By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
HURDLER Jeffery Gibson and quarter-miler Shaunae Miller produced national records and ran under the A qualifying times for the IAAF World Championships with two of the four All-American performances to lead the seven-man Bahamian contingent at the NCAA Championships this weekend.
Gibson, the fastest qualifier coming out of the Regional Championships two weeks ago when he became the second Bahamian to crack the 50-second barrier, was fifth in the final of the men’s 400 metre hurdles in 49.39 seconds at the Hayward Field, better known as Track Town USA in Eugene, Oregon.
Completing his final year of eligibility, the Oral Roberts University’s senior shattered his personal best of 49.80 seconds in the event and broke a 30- year-old Bahamian national record of 49.46 by Greg Rolle in 1983 in the process.
The Grand Bahama native also dipped under the “A” Standard of 49.40 as he booked his ticket to the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia in August. He still has to compete in front of his home crowd in the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ National Open Track and Field Championships at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex June 21-22 to confirm his spot.
“What a performance,” said Oral Roberts’ head coach Joe Dial. “We couldn’t be happier with the way Jeffery competed today. He just became a national hero back home.”
Reggie Wyatt, a senior at the University of South Carolina, won the title in 48.58. Gibson got third in the last of three heats in the preliminaries in 50.40 for seventh. Wyatt also won Gibson’s heat in 49.23.
Shaunae Miller’s rare quest as a freshman to add the outdoor title to her indoor triumph for the University of Georgia was denied when she was beaten by defending champion Ashley Spencer from Illinois in the women’s 400 metre final.
Miller, however, settled for a couple of record breaking performances when she ran 50.70 seconds to trail Spencer, who closed out her collegiate career by running 50.28 for the top honour. Miller topped her own Bulldogs’ school record of 51.57 seconds, which was set during the semifinal round and she smashed her Bahamian junior national record.
“It was a pretty good race. We had a few areas where we didn’t do what we wanted to do. But that’s a part of this sport,” said Bahamian George Cleare, the assistant coach at UG. “She got the national junior record, but it’s hard when you don’t get the big day. At the end of the day, somebody ran incredibly faster and beat her.
“It’s just a matter of learning from it and keeping moving forward and moving on. We still have the rest of the year so we have to continue doing what we have been doing. We will give her a couple of days rest and we will continue to get ready for the trials and once she’s finished then we will decide how she will run this summer at the Worlds.”
In the preliminaries, Miller stopped the clock at 51.57 to take heat one in the same identical time as Regina George, a senior at Arkansas in heat three. Spencer won heat two in the third fastest time of 51.61.
Miller, the 2010 World Junior champion and 2013 CARIFTA Austin Sealy Award winner as the double 200 and 400 champion, earned a qualifying berth at the Worlds in Russia, surpassing the A standard of 51.55 to follow up her appearance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
Not to be left out of the spotlight at the meet was Raymond Higgs, a junior at the University of Arkansas. The 2012 Olympian finished second in the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.03 metres or 26-feet, 4 21/4-inches on his fifth attempt.
His series of jumps included a foul, 7.87m, 7.90m, 7.87m and 7.99m.
Higgs, whose performance was just shy of the B qualifying standard for the World Championship of 8:10m, won his opening flight, but Louisiana State University’s senior Damar Forbes popped 8.35m (27-4 3/4) on his second attempt to secure the title.
Cameron Parker picked up a fifth place finish for Texas Christian University in the men’s triple jump with a leap of 15.95 metres or 52-feet, 4-inches. Parker was in his senior year. He was third in his flight with leaps of 15.66m, 15.52, foul, 15.73m and foul.
Winning the title was Omar Craddock, a senior at Florida, with 16.92m (55-6 1/4) on his final jump.
Parker needed to jump at least 16.85m, which would have been a national title, in order to clinch the B standard for the Worlds. The A standard is 17.20m.
University of Arkansas’ sophomore Tamara Myers came close to an All-American honour when she popped a leap of 13.28m (43-7) for ninth place in the women’s triple jump final. Her best feat came on her second attempt. The rest of her jumps were 12.90m, 13.13m, 13.13m, 12.68m and a foul.
She was beaten out for the eight spot by Alitta Boyd, a senior at the University of South Carolina with 13.32m (43-8 1/2) on her third attempt. Shanieka Thomas, a junior at San Diego State, won the title with 14.14m (46-4 3/4) on her fourth attempt.
Myers was chasing the B standard of 14.20m for the Worlds. The A standard is 14.40m.
In what was the end of his collegiate career, Clemson State’s senior sprinter Warren Fraser missed advancing to the final of the men’s 100m when he ran 10.34 for seventh in the first of three heats to finish tied with another competitor for 21st place overall. He didn’t advance to the final.
Fraser, another member of the Bahamas Olympic team in 2012, needed to run 10.15 to join national record holder Derrick Atkins, who has already qualified for the Worlds. Fraser, however, could be a part of the men’s 4 x 100 relay team, if they can get one of the top 16 times in for the world before the July deadline.
At the NCAA’s, Fraser ran on the second leg of Clemson’s 4 x 100 relay team that placed fifth in heat three for 10th overall in 39.46 as they also missed making it to the final.
Sprinter Tynia Gaither, another freshman at the University of Georgia, contested the women’s 200m where she was fifth in the first of three heats in 23.23 for 10th place overall as she fell short of obtaining one of the top eight spots for the final.
Gaither is expected to be a member of the women’s 4 x 100 relay team that has already qualified for the Worlds, depending on her performance at the BAAA Nationals.
“She was pretty good. She ran a good race. She will be getting ready for the trials, contesting the 100 and 200 and see if she can get on the team and be ble to assist the Bahamas on the relay team later this summer,” Cleare said of the women’s 4 x 100 relay team that has already qualified for Moscow.
QUARTER-miler Ramon Miller stepped down to run in the men’s 200 metres on Saturday at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo.
Miller, running the anchor leg on the men’s gold medal 4 x 400 relay team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, clocked 20.63 seconds for third place. Winning the race was Churandy Martina from the Netherlands in 20.23. Great Britain’s James Ellington was third in 20.42. Miller was the only Bahamian competing in the meet.
QUARTER-miler Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown picked up another seventh place finish at his second international meet since hosting his inaugural Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational.
Fresh off his seventh place finish at the Prefrontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on June 1 in 45.85 seconds, Brown went to Rome where he ran 45.91 for seventh place. The race was won by American LaShawn Merritt in 44.96. Merritt won in a season’s best in 44.32 ahead of Grenada’s Olympic and world champion Kirani James, who ran 44.39.
Brown was the only Bahamian to compete in Rome, the fifth leg of the Golden League.