By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
A total of seven made the qualifying standards for the CARIFTA Games and at least 12 records were broken as the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture concluded their National High School Track and Field Championships on Saturday night as the Big Red Machine took home another overall title to St Augustine’s College.
As the three-day meet closed out at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium, the Big Red Machine rolled out with a total of 935.50 points to hold off the stiff challenge from the Queen’s College Comets, who had 810.50 for second and the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons, who took third place to Grand Bahama with 615.50.
However, there was no distinction made on the separation of the senior and junior high divisions, although the scores indicated that SAC would have accumulated sufficient points to win the senior division, while Queen’s College took the junior division.
SAC’s head coach William ‘Knucklehead’ Johnson said with the final trials for the CARIFTA Games this weekend, they had to make a decision that was in the best interest of the country and not so much for the Big Red Machine while they still attempt to seal the championship deal. “The biggest thing is going into nationals, the CARIFTA trials was just five days away and we wanted to go to nationals without maximising our athletes in terms of what they can do,” Johnson said. “We had Jaide Knowles, who could win and set national records in the 100, 200 and hurdles, but we decided to limit the amount of events for all of them to preserve them because fatigue is what starts injuries.
“So we wanted to get out of nationals without injuries. We pretty much did that, but we gave up easily 200-plus points by not putting athletes in certain events and holding some back in others like Joel Johnson, who has the fastest time this year in the 200, but we only allowed him to run the 100 and the 4 x 100. We had to be conscious of those athletes who will be representing the country at CARIFTA and hope that things worked out.”
In the end, the Big Red Machine prevailed by taking seven of the divisional titles, including the under-17 and under-20 girls and under-13 and under-17 boys’w divisions. But Johnson said they were thrilled by the competition they received from the Comets and the Falcons.
The Comets won the under-13 and under-15 girls and under-15 and open boys divisions, while the Falcons captured the under-20 boys division.
Queen’s College, who had the most points in the female team scores with 538.50 ahead of SAC’s 517.50, had a highly spirited performance, according to head coach Everette Fraser. “We had some people who didn’t participate, but for those who did, I think they did a very good job,” Fraser said. “They went out there and they did their best.”
Fraser said there were a lot of things that didn’t go wright for his Comets with some athletes sick and some didn’t show up.
“For those who came out and represented their school, I was pleased with their performances,” he said. “We just have to get back to the drawing board. We have a lot of young kids who will be back in the same division. This was a taste of what to expect. We just have to get them pout and training much earlier and harder for next year.”
Tabernacle Baptist Academy, who are still celebrating their Falcons’ senior boys triumph as Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament champions, were expected to put on a show and they didn’t disappoint.
“I am in great spirits over my team’s performance in this meet,” Johnson, Falcons’ head coach said. “I feel like we were the Cinderalla team of the meet. We were the most impressive team in the meet. We might not have won on points, but I only entered qualifiers and there were schools who had two persons and not all of them were qualifiers, when you come a meet where all integrity is lost, it’s a different story.
“We bring quality. When you bring quantity in a meet that should be quality, it’s hard for you to win. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my team. They went out there and they gave it their best shot. I could;t ask for anything more from them. Hopefully we will get better for next year.”
Sprinter Jaide Knowles of St Augustine’s College was the cream of the crop in the under-17 girls division. She opened by running 11.96 seconds to surpass the Carifta qualifying standard of 12.06 and she came back and did the same in the 200m in 24.10. The standard in the half-lap race is 24.55.
Knowles’ 200m time erased St Anne’s Devine Parker record time of 24.39 that she set in 2016.
Two standards were achieved in the under-17 boys division as SAC’s Chima Johnson soared 14.55m to surpass the mark of 14.24m in the triple jump and his team-mate Tarajh Hudson threw the discus 46.24m, well over the Carifta mark of 41.50m.
Doniesha Anderson was the lone qualifier in the under-20 girls division when she cleared 1.70m in the high jump to match the standard. In the process, Anderson also erased the previous meet record of 1.63m that was held by Celine Thompson from 2015.
Three marks were surpassed in the under-20 boys division with SAC’s Oscar Smith running 13.98 in the 110m hurdles as he dipped under the qualifying time of 14.00; Adrian Curry, also of SAC, sped to victory in the 100m in 10.60 to equalize the standard and CI Gibson’s Deangelo Oliver won the Octathlon with a total of 4,165.00 points to go over the standard of 4,100.
Among the record breaking performances was Angel Willie of St Andrew’s, who inked her name in the book with her time of 14.98 in the under-20 girls 100m hurdles. The old record was 17.74 that was set by India Sweeting from Queen’s College in 2015.
Also, Lakelle Kinteh of SAC cleared 5.48m to win the under-20 girls long jump to replace the previous mark of 4.81m by Quannisha Marshall in 2015. Dachye Stubbs, also of SAC, threw the under-20 girls shot put 11.47m to erase Keianna ASlbury’s old mark of 11.07m that was set in 2015 and Latia Saunders got another mark for SAC in the under-20 girls javelin with a toss of 38.85m to shatter the record of 32.55m by Walliscia McKinney in 2015.
Five records fell in the under-20 boys division, two of which came from CI Gibson’s Deangelo Oliver in the octathlon with his total of 4,165 points. Oliver’s time of 11.82 in the 100m surpassed the previous mark of 13.20 by Shamel Green in 2016 and his heave of 11.93m replaced the old mark of 11.57m by Kevin Wallace in 2014.
Benjamin Clarke of SAC cleared 1.90m to replace the old mark of 1.85m by Quincy Poitier in 2014 in the under-20 boys high jump; Michael Williams of Tabernacle Baptist Academy threw the under-20 boys shot put 13.18m to remove the mark of 11.57m that was set by Kevin Wallace again in 2014 and Anthony Carey threw the javelin 49.32m to erase Denzil Pratt’s old mark of 43.69m in 2014