OROQUIETA, Misamis Occidental –  Aaron Gumban announced his presence in the Batang Pinoy Games Mindanao qualifiers with a bang on Wednesday, clinching the meet’s first gold medal in ruling the boys 5,000-meter run at Misamis Occidental Provincial Athletics Complex here.


Racing under an early-morning cloudy sky, the slightly-built Gumban took the lead after the third lap and never looked back to win handily in a time of 17 minutes and 14.49 seconds in the sportsfest organized by the Philippines Sports Commission.


The Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte pride finished 10 seconds ahead of South Cotabato’s Mark Rennel Hubag (17.59), who took the silver, while Davao del Norte’s Nikos Mampaundag (18.17) settled for the bronze in the competition supported by Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia Ramiro.


“Masayang-masaya po ako sapagkat di ko po inaasahan na mananalo ako,” said Gumban, 13, a Grade 7 student at the Sto. Tomas National High School (STNHS), of his triumphant debut in the Batang Pinoy Mindanao regionals also backed by Oroquieta Mayor Jason Almonte.


A bronze medalist in the same event in last month’s Davao Regional Athletic Association trackfest, Gumban was gunning for his second gold in the boys 1,500-meter run scheduled later in the afternoon. 


His coach, Beverly Villarino, a Social Studies teacher STNHS who doubles as its athletic coach, said Gumban showed a knack for long distance races “because he has a lot of stamina,” citing the boy’s win in the 3-kilometer run of the Milo Marathon Davao qualifiers last year.


“Hopefully, Gumban’s win will have a domino effect on the rest of our team,” added Villarino, who also coached former 2013 Palarong Pambansa discus throw gold medalist Carlo Caong.


His words were prophetic for just a few minutes after Gumban’s win, schoolmate Adriane Hanz Taporco gave the small banana-producing town of just over 100,000 people its second gold in bagging the boys shot put on his second heave with a throw of 11.51 meters.


Khryss Rae Baraman of General Santos City (10.86) and Renante Catayas of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte (10.71) copped the silver and bronze, respectively, in the age group sports showcase being held in this province for the first time.


“Napakasaya ko po kasi first time lang ako nakasali dito,” said the stocky Taporco, 15, a Grade 11 student at STNHS, of his accomplishment.


“At least, our town will now have two athletes who have qualified for the Batang Pinoy national finals in Baguio City in September,” said a delighted Villarino, who bared that his wards would get cash incentives from the Sto. Tomas municipal government.


Sharing the day’s spotlight was fellow Batang Pinoy newcomer Jivie Magnetico, who collected the boys long jump gold with his second leap of 6.38 meters.  Peterson Laparan of Plaridel, Misamis Occidental (6.26) got the silver and General Santos’ Fel Brian Britanico bronze (6.19).


Over at the MOPAC pool, Zambonga City made waves in securing two out of the first four gold medals at stake at the start of the swimming competitions.


Danielle Filoteo topped the girls 12-and-under 200-meter individual medley race (3:02.59) while teammate Austin John Hampac was tops in the boys 13-15 200-meter contest (2:27.10).


Dipolog’s Leano Vince Dalman ruled the boys 12-under 200-meter IM (2:37.84) while Juliana Marien Villanueva of Davao City took the mint in the girls 13-15 200-meter IM to round out the day’s early winners.