- October 07, 2019 06:00
By Trisha Marie L. Abuyan and Aimerose C. Atienza
In preparation for University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 84, Far Eastern University (FEU) athletics team improved its roster by sealing the commitment of three standout distant runners from Visayas.
The FEU Charging Tamaraws has been considered as one of the strongest teams in the league, winning 51 titles in the senior’s division and producing top-notch athletes who also represented the country.
With the entrance of the three Visayas homegrowns, FEU continues its philosophy to develop young superstars.
The Visayan pride
There are two new additions for the Charging Lady Tamaraws who both came from the Bacolod Tay Tung High School in Bacolod City.
Known as the 'Fastest Girl' in the 2018 Batang Pinoy (BP) National Championships, Jay Aguillon started her stint in track and field when she was in the fifth grade. However, during her first year in high school, Mr. Jose "Boy" Montalbo chipped in for her to start her exceptional career in the sport.
The 4-foot-11 Bea Delotavo has been mastering the sport for almost eight years.
"At first, I joined track and field just for fun since I was just in fifth grade when I started. As years pass by, I realized that this sport is already a huge part of my life and it is my passion," she shared.
Meanwhile, MJ Maldeguia is the blue-chip recruit for the Charging Tamaraws. The standout from Bata National High School from the same city initially played football, but eventually went to athletics after his mother was concerned about his slim physique.
Finding the next superstars
Different coaches paved the way for these future superstars in their recruitment. With the thought of staying at her hometown for college due to the consequences of the current situation to athletes, Aguillon owes her recruitment to coach Leigh Dano.
“Nag-ask siya [coach Leigh Dano] kay coach Ross Ramero, coach ng FEU kung need nila player. Nag-send ako ng video kay coach Ross... Inofferan niya po agad ako (She asked coach Ross Ramero, the coach of FEU if they need players. Then, I sent a video to coach Ross… He immediately recruited me),” Aguilon said.
FEU had their eyes locked on Maldeguia when he set his 9:03 record during the 2021 Philippines National 3000m Virtual Championships. With coach Reggie Montaño’s help and his dream to play in the UAAP, he locked the deal to play for the green-and-gold.
Delovato’s bridge to the Tamaraws was Montalbo, who also helped her enter the sport.
The 19-year-old runner is honored since FEU’s one of the best schools in the country for her and is also excited to face her sister, Hannah Delovato, who is playing for the De La Salle University (DLSU).
As he represents FEU at the collegiate level, 18-year-old Maldeguia is looking forward to improving his game and strengthening his skills. Besides this, he shared that he wants to help FEU in claiming the championship for the 84th edition of UAAP.
Delotavo is also motivated and excited to learn more from the FEU athletics team to hone her skills in the said sport.
"I will do my very best and train hard to win the fight for me to also help in maintaining the school's good standing in the UAAP," she said.
On the contrary, Aguillon highlights the pressure of being part of the team. The pressure, nonetheless, makes her want to show FEU that she deserved the offer given to her.
“As a rookie, hirap talaga kasi may mga ahead pa sa amin (it is hard since there are more players ahead of us). But I am looking forward to improve my game there and I will do everything to help them in the UAAP,” she stated.
New normal struggles
Pressure and expectations are not the only encounters of these upcoming rookies as they need to face training in a new normal because of the pandemic. Their training is done virtually with their coaches giving them a daily program for their drills, monitoring each’s progress.
“During the pandemic nag-back to zero po ako, hindi makalabas ng bahay pero sa new normal naka adjust na rin (During the pandemic, I was back to zero because I cannot go outside but I already adjusted),” Maldeguia shared his struggle.
The Bacolod ladies also find this new normal challenging since they cannot maximize the training due to a lack of equipment at home. Nevertheless, they both made sure to still keep up notwithstanding the trials.
“Despite the situation that we are all experiencing, I can say that we can still achieve our goal by looking at the brighter side,” Delovato stated positively.
With the entrance of the Visayan standouts, there is no cooling down for the record-holder Morayta-based squad amidst the situation—recharging and running towards the championship again once the UAAP continues.
(Photos courtesy of Jay Aguillon, MJ Maldeguia, Bea Delotavo)