MANILA, Philippines – Giovanni Andaya could hardly believe what his team had accomplished on Saturday, February 27, as the little-regarded Arellano University Chiefs won the NCAA track and field tournament at the Philsports Arena.
“I did not expect to win, only second place. But we took the middle distance and got the pole vault,” said Giovanni Andaya in a private message on Facebook late Saturday, hours after steering the Chiefs to their first athletics championship.
He became assistant coach to his father, veteran mentor Rosito Andaya, in 2013 and assumed the reins in 2014.
“I owe this to my assistant coaches. They did great things to make this happen,” he added.
Andaya's team won by 120 points over second-placer Mapua. He ended the 5-year title reign ofJose Rizal University, which is coached by Jojo Posadas, who was the long-time assistant to Giovanni’s father at FEU.
Third was JRU, fourth University of Perpetual Help and fifth, College of St Benilde, powered by Julian Fuentes’ 7.42 long jump, which makes him the country’s top long jumper going into the National Open.
But the big margin masks the luck Arellano had. Mapua was not able to dominate the events it had been favored to get points in like high jump, 4x100 and 4x400 relays, shot put.
“It was a very exciting competition. Each team had its strong events but eventually lost it to others because other athletes were lucky to get it from them,” said former national head coach Joseph Sy of College of St. Benilde.
Legacy of track success
Arellano leaned on the triple golds by Jimmuel Camino - who was discovered by the elder Andaya 3 years ago - in the 1,500, 3000-meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters. Peter Gonzales, delivered the pole vault gold with a measure of 4.06 meters.
The elder Andaya, boosted by his unmatched work ethic, developed a long list of superstars which included former two-time Asian Games gold medalist Lydia de Vega, many-time Southeast Asian Games long jump queen Elma Muros and the late Abdulkadir Guiapar, winner of the 400m hurdles at the inaugural 1973 Asian championships in Marikina.
For many years until he got sick in 2014, the bronze-skinned, cap-wearing Rosito Andaya would be at the Rizal oval or Philsports arena at 6 am overseeing his athletes, correcting their form through soft-spoken orders or shouting his commands for 90 minutes. Then he would return at 3 pm for the afternoon session, which would run until 5 pm.
Giovanni has his father’s passion for athletics but he said he has lots to learn as the elder Andaya was famed for his ability to size up talents, develop and steer them to upset wins at the national level.
Andrew Pirie, a track and field statistician, said: “He doesn’t have the same experience as his dad. but the boy is learning. He is very much like his old man. He refuses to give up.”
Whether Bunny will walk the same paths as his father remains to be seen, but said his father told him when he started coaching:” Love your job and prove that you’re worth it,” recalled Bunny Andaya. – Rappler.com