AS THE NATIONAL Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 got back on its usual track after the pandemic, athletes from the Lion’s Den geared up and fought for Mendiola’s crown.
Opened by this season’s host, Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), the NCAA Season 98 lit up its torch last September 10, 2022, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. This season pursued its usual athletic collegiate activities by bringing other sporting events such as swimming, track and field, chess, and taekwondo besides basketball and volleyball.
Bedan student-athletes relived the pride of the Mighty Red School, and went all out in their respective leagues, bringing home multiple trophies and medals back to the Lion’s Den.
The revamp: A whole new squad for the Red Lions
The Red Lions entered this season with their new head coach, Yuri Escueta, a former Red Cub that came back to the pride, to enhance the techniques and training styles of the team as well as utilizing rookie players to their advantage.
The one-two backcourt combination of Jacob Cortez and Gab Cometa elevated the offense for the Red Lions. Together with the ferocious defense and tactical inside presence of their main big men Damie Cuntapay and Clifford Jopia.
The Mendiola-based squad secured the down spot all season long, enough to make the final four cutoffs and challenge the top-seeded College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Blazers.
With the eagerness to enter the finals, the Lions never stepped on the break and slowed down keeping their momentum running; however, they concluded the season with a single marker shy against the top-seeded Blazers and finished fourth overall.
Despite the strong final four appearance of the team, numerous players left the Den as Cometa, Justin Sanchez, and Tony Ynot took another path and decided to hang their jerseys and enter the pro-leagues and even Rhayyan Amsali, who’s on hiatus, also switched teams and left the University.
Nonetheless, various young talents from Dumaguete are there to watch out for; as Stephen Garupil, Marky Winters, and Matthew Jucom will provide new faces of bravery for the Red Lions.
Moreover, the return of RC Camilag and the transfer of Bismarck Lina, alongside Bryan Sjonia, could be the next key players of Coach Yuri. Although they still must seat it out the next season since there is a need to fill a year of residency before enabling them to play.
History made: the Red Spikers’ long-awaited finals appearance
The San Beda Red Spikers shook the entire NCAA volleyball arena with their undaunted performance all-season, and hard-hitting finish as 1st runner-up.
The rookie-filled squad of Coach Ariel Dela Cruz went beyond their set expectations as they served as a threat to everyone in the league. Red Spikers claimed a finals appearance while breaking the barriers of the EAC Generals and Arellano University (AU) Chiefs as the fourth-seeded team in the league.
Super Rookie, Kenrod Umali consistently took the flashes and spotlight of the stadium with his hard hits, coupled with Team Captain Jerome Lopez who set the phase of their favorable games. Ralph Cabalsa also stood up for the team, scoring double digits in their final run.
Hereunder, Red Spikers met the reigning champions, the University of Perpetual Health System Dalta (UPHSD) Altas in the finals of the league having a tight fifth setter match in games two and three.
The vicious hits and spikes of the Altas overpowered the Red Spikers and bagged their three-peat victory in three hard-fought battles.
Nonetheless, the Red Spikers made history by snapping the 32-winning streak of the Altas during the season, bringing home not only a silver medal but a hard-earned statement and respect.
Lady Red Spikers fail to impress
This season, the Lady Red Spikers fell short of their own goals and aspirations.
Coach Ariel, their new Head Coach, mentioned that the lack of time made it hard for the ladies to adjust to their training techniques and routines.
The team appeared to be overwhelmed by the performances of the majority of their opponents, failing to execute a superior attack and defense.
Stellar performances were still brought by Klein Abraham, a rookie, who became instrumental in keeping the Lady Red Spikers’ heads held high though, it was still not enough to keep their winning hopes alive to reach the final four.
Lady Red Spikes only won one of their nine outings in the elimination round and placed second to the last in the league
Red and Lady Red Spikers surfed for luck
A stunning performance under the sun and within the sand, the San Beda Red Spikers and Lady Red Spikers showed grit and determination by having an all-out performance during this season’s beach volleyball tournament.
The Red Spikers were bannered by Aj Rus and Ryan Rosman while the Lady Red Spikers are then represented by Trisha Paras and Maxine Tayag.
Working on duos, the two teams finished with an identical standing as both the Red and Lady Red Spikers entered the semi-final round.
However, trying their luck in entering the finals, both teams’ perseverance was not enough, and exited the sands as a fourth-place seed.
A different and determined San Beda spikers battled all day long and challenged their opponents to their last sets.
Even after failing to secure medals, the San Beda Volleyball teams successfully performed an all-out performance.
19 and nine-peat dynasty: Red Sea Lions dominate NCAA pools
The San Beda Red Sea Lions made it to the summit of the pyramid defending its titles in the men’s and women’s divisions at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool in Malate on their thee-day event last December 1-3, 2022.
