LEGAZPI CITY — Cagayan Valley Region’s ace jumper Cherry Mae Banatao couldn’t believe that she shattered a four-year old mark in the secondary girls’ high jump by claiming the gold medal in the 2016 Palarong Pambansa with a 1.66-meter performance on Thursday at the Albay Sports and Tourism Complex here.
And the incoming Eleventh Grader of Gamu Rural School should be more surprised if she knew that she was also able to tie the long-standing national juniors’ record previously shared by Aprilyn Laudencia (UAAP, May 1994 and Angelica Janda (Philippine National Games, August 1995).
“Sobrang gulat po kasi hindi ko akalain na makaka-record ako,” said Banatao, 15, of her impressive performance—which she set on her second attempt in the final round—that broke the previous best mark of 1.62m set by National Capital Region’s Maureen Emily Schrijvers in the 2012 Palaro edition in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
A proud daughter of a father, who’s working as a farmer and a carpenter in San Bonifacio Burgos in Isabela, Banatao said she’s hoping their youngest brother, Lexus, 5, should be more inspired to follow her footsteps.
“Ginagaya na po niya ‘yung pag-lundag-lundag ko kaya gusto ko siyang turuan sa high jump,” she said.
Sharing the limelight with Banatao was Davao Region’s star runner Mea Gey Niñura, who claimed her second gold medal in another record-setting fashion.
The 16-year-old Niñura, a 10th Grader from Kapatagan National High School in Davao City, submitted a hand-timed record of 4:39.46, besting the previous best-mark of 4:44.4 set by Northern Mindanao’s Jie Anne Calis during the 2014 Palaro edition in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Calis finished second this time with a time of four minutes and 42.81 seconds while Western Visayas’ Jocelyn Cayetano came in at third at 4:52.67.
Eastern Visayas’ Mariano Masano topped the secondary boys’ 1500m event in four minutes and 7.70 seconds.
In the elementary ranks, Central Luzon’s Conrado Gamasa Jr. clinched the gold in boys’ at 4:33.36 while Western Visayas’ Junelyn Garcia topped the girls’ in 4:51.78.
In other athletics events, Ilocos Region’s Ludivico Dela Cruz Jr. topped the secondary boys’ 110m hurdles (14.99 seconds); Western Visayas’ Ezel Divinagracia ruled the secondary girls’ 110m hurdles (15.39); Calabarzon’s Airon Vincent Pusag won elementary boys’ 110m title (17.26), and; Soccsksargen’s Trisha Mae Arañador claimed elementary girls’ 110m crown (17.02).
In 400m events, Western Visayas’ Jan Vincent Alejandro topped secondary boys’ in 49.59 seconds; Calabarzon’s Jessel Lumapas ruled secondary girls’ 58.03 ticks; Northern Mindanao’s Pearl James Vente in elementary boys’ (55.65), and; Northern Mindanao’s Junalyn Tagaloguin in elementary girls’ (1:00.3). – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports