In a surprising turn of events, defending UAAP Women’s Heavyweight gold medalist Justine Pongase was eliminated in the first round. With Pongase out of the picture, Ateneo’s Seanne Chung was able to cop the Lady Eagles’ only gold medal in the women’s division Friday afternoon at the La Salle Greenhills Saint Benilde Gymnasium.
In the first match in the division, La Salle’s Pongase faced off against UAAP Season 77 Half-Heavyweight bronze medalist Jamaika Ponciano. In an upset, Ponciano rode a wave of momentum in the final three minutes of their match to score an ippon on Pongase to eliminate her from gold medal contention. Ponciano advanced to the semifinals to face UP’s Jenina Torrente, who received a bye in the first round.
In the other bracket, Ateneo’s Chung was able to outpoint UP’s Mary Jhealyn Villena to advance to the semifinals. UST’s Renielyn Castillo also received a bye in the first round.
In the semifinals, Ponciano continued the ride of momentum in quickly dispatching Torrente to advance to the finals. Ponciano, after scoring a yuko at the 3:37 mark, was able to connect with a thunderous ippon 12 seconds later to advance to the finals.
Cheung, though, had to fight for her spot in a grinding match against UST’s Castillo. The Lady Eagle was penalized with a shido at the 3:24 mark but was able to make it up with a yuko with 1:23 remaining. The pace of the match quickly changed with a minute remaining with Cheung able to make one last push with an ippon with 50 seconds to advance to the finals.
In the bronze medal matches, La Salle’s Pongase was able to salvage a bronze medal in soundly defeating Castillo in the first repechage match. In the other bracket, UP’s Villena defeated teammate Torrente to gain the other bronze medal.
With the unexpected finals match set, Jamaika Ponciano and Seanne Cheung stepped on the mats to the roar of the Ateneo and UST faithful in attendance. The two lady judokas fought a cerebral match as the two parried and tested each other in the first three minutes of the heavyweight finals. Cheung was then able to find a hole with 1:27 remaining with a huge hip throw for an ippon to take Ateneo’s only gold medal in the women’s division.
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