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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

UAGM dethrones UIPR to capture LAI Global Cup

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón swimmers celebrate winning their seventh-straight Interuniversity Athletic League (LAI) team title. USC repeated as the LAI Commissioner’s Cup champion this year. (Kendall Torres/LAI)

USC repeats in Commissioner’s Cup

By Zacha Acosta / Cybernews

The Taínos and Taínas of Ana G. Méndez University (UAGM by its Spanish initials) have won the most prestigious award in university sports: the Global Cup.

The achievement comes amid the celebration of the 75th anniversary of UAGM’s founding and the 95th anniversary of the Interuniversity Athletic League (LAI) Sports Festival, better known as Las Justas.

The LAI Tournament Office announced earlier this week the results of the award that adds up all the points earned in sports programming for the 2023-2024 academic year. UAGM was revealed as the winner, for the first time since the unification of its campuses. Capturing the Global Cup was a collective effort, with the university system’s men’s and women’s divisions combining for 2,845 points. In addition, by gender, UAGM won the women’s division with 1,402.5 points, and on the men’s side finished as the runner-up with 1,442.5 points.

“It gives me great satisfaction to know the results of the award we set out to win,” UAGM Athletic Director Edgar Díaz Díaz said. “I feel proud, not only for having won the award, but for the work done by our coaches, administrative staff, and most importantly and our reason for being, the athletes,”

LAI sports programming is divided into two semesters and includes 17 sports: taekwondo, weightlifting, short course (25-meter pool) swimming, cross country, table tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, dance, long pool swimming, Olympic wrestling, volleyball, soccer, tennis, relay championships, women’s softball, judo and Las Justas (track & field). This year, dance became an official sport and cheerleading became an exhibition sport.

“The key this year was participating in everything,” said Díaz, who is in his fourth year as athletic director at UAGM. “Dance was the sport that averaged the points to win. My admiration and respect for those students who put together their choreography in March and although we did not win, neither did we come in last; they gave us the points to win.”

Taking second place in the Global Cup was defending champion Inter-American University of Puerto Rico (UIPR), with 2,840 points in both divisions as a result of the championship in the men’s division with 1,510 points and third place in the women’s division with 1,330 points. UIPR repeated as Las Justas champion last weekend.

Díaz said finishing as runners-up at Las Justas gives him cause to look for depth in his teams.

“Actually I obtained 12 gold medals against seven in the men’s branch, 11 golds against seven in the women’s branch, compared with Inter,” he said. “We have to continue working on achieving depth with that second athlete who can capture more points and the possibilities will be real for next year.”

Third place in the Global Cup went to the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Mayagüez Campus with 2,815 points, a result of 1,425 points in the men’s division, good for third place, and 1,390 points on the women’s side for second place.

One wish that Díaz wants to fulfill is to receive all the participating universities that won awards throughout the year at the annual LAI Value Awards, which is scheduled for late May and early June (specific date to be announced soon).

“I would like to celebrate the Global Cup achievement at our university,” he said. “It is the first global championship we have had since our unification. We will make the formal request to the LAI and the presidency of the UAGM so that it can happen. But … our athletes will have their gala at the end of May to celebrate their stories and their institutional achievements.”

USC repeats in Commissioner Cup

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart University), meanwhile repeated as the LAI Commissioner Cup champion. The award is given to institutions with 6,000 or fewer enrolled student-athletes.

The Dolphins’ combined score (men’s and women’s divisions) was 1,290 points.

“I’m super proud. We have worked hard in these years,” USC Athletic Director Rafael Colón said. “We have universities like [UPR] Bayamón, [UPR] Arecibo and [UPR] Humacao that are good competitors. Thank God, we were able to repeat!”

UPR Bayamón was the runner-up with 1,175 points, while UPR Arecibo took third place with 1,085 points.

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