SWIMMERS Justine Ann Abastillas and Courtney Melissa Gray created huge ripples in the pool even as Laguna struck in karatedo and wrestling on the penultimate day of competitions in the Southern Luzon leg of the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission Batang Pinoy Games in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.
Abastillas, a seventh grader from St. Philomena School in Lucena City, won the girls' 12-under 50-meter backstroke and 50m freestyle Saturday, while the 15-year-old Gray of Puerto Princesa City also had five gold medals capped by a victory in the girls’ 13-15 800m free.
Abastillas won 400m free, 100m free, and 200m free earlier while Gray was impressive in the 200m back, 400m individual medley, 200m free and 100m back.
Gray, a high school sophomore at Trace College in Laguna, clocked 10:20.06 in the 800m free to defeat Antipolo City's Gwen Bryne Prejula (10:41.97), and Elaine Joy Manalang of Laguna (11:03.62).
Abastillas timed 31.43 seconds in the 50m free for her fifth victory, beating Cindy Fernandez of Puerto Princesa City (32.14), and Vivien Vance Herrera of Calapan City (32.28).
Laguna asserted its supremacy in swimming with 26 gold medals after dominating athletics (31 golds) the other day. Overall, the defending national champion collected 59 gold, 46 silver, and 39 bronze medals.
The province snatched seven gold medals in karatedo, with Kimberly Karunungan winning three gold medals and Daniel Angelo Caunin grabbing two victories on the mat. Laguna also had three golds in wrestling, with John Lester Rueda leading the way in the boys' 35kg greco roman.
Karunungan ruled the girls' advanced kata (-50kg), kumite (-47kg), and led Laguna to victory in the team kata with Ilyanna Marcelo and Perlyn Viloria a day before the closing of the games designed to discover potential national athletes 15 years-old-and below.
Caunin won the boys' kata (-53kg) and kumite (-49kg), while Daniel James Deblois and Viloria added two more victories in the boys' kumite (-35kg) and girls' kumite (-43kg), respectively.
Host Oriental Mindoro snatched the boys' singles and doubles in tennis with Jaysar Manlises capturing the individual gold before joining forces with Hilario Evardo Jr. in doubles. Manlises pocketed his third gold after teaming up with Jhon Lloyd Sapurna in the team event.
Calapan City and Oriental Mindoro also dominated full-contact arnis. Oriental Mindoro's Justine James Magnaye bested Calapan's Jerico Casao in the bantamweight finals, while flyweight George Kenneth Sitia (Calapan), light weight Janssen Paul Delgado (Calapan), and welter John Mark Claveria ruled their respective divisions.
Flyweight Kate Angel Pilapil, featherweight Angelica Ricablanca, and lightweight Marjorie Incha also made the host city proud in the girls' full-contact arnis.
In table tennis, individual bronze medalists Sandro Paul Cortez and Josephine Talay seized the gold in mixed doubles after defeating the Cavite duo of Mark Emmanuelle Apilan and Ann Marie Magcale.
Finweight Jeffrey Caramat (Taytay, Rizal), flyweight Julie Andro Apilado (Oriental Mindoro), feather Lawrence Sam Samar (Antipolo City), finweight Christine Mapula (Antipolo City), welter Danielle Noreen Sacbibit (Cavite City), lightweight Julie Ann Macatangay (Calapan), and bantam Charmine Bacnaon (Antipolo) bagged gold medals in taekwondo.
Dasmarinas City, which collected 20 gold medals in athletics and won a few in karatedo and swimming, is running second overall in the medal tally with 24 gold, 27 silver, and 15 bronze medals followed by Calapan's 18-17-17 haul.
San Pedro, Laguna produced a quadruple gold medalist from the pool in Skyler Claveria, who capped a sensational performance with victories in the boys' 13-15 200m IM and 100m breast stroke. The 14-year-old also won the 50m breast and 200m breast.
The bulk of Laguna's 26 gold medals in swimming came from Carla Mae David (four), Nicole Mean Pamintuan (three), Mark Anthony Bation (three), Gabriel Velasco (three), Joshua Casino (three), Aura Aquino (two), John Henry Gurango (two) and Ingrid Renee Dizon (two).