THE return of the Negros divisions and the impressive showing of a few girls powered Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) back to fourth place in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa, which wrapped up at the Quirino Stadium in Ilocos Sur yesterday.

Region 7 collected 26 gold medals, 25 silvers, and 36 bronzes for fourth place in the week-long sporting meet, erasing the sting of last year’s ninth place finish, its lowest ranking. Region 7 had a haul of 20-18-29 last year.

As usual, the National Capital Region (NCR) dominated the event with 100 gold, 70 silver, and 50 bronze medals. Region 4A (55-50-73) and Region 6 (46-45-55) followed.

The closest foe of Region 7, Cordillera Administrative Region (25-22-23,) was one gold behind at fifth place.

Boxer Jerwin Asilo of Bohol Province delivered the final gold for Region 7 with a win over Charles Con-El of Region VI in the bantamweight championship match at the Plaza Burgos last Friday night.

Notably, the female athletes made the most impact for Cviraa this year, accounting for 15 of 20 gold medals in the secondary division and three of six in the elementary level.

Two female athletes carried Cviraa on their shoulders. Archer Phoebe Nicole Amisto captured five gold medals--three in record-breaking fashion--while Cebuana gymnast Daniela Reggie Dela Pisa bagged four gold medals in rhythmic gymnastics.

The return of Negros divisions was also one of the factors as the athletes from Negros handed seven gold medals from archery, elementary girls’ swimming and wrestling. The Negros divisions returned to Cviraa this year after the dissolution of Negros Island Region (NIR).

The athletes from Region 7 also had the 20-day unified training sponsored by the Cebu City government.

Longer training

Cebu City Councilor Augustos Young, who chairs the committee on education, said, though, that he was not that impressed with the outcome of the unified training and plans to make the training longer for next year’s Palarong Pambansa in Davao City.

“We spent P3 million for the unified training, but I was not impressed with the result. I check the playing field and what I observed on our athletes was that they lacked stamina and practice,” said Young, who believes that Region 7 can do better on the next year’s national meet.

In recent years, Region 7 was always at fourth place except in 2015, when it dropped to sixth place and in 2017 when it finished at ninth. The best finish for Cviraa was at second place in the 1994 Palarong Pambansa in Cebu.

The Department of Education (DepEd) Region 7’s assistant regional director Sal Jimenez said that getting back to No.4 means that the initial step that they’re doing is working.

“It’s a total team effort for Cviraa. The return of Negros division has also helped us. From 13 divisions, we’re back to 19 divisions this year. Good thing that it clicked right away,” he said. “We are as one because of the unified training. That added a lot of strength to our delegation. It’s not just Cebu City, the athletes from other divisions went to Cebu City Sports Center for the unified training.”

Meanwhile, the sepak takraw teams added two golds in the girls’ secondary and boys’ elementary Regu.

The elementary team, represented by Fif Bry Cabang, Arjeil Joseph Butalsac and Reitchel Gordoncillo, defeated Region 4A, 21-19, 21-10, while the secondary girls’ of Emarie Provitsado, Joanne Palo, Rachelle Palomar and Jenevie Torrevilas defeated NCR, 24-25, 21-17, 22-20.

The defending champion football elementary boys’, meanwhile, loss to Western Visayas, 2-0, in the championship game at at the Quirino Stadium football pitch last Friday night.

Western Visayas scored the first goal at the 18th minute and added another late in the first half.

“It’s the breaks of the game. We gave up two goals in the first half. In the second half, we had 70 percent of the ball possession and had many attempt at goal but we did not convert,” Region 7 football coach Glen Ramos told Cebu’s sports scribes.

In badminton, Hailen Reeze Diaz bagged silver medal in the elementary girls’ singles, while the pair Anthone Pete Abellana and Carl Bernard Bejasa added silver in the secondary boys’ doubles at the Vigan City Convention Center yesterday.

Abellana, Bejasa, Mike Juriel Maratas and Wileyto Yray also won silver medal in the boys’ secondary team tie.