Ilagan City—Filipino-heritage track bets debuted in the 2019 Ayala—Philippine Athletics Championship with flying colors at the Ilagan City Sports Complex.
Buoyed by a record-breaking leap of Natalie Uy in women’s pole vault on Wednesday, other Fil-Ams like Robyn Brown, Carter Lilly, Kyla Richardson and Kayla Richardson, together with Kristina Knott also made waves to cement their status as a legitimate force for the country’s Southeast Asian Games aspirations.
Brown, a Chino Hills, California native, reigned supreme in the women’s 400-meter hurdles after a time of 61.27 seconds, almost two seconds ahead of closest competitor Jessa Mae Jarder (63.25s) of University of Santo Tomas.
The Richardson twins also made good accounts of themselves after a win in the women’s 4×100 relay together with Zion Corrales Nelson and century dash queen Knott.
Middle distance runner Carter Lilly also debuted in style by claiming the men’s 800-meter run with a time of 1 minute and 50.91 seconds.
The University of Iowa stalwart Lilly eclipsed local mainstay and former champion Marco Vilog (1:53.09) and UP’s Mariano Masano (1:53.14).
The 23-year-old Knott was hailed as the fastest woman after clocking in 11.64 seconds in the centerpiece event 100-meter run. Her fellow national teammates Zion Corrales Nelson (11.84s) and Eloisa Luzon (12.19s) secured the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The Orlando, Florida native added her century dash title to the 4×100 championship to become the only double gold medalist woman athlete so far in the three-day tournament organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and supported by the City of Ilagan, Ayala, Milo, Philippine Sports Commission, Soleus, L.TimeStudio, Cherrylume, Foton, Asian Athletics Association and the International Association of Athletics Federation.
Meanwhile, sprinter Anfernee Lopena took advantage of top bet Eric Cray’s absence in the men’s 100-m run after running away with the gold medal in just 10.63 seconds.
Without Cray, the 24-year Bohol-native Lopena was just too good for Philippine Air Force’s Isidro Del Prado Jr. (11.26s) and Adamson’s Elias Ruther Cuevas (11.42s), who settled for silver and bronze medal, respectively.
“Kung nandiyan si Cray, mas maganda sana kasi magandang challenge ‘yun,” said Lopena, who however, added that it’s a good run to fire off his season-long preparation for the upcoming 30th SEA Games here.
“Sabi po ni coach, parang appetizer pa lang. Season opener pa lang po naman . Malayo pa at matagal pa, so okay po ito na usual start ko,” he added. “In the coming competitions, hopefully, mas mapapaba ko pa ‘yung time.”
Lopena joined Knott as a two-gold medalist after the former’s victory in the men’s 4×100 meter relay with fellow nationals Cray, Jomar Udtohan and Clinton Bautista.
The quartet timed in 40.13 seconds to win the relay event over Adamson University (43.16s) and National University (43.26s).
Lopena will gun for a third gold medal today with a looming 4×100 mixed gender relay victory as he will be accompanied by Clay, Eloisa Luzon and Kyla Richardson.
This solid outing of Fil-Heritage track athletes was a good lift for the Philippine national athletics’ team which vowed to perform strong in front of its home crowd in the SEAG slated from Aug. 31 to Dec. 11 in Clark.
Meanwhile, Francis Medina (53.26seconds) ruled the men’s 400-m hurdles, while UST’s Louielyn Pamatian (2:24.37) won the women’s 800m.