AN EIGHT gold-rush on the final day propelled Cagayan de Oro to its best second-place finish in the 2019 Batang Pinoy Mindanao qualifying leg at Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City on Saturday, February 9.
Trailing General Santos City by just a single gold on the penultimate day, the Cagayan de Oro bets struck hard on the final day of the eight-day battle for Mindanao's finest athletes 15 years and below by winning 3 gilts in badminton, one gold each in chess and athletics, plus three more championship victories in beach volley boys, softball girls and basketball girls.
“Thrilling kaayo sa final day of action, though optimistic kita nga mag-improve from third to second place kay wala na sa mga ballgame finals ang General Santos nga didto sab sila kusog sa individual events. First time nagpadala og daghang atleta ang Cagayan de Oro sa Batang Pinoy and first time usab nag second place kay sa una layo kaayo kita sa medal standing overall,” said city sports chief Jaymar Rivera, who spearheaded the 249-strong Cagayan de Oro delegation of athletes, coaches and officials in the annual sports conclave.
In the unofficial tabulation by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Davao City hauled 56 golds, 39 silvers, and 58 bronzes to retain the overall championship of the Batang Pinoy 2019 Mindanao qualifying leg, just two golds short of last year’s harvest in Oroquieta City.
Cagayan de Oro was at distant second with 33-23-41 medal haul followed by General Santos City (27-33-31) third, Davao del Norte (24-25-24) fourth, and Koronadal City (22-12-9) fifth.
The PSC has yet to release the final official medal tally as of press time.
As kiddie chess sensation Ruelle “Tawing” Canino completed a rare-sweep of the three golds at stake in chess on Saturday's blitz event and Barangay Balubal pride Rona Bacus picked her second gold in long jump competition, the badminton wards of Eric Miguel and fellow coaches Ramil Reformina and Efren Pollentes netted three golds to make it impossible for General Santos to cling on to its grip for the second place overall.
Zaki Layno of Xavier University, Neil Omega Jr. of St. Mary's Academy joined forces with the Oro shuttlers from Corpus Christi School in a medal-altering effort for badminton event.
CCS Knight Jamal Pandi pocketed the gold in 13-under boys singles before teaming up with Omega in bagging the gold in 13-under boys doubles. This, as Corpus Christi's Joaquin Pollentes played alongside Layno in clinching the gold in 13-15 under boys doubles.
Pollentes grabbed the silver in singles event for 13-15 under boys as well as the Corpus Christi pair of Jasmine Reformina and Kate Ocladina in the 13-under girls doubles.
“In our last Palarong Pambansa stint here at Tagum City's RDR gym buwenas naka-gold atong CdeO players so, pag-start pa lang sa dula confident na ko nga maka gold ang mga bata sa Batang Pinoy,” an ecstatic Miguel said.
Capping a productive gold-hunt was Team Cagayan de Oro triumphant finish in basketball girls, beach volley boys and softball girls.
Cagayan de Oro’s popular basketball couple Catrina June Pong-Biongcog and Ronald Rey “Boning” Biongcog proved that they’re not good only in playing the game as they steered the girls and boys to a gold and silver campaign each in the rugged court.
“Si Catrina gyod ang nagkugi supporting cast lang ko pero worth the effort gyod ang medalya nga nadaug sa kakapoy nga among nasinati sa Batang Pinoy,” Boning said.
Equally-elated, according to city sports consultant Rocky Calingin, is Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno who got surprised when the city bets surpassed its primary third-place target in Batang Pinoy Mindanao.
“Of course, nalipay ang mayor but he needs the metrix for us to gauge the efficiency of our respective entries in the individual and team events. Kailangan pud na para mas ma-improve pa gyod atong performance next time around especially nga ang host or ang dako nga region sa Davao atong nasundan sa overall championship,” Calingin said.