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UST flexes might, bags seventh straight UAAP boys’ judo title

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UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas flexed its might in the two-day UAAP Season 86 Judo championships to bag its seventh consecutive boys’ title at the close of the competitions on Friday at the Marikina Sports Complex.

Paced by eventual back-to-back MVP John Patrick De Tomas’ lightweight (under 73 kg) and Julian De Castro’s half-lightweight (under 66 kg) golds the previous day, the Junior Male Tiger Judokas finished with 43 points on the strength of a 4-3-6 gold-silver-bronze medal haul.

The school’s sixth championship this season was nothing short of a product of the squad’s hard work, according to head coach Paul De Vera, saying, “Determined lang talaga ‘yung mga boys kasi simula nung pandemic nagpahinga, so lahat talaga nag-strive na manalo at gusto nilang sundan ‘yung mga nauna talaga. ‘Yung may mga ga-graduate na, gusto talaga nilang may maiwan talaga para sa team.”

“Starting from scratch lang talaga kami, tiyaga lang talaga. Sa every day training, talagang focused kami. May mga na-injure, mahirap talaga kasi puro mga bata. Nag-pay off naman, worth it naman lahat ng pagod nila: yung mga iyak, everything.”

UST clinched two more golds in the day with Zeus Babanto lording it over in the half-middleweight (under 81 kg) and Joerdan Caguicla defending his middleweight (under 90 kg) title to put the stamp in the dominant finish.

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On the other hand, Alessandro Nieto impressed in his UAAP debut and powered Ateneo de Manila to the runner-up finish in a close battle with De La Salle Zobel and University of the East.

The eventual Rookie of the Year beat teammate Rocco Antonio in the final of the heavyweight (over 100 kg) competition to officially seal the Blue Eagles’ count at 18 points, just a point ahead of the Junior Green Judokas.

DLSZ, meanwhile, also edged out University of the East by a mere point, 17-16, with Sian Constantine Guevarra’s back-to-back title in the half-heavyweight (under 100 kg) acting as the finishing kick to the campaign of the Alabang-based school.

With more grapplers, the UE Junior Warriors collected two golds and two bronzes with Eric Rodriguez’s back-to-back titles in the featherweight (under 55 kg) leading the way. Rupert Fernandez secured the other gold of the boys’ side in the extra-lightweight (under 60 kg).

On the girls’ side, the UE Junior Lady Warriors reclaimed the title after bagging all four golds at stake on the second day to end the competition on top with 39 points against defending champions UST Junior Female Tiger Judokas’ 33.

“Syempre, masaya kami na mukha ulit namin yung campionship. Kasi before nung pandemic three-peat yung girls pero after nung pandemic, dahil kulang kami sa players, nawala sa ‘min ‘tong championship. Pero nakikita mo sa girls, na gusto nilang bawiin ‘yung title at nagawa naman nila,” said UE head coach Rodimple Rodriguez.

Sweet Goodness Trillo romped the half-lightweight (under 52 kg) competition in the round-robin against teammate Alexza Gatdula and UST’s Asher Lee Broncano to bag the third gold of the day, and, eventually, sealing her fate as this year’s MVP.

Dennice Tan’s successful defense of her featherweight (under 44 kg) title and the redemption golds from Mikaela Palima and Jhen Rose Obeja in the extra-lightweight (under 48 kg) and the lightweight (under 57 kg) categories respectively boosted the Junior Lady Warriors after Jamaica Trino, the season’s top rookie, came up with the squad’s lone first-day gold in the middleweight (under 70 kg).

On the other hand, Oona Sophia Benavidez and Armilene Cortez tried to follow up on Mariah Lua’s half-heavyweight (under 78 kg) and Margaret Fajardo’s heavyweight (over 78 kg) golds for the UST Junior Female Judokas, but instead settles for silvers. 

DLSZ rounded up the podium with 13 points with Gabrielle Talaue’s half-middleweight (under 63 kg) gold leading the 1-1-2 medal haul of the squad.

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