BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – While the athletes have yet to start their gold hunt in 34 fronts, the Negrenses hogged the spotlight yesterday as they ruled the fun run events that marked the official opening of the 2011 POC-PSC National Games at the New Government Center here.
Himamaylan’s Eric Panique ran true to form in the premier men’s 10K run while Escalante’s teener Stephany Cadosale pulled off an upset over veteran Marecil Maquilan in the distaff side to lead the winner’s circle.
A native of EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, Panique broke away from rival Jason Agravante of Silay in the final kilometer to submit a winning 32:59.59. Agravante checked in at 33:03.50 to settle for second, followed by Escalante’s Joel Alcorin (33:41.94).
“Marathon talaga ang event k national team (Marathon is really my event and I want to make it as part of Team Phl as a marathoner),” said Panique, who finished 16th overall in the Hong Kong International Marathon last February.
Cadosale, a 16-year-old incoming freshman at University of St. La Salle, stole the thunder from the more experienced Maquilan entering the turning point to dominate with a 41:50.07. Sorala, South Cotabato native Maquilan clocked 42:14.52 for runner-up honors while Manapla’s Phoebe Ann Lava placed third with 45:51.44.
Brothers Ryan and Rowel Hulleza made a 1-2 finish to lead the winners in the other events.
Ryan Hulleza of Himamaylan topped the men’s 5K (16:10.53) while big brother Rowel, representing Cadiz City, took second (16:37.33), followed by Himamaylan’s Anthony Babiera (16:40.18).
Bago City’s Louielyn Pamati-an (21:07.79) bagged the top honors in women’s 5K, reaching the finish line ahead of Manila-AFP’s Ellen Tolentino (21:26.82), and Calatrava’s Ronalyn Hiligan (22.16.72).
In the 3K, the top three runners were champion Jezrael Boyatas of Philippine Navy (10:37.20) and second and third placers Romulo Balinas of Bacolod (10:37.76), and John Montalbo of Bago (10:54.36) in the men’s; and women winners Felrose Valdez of Mindanao (12:37.05) and runners-up Mae Therese Gula of Bago (13:01.27) and Lyann Dilema of Bacolod (13:35.22).
Some 1,500 runners, led by Azkals heartthrobs Phil and James Younghusband took part in the races that served as kick-off activity of the PNG as well as the Philippines’ celebration of the Olympic Day Run.