HOST school UST ended Season 79 of the UAAP the Thomasian way.
Nine months ago, the University gave student-athletes from the eight participating UAAP schools a taste of the “Thomasian experience” by letting them pass through the Arch of the Centuries followed by a flamboyant pyromusical and a “Dare To Dream” concert a la Paskuhan.
Last May 20, a three-minute fireworks display above the UST Main Building signaled the transition to the league’s 80th edition.
Those nine months saw a season full of changes with UST at the helm of the country’s most prestigious athletic league.
First, it was the first time a host school held the opening ceremonies separately from the first day of the men’s basketball tournament since Ateneo de Manila University opened Season 74 in 2011 at the Marikina Sports Park.
Season 79 also introduced ballroom dancing as a demonstration sport and the UAAP board, then headed by Institute of Physical Education and Athletics Director Ermito de Sagon, implemented a new age limit ruling which was reduced from 25 to 24 years old.
Hosting the UAAP also ignited a change in the University’s athletic performance.
UST, which lost the general championship to De La Salle University by a mere two points last year, successfully reclaimed the overall crown, its 41st, by a distance. UST scored 312 points to dethrone La Salle which scored just 271 points.
The University hauled in seven gold, 10 silver and two bronze medals for a total of 19 out of the league’s 29 events. The last time UST won more than six gold medals was during the 2011 to 2012 season.
Ironically, UST’s most famous team, the Growling Tigers, suffered its worst finish since the Final Four era at the last place.
Despite the Tigers’ downfall, UST reaped gold medals in the men’s and women’s beach volleyball, men’s and women’s judo, men’s taekwondo, men’s table tennis and women’s athletics.
The University nabbed silver in baseball, softball, women’s football, poomsae, women’s taekwondo, women’s table tennis, men’s fencing, men’s athletics and in the men’s and women’s lawn tennis.
After a five-year Final Four drought, the Golden Tigresses redeemed themselves and clinched bronze along with the Female Fencers.
The Tiger Spikers, Golden Booters, Male and Female Woodpushers and Male and Female Tigersharks all settled for fourth-place finishes while UST’s badminton teams landed fifth alongside the Growling Tigresses.
The UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which finished inside the top three in the last two years, slid to fourth place behind an Indian-inspired routine. UST Prime, meanwhile, retained its bronze-medal finish from last year after showcasing a Spanish-themed performance in the street dance competition before the closing ceremony proper.
“Go For Great” will be the official theme of Season 80 under the supervision of new hosts Far Eastern University.