PREPARATION remains the key in unseating Baguio City as the over-all champion of the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association.

With the annual regional sports event kicking off today at the Baguio Athletic Bowl, all representatives of the different provinces in the Cordillera region voiced out their preparation will be a huge factor in their weeklong campaign hoping to boost their medal standings.

Benguet remains to be the toughest contender for Baguio, building up their athletes in combative sports hoping to at least narrow the gold medal tally in this year’s competition.

“We have to rely on combative sports kasi parehong one gold medal lang ang tally sa ball games at individual events,” said Benguet’s Arthur Calvin Vargas.

Baguio took home 212 gold medals including 91 silver and 79 bronze medals to retain the over-all championship in the last 10 staging of CARAA with Benguet, which placed second, took home, 43 golds, 93 silvers, and 87 bronze.

Ifugao, which placed third after winning 11 gold medals, 19 silver and 25 bronze medals, hopes to dethrone long time first runner-up Benguet with their improved athletes in the combative sports.

Sports supervisor Anthony Gallangi said they hope to improve their standings and increase their medal haul for this year.

“It’s very unfortunate that we have inadequate practice and the kinds of equipments that we have are not as good as the ones with other provinces,” added Gallangi.

Mountain Province, who fell to number four last year vowed to beat Ifugao in the over-all standings and hopes to get lucky in the competition following their long preparation and intensive training.

“We will still rely on combative sports, athletics and batted ball games for our medal haul,” said education supervisor Howard Poking.

Kalinga, Abra, and Apayao, which placed 5th, 6th and 7th, respectively vowed to improve their over-all standings.

Kalinga sports supervisor Alfredo Buaden noted the lack of skilled trainer and proper equipments in the province but athletes made up by training in nearby Tuguegarao to hone their skills.

Arthur Ferrer of Abra also noted the lack of quality equipments compared to Baguio City but made up by hiring top notch trainors to train their athletes.

Ferrer said Abra remains optimistic they are still the team to beat in basketball and other ball games.

Apayao, which flunked to last after its third and fourth place finishes in 2014 and 2015 edition vowed to make an improvement from their two gold medal output last year.

Marlon Trumpo of DepEd Apayao said the athletes have been training for the last 25 days and hopes to generate medals from athletics which was among their top medal producers in the past three regional meets. (Roderick Osis with a report from Jean Doree May Ananayo/UC Intern)