When the dust cleared, the Red and White still remained as kings.
After getting two of the three gold medals in the three-men play in the last two days, the University of the East Red Warriors claimed their fifth straight UAAP Men’s Fencing crown, Saturday afternoon at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion Arena.
During the previous day, last season’s Rookie of the Year CJ Concepcion had anchored the Recto-based fencers to another team sabre title over the University of Santo Tomas. Sabreurs from the De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University took home the bronzes. The latter of the third-placers won over the University of the Philippines in the quarterfinals match.
UST took one gold back that afternoon, after Noelito Jose led the charge for the home side in the team epee event over Nathaniel Perez and UE. The Fighting Maroons, with UAAP 77 Rookie of the Year Armstrong Tibay in the lead, got one of the bronzes. Ateneo took the other second runner-up award.
Nonetheless, with the silver medal in their pocket, the UE had virtually bagged their fifth consecutive title as well.
Thus, the Red Warriors left nothing to chance as Perez outclassed perennial foil team rivals UP in the final match. UST and Ateneo settled for the bronzes after succumbing to the two foil powerhouses.
The Diliman-based Maroons took the second runner-up trophy overall on the strength of the four-medal haul of Apa Rondain.
UP freshman Gerry Hernandez also took one of the Rookie of the Year citations, sharing it Rv Libarios of the Ateneo.
UST’s stronghold of the epee events clinched them the first runner-up finish, with national team mainstay Jose on target. The back-to-back individual epee champion also plunged into foil in the team event.
The biggest winner, however, was the event host UE. Perez reclaimed the Most Valuable Player award after the Red Warrior captain participated in all the four mints the champions registered — one of which is his individual foil title.
The graduating fencing prodigy was pleased of what he accomplished in hus five years for UE. He recalled, “Unang-una masaya kasi nung rookie ako, nakuha namin [ulit] yung championship sa men’s division. Masaya kami kasi medyo ineexpect ng mga coach namin na makukuha namin.”
“Overwhelming,” Perez reacted on his five championships. “Wala na kong mahihiling pa. Salamat, salamat, salamat kay Lord.”
He shared that he felt the same after getting his third and last MVP award.
“Masaya kasi bihira lang sa UAAP, makagawa sa UAAP ng [tatlong MVP]. Even Alyssa Valdez, thrice lang siyang nag-MVP. So, wow ka-level ko siya.”