STURDY Gilbuena swept his three matches on the first day of the UAAP Season 86 Taekwondo Kyorugi championships, steering reigning four-peat champion National University to the men’s lead with a 3-0 record on Tuesday evening at the Marikina Sports Complex.
The Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte native, and the rest of the Bulldogs needed to make up for missing Olympian and last year’s MVP Kurt Barbosa in their drive for a fifth consecutive championship, and the squad was off to a great start.
Lightweight Gilbuena, the Season 82 Rookie of the Year-Most Valuable Player awardee, opened his account with a pace-setting 2-0 (6-1, 9-2) win over University of the Philippines’ Kyle Laroya.
He then followed it with a dominant 2-0 (13-0, 12-0) clinic past Ateneo de Manila University’s Emmanuel Borja before taking care of Far Eastern University’s Romar Javier, also at 2-0 (4-2, 2-1).
The Bulldogs stepped into the lead with a 3-0 win-loss card with Gilbuena at the helm, as the powerhouse University of Santo Tomas Male Tiger Jins also ended the day undefeated after two contests to take the lead in the standings.
NU, who also drew a solid performance from national team standout Kurt Pajuelas in the bantamweight, ‘swept’ FEU and Ateneo at 6-1 after a 5-2 win over UP and dealt with a surprise upset of Dex Ian Chavez in the flyweight from Fighting Maroon Vince Yango.
On the other hand, last season’s top student-athlete from the high school ranks, Legolas Peñaredondo, impressed in his collegiate debut to put UST in a two-contest romp of UP, 6-1, and DLSU, 4-3.
On the women’s side, Reign Ragutana and the rest of the UST Female Tiger Jins commenced their title-retention bid unbeaten with three dominant wins: two 7-0 sweeps of the FEU Lady Tamaraws and the UP Fighting Maroons and one with a 6-1 result against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Ragutana, last season’s top rookie, was lording it over the welterweight division for UST with a calculated victory past Daganan of FEU, 2-0 (6-0, 3-1) and in a thriller of a second round over Riana Navarra of UP, 2-0 (8-3, 11-9), to go with a default win as Ateneo has no player fielded in the said weight category.
The NU Lady Bulldogs, champions from Seasons 80 to 82, also remained undefeated but at 2-0 on the strength of a solid 5-2 win over the FEU Lady Tamaraws and a 6-1 rout of the De La Salle University Lady Green Jins.
De La Salle, though, managed to take two victories over UP and FEU, both in 5-2 finishes, to stay within striking distance of the leaders UST and NU at a 2-1 win-loss record.