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Van Obejas carries NU to breakthrough gold in UAAP men’s athletics


In a pulsating finish to the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Athletics Championships, National University leaned on heroic finishes from Van Alexander Obejas to dethrone two-time defending champion University of the Philippines by a mere 10.5 points to win the school’s breakthrough title in the sport on Sunday evening at the PhilSports Track Oval in Pasig City.

The Bulldogs ended up with 312.5 points against the Fighting Maroons’ 302. The FEU Tamaraws completed the podium with 221 points.

“Sabi ko sa mga bata, ‘Let’s pray for the best and let’s do our best para makuha natin.’ This is our golden opportunity kumbaga, huwag na nating sayangin,” said NU head coach Fernando Dagasdas to his wards prior to the day as NU was behind 240.5-245 heading into the final day of the competitions.

“Malaking bagay ito para sa programa namin at sana magtuloy-tuloy ito.”

Obejas, a 22-year-old native of Tacloban City, took down two crucial events to propel the Bulldogs to a maiden crown.

Obejas took the 110-meter hurdles title with 14.55 seconds, ahead of UE’s Edgie Garbin, who had 14.70 seconds, and FEU’s Joseph Antiola III, who with 14.84.

His second gold came at the expense of eventual back-to-back MVP Alhryan Labita and the rest of the UP Fighting Maroons in the 4×400-meter relay.

NU’s Gabriel Gemphil overtook UP’s Patrick Pabulayan in the second leg of the relay and never looked back and crossed the line with 3:17.90.

Hockett Delos Santos then found a way past John Carlo Yuzon in the homestretch to snag the silver for UST with 3:18.89, while Labita and UP ended with 3:19.40.

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It was a bittersweet day for Labita who was the top athlete of the tournament after winning five golds (100m – New Record 10.57, 200m – New Record 21.42, 400m – 48.00, 400m hurdles – 53.70, 4x100m relay – 41.90).

“Hindi ko talaga in-expect na mag-break ng records. Kumbaga, bonus na lang siya. But, I feel honored na nalinya sa mga magagaling na players like sila Jesson (Cid) at Ralph (Soguilon). Parang, I’m part of the history books na,” said Labita, who just like Obejas hails from Tacloban as well.

Last season’s Boys’ MVP Kent Jardin of Adamson University went home with the top rookie plum, highlighted with the gold in the triple jump.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.


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