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Coach 'Singing The Praises Of Jumpers Culmer And Palacious

By BRENT STUBBS Senior Sports Reporter bstubbs@tribunemedia.net A FEW years ago, assistant coach Andre Scott was beaming with excitement over the performance of national long jump record holder Bianca Stuart at Southern Illinois. Today, Scott is still in awe of Stuart's accomplishment as a graduate of SIU's Saluki women's track and field team. But now he is singing the praises of two more jumpers - Kenya Culmer and Douglas Palacious. Over the weekend at the 2012 Saluki Invitational in Carbondale, Illinois, Culmer highlighted the meet with a personal best of 5-feet, 10-inches to shatter the school's indoor record of 5-9 3/4 set by Felicia Hill in 1999. Culmer, in her senior year, also competed in the triple jump where she was second with a leap of 11.37m or 37-3 3/4 behind team-mate Malaikah Love, who won with 12.91m or 42-4 1/4. Palacious, on the other hand, pulled off a victory in the men's triple jump with a distance of 15.19m or 49-10 but had to settle for second in the long jump with a leap of 7.27m or 23-10 1/4. The event was won by Micah McCulloch of Southern University at 7.34m or 24-1. Scott, who was in town with Stuart for the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' National Open Track and Field Championships that served as the Olympic trials in 2008, said both Culmer and Palacious are performing very well. "She's actually performing where she should be," Scott stated. "I triple jumped her in December and she hurt her leg. She was ready to jump that high then, but I'm glad that she has jumped it now. "Her previous indoor personal best was 5-7, so she's probably going to jump around 5-11 1/2 or even 6-0 this year. She's been having some good attempts in practice at 5-11. So she should be very consistent this year." As for Palacious, Scott noted that he is doing fine. "He has a slight injury that is slowing him down. But we're working on it and he should jump even higher. My goal is for him to start jumping out of the pit." Both athletes are expected to be back in action this weekend when they compete in the Iowa State Classic. Culmer, a 19-year-old business management major, said her goal this year is just simply to remain consistent and break as many records as she can. "I felt wonderful with my performance. I put in the hard work and listened to what my coaches told me and I applied it," she stated. "I just went for it that day. I'm very pleased, very satisfied with my performance. "I'm grateful too because I could have been at a different place, but this is where I'm at, so I'm very happy." Although this is an Olympic year, Culmer said her immediate goal is to qualify for the NCAA National Championships. Anything else, including qualifying for the Olympics in London, England, would be a plus. "I have a lot to work on, but I can't point them out right now," she said. "I'm not perfect." But as she prepares for the remainder of the season, Culmer said if she can "stay consistent," she will be quite pleased with her performance. Palacious was unavailable for comments. Elsewhere this weekend at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, a few other Bahamian athletes were in action. Grand Bahamian Jeffery Gibson, representing Oral Roberts University, finished second in the men's 400 in 47.14, followed by newly web Andretti Bain in 47.27 for fourth place. Ricco Hall of Nebraska won in 46.93. In the preliminary rounds, Gibson, a junior, produced the fastest qualifying time of 47.23 and Bain, a graduate of ORU, was second in 47.93 after they both won their respective heats. And Michelle Cumberbatch, competing for Lincoln University of Missouri, got fifth in the women's 400 in 56.69. The fastest time was posted by Endurance Abinuwa from UTEP in 54.84. In the preliminaries, Cumberbatch clocked 56.88. Cumberbatch, now in her junior year, also contested the 200 where she was 14th overall after a second place finish in her heat in 25.27. However, the time wasn't fast enough to get her into the final.

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