Last season’s Most Valuable Player Rheza Aragon admitted that getting the three-peat in UAAP women’s taekwondo will be a tough job for the National University Lady Bulldogs. Nonetheless, with determination and will, the Lady Bulldogs pulled through with accomplishing the feat, Friday evening at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
This is NU’s second title of the season and third overall in the competition.
In a virtual battle for the title, NU stopped the University of Santo Tomas Tigress Jins, 5-2. The Lady Bulldogs turned a 1-2 deficit around with the needed three straight wins, and the final score was settled by captain and Most Valuable Player Angie Dayag, who fittingly completed the round robin sweep for her squad.
Dayag took home the welterweight gold to pace two others who garnered the top spot, along with co-Rookie of the Year Nica Garces for flyweight and Aideleen Flores in middle/heavyweight. Two other NU jins pocketed medals, both silvers, with national player Jessica Canabal and senior Irish Razon.
UST reclaimed a podium finish after missing out on it last year with senior Charm Ragutana’s silver in welterweight taking the lead. Jamaica De Guzman and Zay Cajes also bagged silvers in finweight and bantamweight, respectively. Four bronzes were also added with flyweight’s Colleen Heria, featherweight’s Gabrielle Limjoco, lightweight’s Allyssa Asegurado, and middle/heavyweight’s Laila Delo.
By only losing to the top two teams, the De La Salle University Lady Green Jins likewise returned to the elite circle, with senior Lovely Avancena and co-Rookie of the Year Akila Boloto taking the titles in finweight and lightweight, respectively. Other La Sallians who placed in the individual podium are Gabrielle Yuchingtat (silver, middle/heavyweight) and Shannelle Romuar (bronze, welterweight).
Last year’s third placers University of the Philippines Lady Maroons slipped one notch lower, but 2017 Asian juniors silver medalist Beatrice Gaerlan dominated the bantamweight category for the gold. Rookie Cassandra Florencio got the silver in flyweight, even as Amber Acosta slipped to bronze for finweight.
2016 Asian champion and Asian Games veteran Pauline Lopez swept her way to the gold this year in featherweight as the Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles bucked a slow start to take fifth place.
University of the East had Bessie Tamayo in the podium, a bronze in bantamweight, for their lone medalist for the season.
Event host Far Eastern University rounded up the participants.
NU captain Dayag admitted that it was hard to fill in the shoes of last year’s MVP Rheza and her twin Rhezie Aragon. Nonetheless. the Lady Bulldogs buckled down to work to attain the third straight championship. She said, “Isang taon po kaming nag-prepare, tiniyaga po kami ni coach, para ma-defend po yung title.
“Marami na rin po kaming naging sakripisyo po.”
The champions attribute this accomplishment to the frequent encouragement of seasoned mentor Jeffrey Figueroa. “Ayaw po kasi ni coach na masira ‘yung history na nagawa po namin,” the senior Nationalian added. “Si coach rin po ‘yung laging nagpapataas ng confidence namin para makuha namin ‘to.”
If getting the third straight plum was hard, it is nothing compared to a fourth one, and NU are fortunate that they will have everyone – barring some untoward incident – back on board for the following season.
“Same pa rin po. Makinig lang lagi kay coach. Tapos ‘pag training, double time,” Dayag ended.