Aguilar, Bernardino and Mendoza UAAP’s top athletesBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—For La Salle swimmer Johansen Benedict Aguilar, excelling both in school and sports is not difficult at all.
“It’s more of discipline and time management,” said Aguilar, who bagged the UAAP Season 74 Athlete of the Year award.
Aguilar shared the league’s highest individual honor with Adamson softball player Rizza Bernardino (women’s division) and University of Santo Tomas’ Joaquin Mendoza (juniors) during the league’s closing ceremony over the weekend at the PICC Forum in Pasay City.
The 19-year-old Aguilar also led seven other recipients of the Athlete Scholars award, the recognition the league reserves for well-rounded student-athletes.
“I want to keep my grades high and excel in sports at the same time,” said Aguilar, a consistent Dean’s Lister.
Aguilar shattered the Philippine record in the men’s 50-meter backstroke (27.52 seconds) and also broke the league records in the 100m and 200m backstroke in the varsity swimming competition last September.
The three records highlighted Aguilar’s seven gold-medal haul in the Green Tankers’ title romp.
By November, Aguilar reset the national 50m backstroke record anew with a time of 27.29 seconds in the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia.
Bernardino similary starred in the international front as a member of the Blu Girls in the World Cup of Softball and the Garuda Cup.
Aside from her pivotal role in the Lady Falcons’ second straight 10-game season sweep, Bernardino virtually captured all individual awards in her sport by winning the MVP, Best Hitter, Best Slugger, Best Pitcher and Most RBI plums.
Mendoza, meanwhile, emerged as the top high school athlete after capturing this season’s MVP just a year after winning the Rookie of the Year in junior taekwondo.
University of Santo Tomas received the general championship after capturing its 14th straight and 39th overall crown in the seniors division and sixth straight title in the juniors side while La Salle’s Dance Company (88.9 points) won for the second straight year in the streetdance competition.