Week 1: Hard work pays off Donovant 7.64m Long Jump (rev 1)
23 year old Fil-Heritage Long Jumper Donovant Arriola (aka. Donovant Grant) was rewarded after an up and down twelve months with a big personal best of 7.64m (25 feet 1/4 inch).
The indoor mark set at the New Mexico Invitational at Albuquerque on February 6 actually broke the national indoor record which was set by Henry Dagmil at the Asian Indoor Championships last year in Huangzhou of 7.43m
“Track legends such as Henry Dagmil. and Joebert Delicano just to name a few have being very supportive of me making my dream” said a delighted Donovant.
“I hope to play on the same meet as Henry”. said Donovant.
It hasn’t always been easy for Donovant whose Filipina mother passed away when he was very young. The 6’1 jumper who learnt about the opportunities to represent the Philippines from his buddy Eric Cray who is from the same town of El Paso.
Donovant whose previous best was 7.53m, made an appearance at the 2014 National Games in Pasig but after straining his hamstring could only finish a miserable ninth place in 6.67m. However the hard work put in by Donovont, strong support from his family and strong belief from his coach Jamaican former Olympian Lacena Golding Clarke he managed to get through the toughest of times.
Statistically speaking Donovant leap was the 4th of all time by a Filipino with Dagmil (7.99m), Joebert Delicano (7.75m), and Nino Ramirez (7.64m , 1936).
The Three Way Dance
With SEA Games selection for athletics due to draw to a close at the end of March. It will be an interesting three way show down at the National championships in March. Three time SEA Games Gold Medalist, Olympian and National Record Holder Henry Dagmil, 34 will be the main candidate here with his best performance of 7.80m in 2013, and 7.56m in 2014.
Also among the mix is Benigno Marayag, 29 the 2011 SEA Games Bronze medalist who has a PB of 7.61m and best leap in the last 6 months of 7.57m.
On paper right now its Dagmil (7.80 defending champion rule) and Donovont (7.64 indoors) going to the SEA Games. With any other contender needing over 7.65m to displace them unless ofcourse they raise the standard even higher.
Dagmil, Donovont and Marayag have all leapt over 7.53m (SEA Games Bronze). The order of placing at the national open may also be something the PATAFA considers in the selection process.
Regardless or not whether he holds onto the second spot for the SEA Games, due to his age Donovant will be a name that will undoubtedly represent the Philippines for many years to come and a worthy successor to the two gentlemen mentioned above. He is young enough to present a challenge to 2009, 2011 SEA Games Champion Supanara Sukasvasti (born 1992) of Thailand for many years to come.
Cray lowers mark
With the focus this week going on Donovont, another National Indoor mark fell during this meet. Eric Shauwn Cray took his 200m Indoor record from a few weeks ago down to 21.43, and also clocked a smart 48.28 for the 400m indoors. Cray is eyeing the 400 Hurdles and the relays for the SEA Games. The difficult placement of the 200m at the SEA Games makes its hard to balance this event with the busy schedule ahead.
Unheralded Smith shakes off a miserable start to the season
A few months ago Marisa ‘Isang’ Smith made it her goal to qualify for the SEA Games in the womens 1500m. The most unlikely of ALL candidates in the Fil-Heritage program the 28 year old Massage Therapist from New York who had last year acquired a Philippine Passport and contacted me via the POC. Smith had been a 56.01 400m runner several years ago in College (like six years ago in fact). She had also a time of 61.41 for 400 Hurdles before.
However it was the gutsy risk to move up to an event she had never tried before the 1500m which raised hairs on the back of my neck. Still i was willing to see how things panned out. Her first run in January in the mile she had only timed a 5:27 in the mile having several leg problems. It was a rather miserable start to the season and only the bravest of the brave would have carried on after this set back. However last weekend at the Boston University Scarlett and White meet Smith improved her performance significantly to 5:07 indoors (which converts to 4:45 but maybe a bit faster on an outdoor around as much as a 4:42). A significant improvement.
Her journey will continue at the national open where she will compete, she must hit a time 4:32.33 to make the team.
Week 3: PB for Alyana
Very few members of the Fil-Heritage program competed this weekend and unlike previous weeks nobody made it past the SEA Games standards or set national records.
Alyana Nicolas set a new personal best in the Pole Vault with a leap of 3.52m, improving on her 3.50m performance the other week at the Washington Invite in Seattle. She is still outside the 3.80m qualifying standard for the SEA Games with the deadline as March 22 for selection.
17 year old Kyla Richardson (98) (PB 11.93, in 2013), clocked 7.87 at the Simplot Games at Pocatello, Idaho. The performance puts her in around 12.11 shape for the 100m. Richardson who struggled with injuries last year is trying to make the promising womens 4×100 relay team at the SEA Games. The Season leader for the Philippines in the 60m is Princess Joy Griffey with 7.54 (around 11.78 on calculation).
PNG Champion Tyler Ruiz opened with a leap of 2.05m at Claremont, he requires a leap of 2.13m (Bronze 2013) to qualify for the SEA Games.
Meanwhile Fil-Canadian Jonelle Halog, 20 who holds the Philippine Junior Record clocked 7.17 and 7.15 at a meet in Ottawa as well as a 36.94.
*Please note only athletes who have Filipino Passports can be considered for the Fil-Heritage Program
Week 4: Bryan Mercado takes season lead for Philippines 10.72
Bryan Mercado (USC College) snatched the Season lead for the Philippines in the Mens 100m with a time of 10.72 +1.5 at the Rossi Relays in Los Angeles. A pleasing start to Mercado who had to battle a heavily overcast dull day to clock the fastest time in the meet. Mercado won’t be able to attend the Philippine National Open due to NCAA Scholarship commitments.
“I would love to race in the Philippines, but i have to finish school first. Perhaps before the 2017 SEA Games”
Mercado, 22 who has a personal best record of 10.56 set last year in June is eyeing a spot on the new revamped Men’s 4×100 meter relay for the 2015 SEA Games.
Another Fil-Heritage program athlete eyeing a relay spot is Brandon Thomas from Texas, Thomas who hasn’t ran for three years (10.59 PB) clocked a rather cumbersome 11.11s (+2.2)
Yeah bittersweet beginning. 30 degrees with rain, ran 11.11 couldn’t warm up well enough. I want to hit 10.7 before I come out there. But there aren’t that many close meets.
said Thomas who will try to better by participating at the Philippine National Open nearer the end of the month for Philippine Airforce Team A in the 100 Meter Dash.
Mixed Results for Jumpers
Fil-Heritage vaulter Alyana Nicolas competing for Cal State Northridge tied her indoor PB with 3.52m, (still 28cm away from SEA Games qualifying) at the MPSF Indoor Champs in Seattle, Washington.
Meanwhile her former club mate Marissa Kwiatkowksi competing for Stanford University leapt 12.25m just 1cm away from her National Indoor and Junior National indoor record.
It was a disappointing weekend for 2014 PNG ChampionTyler Ruiz who was only able to leap 1.98m before failing three times at 2.08m in the high jump at the Rossi Relays. 2.13m is the qualifying mark for the SEA Games. Ruiz who has a personal best of 2.17m, was fourth at the 2013 SEA Games.