After stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight last season, reigning UAAP Men’s Fencing Most Valuable Player Sammuel Tranquilan has no plans of going back into hiding.
The national team standout had to train for all three weapons, but performed well as he led the shorthanded University of the East Red Warriors to the verge of a sixth consecutive UAAP crown after the individual events.
Tranquilan took three medals in the first two days of competition – two golds and the other a silver – to pace the Recto-based squad for this year.
Like the previous years, UE had to deal with a six-man lineup. However, their roster is stacked with players who are ready to wield all three weapons: the sabre, the epee, and the foil. And Tranquilan is no exception.
“Pumasok na po ako sa training ng sabre,” he recalled of his regimen prior to the season. “Kasi po ‘yung foil [lang] dati sa gabi lang, ‘yung sabre po hapon lang. After class, takbo na po ako papuntang ULTRA para sa sabre.”
As a high school fencer of UE as well, Tranquilan also has experience playing sabre, but it was a renewed experience for him taking up the weapon this year.
In his quarterfinals bout against Ryu Senora of the University of the Philippines, the reigning MVP battled self-doubts. “Nung lamang po siya, kinakabahan na po ako ‘nun. Mabilis kasi ‘yung sabre, so dapat mabilis ka mag-adjust. ‘Nung una sinasabayan ko po siya, eh iba ‘yung tempo niya, so nag-adjust po ako.”
From there, it was smooth sailing for the Red Warrior. After taking down the Fighting Maroon, he advanced to the final with another close win past De La Salle University’s David Lumahan.
Tranquilan then had an easier time, and despite losing to fellow UE standout and UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year CJ Concepcion in the finals at 15-8, he was proud of the achievement.
This just boosted him in the afternoon’s epee and the following day’s foil – his weapon of choice.
The UAAP Season 80 top player reclaimed the epee mint after four years, denying Lumahan’s younger brother and teammate Daryll in the gold medal bout at 15-10. Tranquilan then added his second gold on Friday afternoon, taking down partner Jancel Concepcion with a similar 15-10 score line in foil.
La Salle are in second on the strength of the Lumahans’ medals.
On the other hand, Ateneo jumped to third place after taking two bronzes in foil with Jolo Viceo and Anton Alianan. The other bronze for the Blue Eagles came from epeeist Jacob Villanueva.
Two rookies took the rest of the bronzes, as John Dayro and Dale Gonzales finished in third for UP for sabre and epee, respectively.
Still, the crown looks ready to remain in Recto. The Red Warriors, however, would like to make sure of that in the next two days.
“Siyempre sa teams, pagtutulung-tulungan namin para makuha namin ulit ‘yung gold. At siyempre, ‘yung championship.”