Not since the days of Isidro del Prado Sr in the 80s, did the Men’s 800m created a lot of excitement and buzz. Qualified for the finals were 2011 SEA Games 800m/1500m silver medalist Mervin Guarte (SSC), who is also the undisputed NCAA Champion (with golds at 800m/1500m/5,000m and 3,00m steeplechase); 2012 UAAP 800m/1500m gold medalist Jordan Paul Billiones (UST), and 2011 UAAP 800m/1500m gold medalist Wenlie Maulas (UE) and 2012 NCAA 800m silver medalist Michael Villamor of Perpetual Help.
Weeks before the games, Guarte and Billiones have stirred some excitement in the middle distance community with their fast 400m runs. Guarte was sent to the Singapore for the SEA Youth Championships and registered a 50.24s 400m. Billiones stayed at home and trained under Coach Sam Goldberg and timed 49.8 during a time trial one month before the PNG.
Lane assignments were Billiones lane 3, Guarte lane 4, Villamor lane 5 and Maulas lane 6.
At the breaking point (120m), Mervin Guarte, quickly opened up a 10m lead, with Maulas storming to second place coming from 10m back, and Billiones was at 3rd who just glided from the start, and at 4th Michael Villamor.
Maulas tried to gave chase the next 100m, but seemed to suddenly settled in the pack at the 200m mark. Billiones overtook him at the top of the final bend with Villamor breathing behind their backs.
This position was maintained for the next 400m.
By the time Guarte crossed the halfway mark at 52.1s , he has built an enormous 3 seconds from the pack. Billiones crossed the 400m mark at 55s, with Maulas and Villamor.
Guarte continued to maintain his blistering pace through the 500m mark. At this point, Billiones, kicked hard and gained one and a half seconds from Guarte at the 600m mark. At the beginning of the final stretch, Billiones was just 1 second away from Guarte, but he was clearly spent. Guarte maintained the 1 second lead from Billiones until the 750m when Maulas overtook Billiones to finish second.
Maulas shifted to 5th gear at the beginning of the final straight and was the freshest among the three. If the race were extended another 50, Maulas would’ve caught Guarte. Maulas’ splits were 55 and 57, more evenly paced as compared to Guarte’s 52 and 60. Have Maulas’ stayed with Guarte during the first lap, we would’ve witnessed a tighter race and maybe saw a different winner.
But clearly, the thing that spelled the difference was experience. Guarte ran a smart race, he knows his limits at this point of the season, but he certainly knows his strength.
Overall, twas a fine race. It produced a season’s best for Guarte, and personal bests for both Billiones and Maulas. The race we would’ve wanted during February, when UAAP and NCAA players are at their peak. But, I’ll take this nevertheless.
Well done halfmilers!
1. Mervin Guarte, Laguna, 1:52.19 (SB)
2. Wenlie Maulas, PAF-Hypersports, 1:52.92 (PB)
3. Jordan Paul Billiones, PAF, Hypersports, 1:53.78 (PB)
4. Michael Davis Villamor, Laguna, 1:56.76
5. Michael Ian Constantino, Sun Cellular, 2:00.14
6. Loius Azarraga, WIT-Iloilo, 2:00.49
7. Jorry Ycong, Bayawan City, 2:01.00
8. Jomar Angus, Run for Change, 2:04.18
Below is the link for the video of the race.