MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) captured back-to-back men's titles after taking care of business with two golds on the final day of the UAAP Season 85 Athletics Championships, Sunday at the Philsports Track and Field Oval in Pasig City.
The Fighting Maroons collected a 20th crown in the event and the first for the season after ending with 358 points.
On the other hand, University of Santo Tomas (UST) reclaimed the women's title after ceding it to Far Eastern University (FEU) in Season 81. The Female Tiger Tracksters claimed their ninth tiara in the event to give the school its fourth for the season.
"Masayang-masaya kasi para ito sa mga athletes na nag-sacrifice during pandemic, na hindi nila alam kung makakalaro pa ulit sila o hindi. So, itong competition na ito ay napakalaking bagay para sa kanila," UP head coach Rio Dela Cruz said.
Eduard Flores zoomed past the field to take the 3000-meter steeplechase title with 9:35.52 over University of the East's (UE) James Orduna with 9:42.95 and National University's (NU) Erwin Mancao with 9:45.83.
Season Most Valuable Player Rhyan Labita then kickstarted the 4x400m relay quartet to the gold with 3:18.18 along with teammates Edwin Giron, JC Yuzon, and Ferdinand Tridanio. Adamson University's Denmark Dacunes, Jarreld Jaravata, John Erick Martir, and Edgar Carado took the silver with 3:22.71, while NU's Marc Sister, Van Alexander Obejas, Hiro Alamo, and John Lloyd Cabalo bagged the bronze with 3:23.32.
Labita previously completed the sprint treble of the 100-200-400m and the 400m hurdles, before taking the first-runner cudgels as well in the 4x100m relay.
UST's Jhon Ballelos ruled the hammer throw with a heave of 43.09 meters, while NU's John Nicholan Pangan and UP's Ed Delina rounded the podium with 41.76 and 40.97, respectively.
Edgie Garbin ended the campaign for UE with its lone gold after reigning over the 110m hurdles with 14.84, which is slightly ahead of FEU's Tochukwu Onoura Okolo's 14.94. Obejas took the bronze with a close 14.98 finish.
Decathlon champion Allen Mationg of FEU won the top rookie plum in the men's side.
The Bulldogs rose to second place with 280 points, while former seven-peat champions Tamaraws rounded the team rostrum with 224.
On the women's side, the Female Tiger Tracksters gathered enough points to keep De La Salle University behind for the title.
"We had to work," UST coach Manny Calipes said. "Kasi nag-go-gold nga kami, dikit-dikit naman 'yung placing ng La Salle. Everyone should work together. Hindi pwedeng isa lang kailangan tumutulong. Kung may gusto kang mangyari, it's up to you. Kaming mga coaches guide lang. Maganda naman yung pinakita nila nung Day 4 and Day 5."
The Lady Green Tracksters opened the last push for a comeback with a gold in the long jump courtesy of Trexie De La Torre's 5.78-meter mark. Adamson's Diana Hurano and NU's Alexie Caimoso ended second and third with 5.60 and 5.54, respectively.
Caimoso then ruled the 100m hurdles with 15.43s, just two one-hundredths of a second ahead of FEU's Sunshine Silvestre's 15.45. UST's Justine Mae Catindoy then provided the boost to her squad's title closeout with 15.58 and the bronze.
The NU standout emerged as the Most Valuable Player in the women's division, with two golds in the heptathlon and high jump, to go with this gold in the hurdles and the bronze in the long jump.
UP's Abegail Manzano took the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 11 minutes and 50.58 seconds. The 2-3 finish of Thomasians Camila Tubiano and Edralene Celestial at 11:57.02 and 12:04.00, respectively, virtually sealed the title for their school.
Manzano earlier won the 5000m gold and the 1500m bronze to take the Rookie of the Year honors.
La Salle then just closed their rousing run in the season with a new UAAP record in the 4x400m relay with Hannah Delotavo, Bernalyn Bejoy, Erica Ruto, and Jessel Lumapas with a time of 3:50.33, breaking the previous mark of UE's Carmela Leonardo, Neslee Angco, Alloydia Devoma, and Jenny Rose Rosales set in Season 76 by just 0.03 seconds.
The Lady Green Tracksters ended as runners-up with 288 points, while the Fighting Maroons fended off the Lady Bulldogs for the third-place finish with 184.