, nakita ko ‘yung gigil ng mga seniors ko na gusto talaga ipakilala’ yung mga pangalan nila sa larangan ng sports na napili namin,” Team Captain Ariel Legaspi emphasized.

Aside from this, the Team Captain shared that they also wanted to make up for the alumni players who were unable to play during the pandemic and to inspire the new members who will enter next season.

Legaspi expressed his gratitude towards Coach Sean Guevarra who played a huge part in their success. Looking back on their pre-season preparations, Coach Guevarra gave athletes the opportunity to enter other national events, such as the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and National Open, where they were able to see the skills that still have room for improvement.

Going through laps

Reuniting with the field, one of the biggest challenges encountered by the Tracksters would be the distant venues for their training. However, this was not the only setback that the team faced as they lost a sprinter and a long-distance runner after unforeseen events.

To make up for this, Jumpers Algin Gomez and Rookie Leonard Gorospe were then trained to sprint. “Mahirap po mag-adjust, lalo na’t yung conflict ‘yung schedule sa sprints tiyaka jumps, pero nakaya rin po para sa team,” Gomez admitted. Yet, after all the hurdles they had to jump over, they ran through and made it to the podium.

With the guidance of their coach, the team was able to overcome the challenges. “Kaya ginawa amin lahat and ‘yun, nakapag perform naman kami lahat ng maayos. Tsaka lagpas pa sa inaakala namin.” Legaspi said.

Running the winning track

In the two-day meet, the home team earned a total of 13 medals out of 15 events, harvesting seven gold medals, four silver medals, and two bronzes.

During the discus throw, four athletes were able to break the former NCAA record of 41.46 meters established in 2018 by Arellano University. Mapúans Legaspi and John Michael Fajardo were two of the four athletes to shatter the record. Legaspi managed to win the silver medal with 43.26 meters, while Fajardo broke the record with 42.56 meters. Fajardo also earned a gold medal in the shot-put event, skillfully throwing the iron shot at 13.96 meters.

Fellow Trackster Gomez then joined the winning track after recording 14.61 meters in the triple jump category to secure the gold, while Gorospe cleared 14.03 meters for the silver. Gomez reigned in another event, the 100-meter dash, where he snagged a gold medal and clocked 11.32 seconds. Additionally, John Lloyd Razon and John Lloyd Batalla managed to make it to the Top 8. In the long jump, Gomez and Gorospe once again dominated the field. Gomez won the gold medal with a leap of 7.12 meters, and Gorospe took home the silver with a leap of 6.99 meters.

Both athletes also competed for the 4x100-meter relay, alongside teammates Jason Sonio and Kennard Molinos, where they secured the gold medal for the team.

Meanwhile, Trackster Ritchie Estampador bagged bronze in the 5000-meter dash. Adding another bronze to their collection of medals, Renato Marfa, Ronante Marfa, Aaron Vincent Merin, and Molinos teamed up to place third in the 4x400 relay with a 3.30.52 record.

Adding to the gold and silver combo of the Intramuros-based team, the Marfa brothers also were in the lead in the hurdles; Renato Marfa was able to achieve gold with 15.98 seconds in the 110-meter and 400-meter dash with 56.01 seconds, while Ronante Marfa achieved silver with 16.08 seconds in the 110-meter dash.

Gomez was named the Most Bemedaled Athlete of the season, taking home four gold medals. The majority of the red and gold squad made their debut this season as rookies, with the team made of only four seniors.

While the upcoming NCAA Season 99 has been teasing to bring back all the events for Track and Field in full swing, Legaspi shared how the team already has designated players for high jump, pole vault, and steeplechase.

“Sa team namin, pagsisikapan po talaga […] and gagawin pa din po namin yung best namin, in order for us to perform well, and ayun, mabalik ‘yung championship dito sa Intramuros.” Gorospe ensured the Mapúan community as they gear up for their bid to secure the championship title next year.

“Babalik nang malakas,” Gomez, the Most Bemedaled Athlete of the season, added.

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