Being back after three years of the pandemic, the Red Sea Lions still proved themselves to be the mighty Sea Lions as they defended their longest winning streak as they bagged the championship title with a 19-Peat and 9-Peat crown for the Men’s and Women’s divisions respectively.
With the three-day event, points garnered by each division were 1,496 points for the men’s and 1,573.50 points for women’s in their respective divisions.
In the Women’s event, crowned Most Outstanding Swimmer was Amber Cawaling, topping six events: 100m LC freestyle, 400 LC freestyle, 200m LC freestyle, 100m LC backstroke, 800m LC backstroke, and 50m LC freestyle.
Additionally, Mary Anne Velasco, Stefany Sa-ac, and Angel Lyn Docabo were part of the top teams in women’s 400m LC freestyle relay, while Sa-ac, Docabo, and Sophia Bulanhagui topped the women’s 400m LC medley relay.
Meanwhile, one of the key figures who led the men’s squad to successfully defend their title was Fritz Rodriguez. He topped four events which are 200m LC IM, 50m breaststroke, 50m LC butterfly, 100m LC breaststroke, and received the Most Bemedalled Swimmer, Record Breaker, and Most Outstanding Swimmer plums for this season.
Red Jins show fire and blood in online tourney
The Bedan Taekwondo Team showed their steadfast performance in the online taekwondo tournament which was participated by only six colleges and universities and dominated the Free-Kicking event of the league.
Alfritz Victoria Arevalo, emerged as one of the top notchers of Taekwondo who claimed the gold in Standard Poomsae. Likewise, Red Jin Michael Christian Macario was a gold medalist in the Poomsae Freestyle Senior Division.
On Speed-Kicking of the Junior’s Division, Red Jins Ignatius Vicente Pinera, Philip Joshua Lee, and Louellle Mamaclay were announced as champions. As for the Seniors Division, both Jack Janggo Natividad and Christian Neil Arches obtained gold medals. While Lady Ren Jins Princess Angela Doria bagged gold too in speed kicking Women’s Bantamweight Division.
Overall, the Red Jins ranked first in the Free-Kicking Men’s division while the Women’s stood third. As for the Poomsae event of the Senior Division, Red Jins women landed 5th, while Red Jins men 4th. To top it off, Taekwondo Juniors Divisions were held as champions.
After their season, the Red Jins opened their doors to young aspirants who wanted to be part of the team as they conducted an open try-out to gather skillful talented kickers.
Red Tracksters are ‘back on track’
Running men of the San Beda Red Tracksters raced and sped through the Pasig PhilSports Complex’s lanes in their two-day event last April 19 to 20.
Setting themselves as they once again entered the tournament, their new Head Coach, Giovanni Andya, experienced difficulty with a limited time for preparations and training.
Red Tracksters received a consolation award, as they fell short of winning an overall accumulated reward.
The event was dominated by Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers and the Mapua University (MU) Cardinals who competed head-to-head for the gold and silver medals, respectively.
Red Corps nab fifth place in cheerleading
The NCAA Cheerleading Competition was also one of the anticipated events in the league wherein multiple schools participated and showed their heart-pounding routines and loudest cheers in representing their colleges and universities.
Showing the lion’s spirit while roaring loud and proud, the San Beda Red Corps wowed the crowd during the much-awaited cheerleading showdown of various colleges and universities at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
With Kim Neil Atienza as the team captain, Red Corps placed 5th rank, achieving a total score of 204.
Hailed as this year’s champions are the cheerleading champ of AU Chiefsquad, keeping their momentum as they secure their 4th NCAA Cheerleading title.
Nonetheless, the Red Corps’ performance still impressed its coaches considering that they only had limited time to prepare and practice for the said competition.
At length, Coach Kurt de Guzman, Assistant Athletic Director, announced the rebranding of the old athletics program for the next season. He cited that the Lion’s den does not just build champions but also, good character of every Bedan student-athlete.
According to his previous interview, “Kailangan mapakita natin by next season that we’re on right track pa rin. Not only going for a championship for basketball, but going for the general championship,” as he expresses his expectations for the whole athletic community in the Lion’s den.
Coach Kurt added that athletes shouldn’t just compete in the league for mere participation but rather, to compete and give their best “If you compete to NCAA, you must compete for the best.”
With greater pressure on the coaches and athletes, the San Beda’s Athletics Program assured the Bedan community that they are vying to reclaim the general championships next season by providing support programs on how the coaches can achieve their goals.
(with Dencel Mauri Fernandez and Melaiza Andrea Flores)
Photos by Paolo Ornos and Gian Marcel Chiu