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Seniors Rodolfo Reyes, Jocel Ninobla send UST back to poomsae glory

After ceding the title to the De La Salle University last year, UAAP poomsae powerhouse and former champions University of Santo Tomas had one mission: to give national team standouts Rodolfo Reyes, Jr. and Jocel Ninobla a fitting farewell with a title.

It was the two graduating seniors — at the prodding of head coach and former World Champion Rani Ortega — who sent the crown bac to España, Tuesday morning at the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagle Gym.

Ninobla, a member of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games bronze-winning women’s team, bagged the gold medal in the individual female event with a score of 8.250 in the finals. Defending champion Rinna Babanto of La Salle slipped to second place at 8.165, while Pat Jubelag of the University of the Philippines maintained her bronze finish at 8.115.

The other member of that SEAG women’s team, Juvenile Crisostomo of the Far Eastern University, settled for fourth this time with a 7.950 mark in the semifinals.

Reyes, Jr., a double medalist in the said biennial Games, successfully defended his individual male gold, even as former Thomasian and now-Atenean Marvin Gabriel returned to action in the UAAP.

The senior Thomasian copped the gold with a huge total of 8.435, with Gabriel finishing at distant second at 8.270. McAvyngyr Alob kept his bronze in the event after getting 8.130 in the medal round.

Needing just one gold to effectively seal the retun to the throne, both Reyes, Jr. and Ninobla saved the best for their last-ever event. The Tiger jins bested their opponents in the two required forms to reclaim the poomsae championship for the school. The pair ended with 8.395 in the final round, which was enough to fend off the other two finalists.

Green Jins Enrico Mella and Angelica Gaw got the silver with 8.250, while Fighting Maroons Jayboy Buenavista and Nikki Oliva bagged the bronze with a close 8.235 score.

With the overall crown already decided, the race for the other podium spots was left to contest.

Eventually, it was the lone gold of Far Eastern University that clinched them a place on the awards’ platform for the first time. Crisostomo, along with teammates Winlou Dela Cerna and Ardee Landrito snagged the gold in the team female category with a whopping 8.330 in the medal round. Last year’s event champs UP settled for the silver, as Olivam, Jubelag, and Aina Callos managed just an 8.165 score in the finals. UST took their last medal of the day, a br onze for Abenir, Salceda, and Limos, after scoring 7.900.

In the last event of the championships, last year’s champions La Salle had their last say.

With the crown lost, the trio of Mella, Alob, and Daniel Sembrano managed to put the Green and White on the podium after winning the team male event. The La Sallians garnered 8.320 from the judges to secure the gold. Semifinal’s top seeds Maroons had to settle for the silver after Buenavista, Lyan Llanto, and Tuto Sandoy, only scored 8.200 in the finals. FEU rounded up their campaign with another medal, a bronze, as Espinosa, Salcedo, and Lina got 7.970.

This title is the third for the Tiger Jins, which is the most number of crowns in the UAAP since the discipline became an official sport. UST had two titles prior when poomsae was still a demonstration event.

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