More than 800 track and field athletes get set for inaugural Red-Line Classic

Drumeco Archer, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations, and Red-Line Athletics’ head coach Tito Moss pose in front of trophies for this weekend’s inaugural meet.

Drumeco Archer, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations, and Red-Line Athletics’ head coach Tito Moss pose in front of trophies for this weekend’s inaugural meet.

MORE than 800 athletes are expected to participate in the inaugural Red-Line Athletics Track Classic all set to be held on Saturday under the patronage of St Augustine’s College principal Sonja Knowles.

The meet, which is expected to honour coach Dianne Woodside-Johnson, is scheduled to begin at 9am at the new Thomas A Robinson National Stadium without any fans in the stands, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

It will be sanctioned by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and will be used as a qualifier for the postponed CARIFTA Games, now slated for August 13-15 in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Tito Moss, founder/president and head coach of Red-Line Track Club, which was born out of the former Club Monica Track Club in August, 2018 with just 15 athletes, has expanded to about 65 athletes and seven coaches.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do over the past three years and I’m really excited about what is ahead for us as a club as we look ahead to the future,” Moss said.

“Also, we have assisted in getting seven kids off to college with a contract value of some $748,000 over four years at the University of Kentucky, Ohio State, Clayton State and Purdue University and we look forward to that number continue to grow as we have a few of our promising athletes in grade 11 and 12.”

Mike Armbrister serves as the assistant head coach and the other members of the team are Earl Rahming, Ashanti Colebrooke and Rolle, who all assist with the sprints and hurdles, and Mekia White, who assists with sprints and Shekeitha Henfield, who is a consultant and athletic trainer.

With the club based out of St Augustine’s College, Moss said they thought it was only fitting to honour Knowles for her years of contribution to sports by naming her the patron for their first ever meet.

Additionally, Moss said Red-Line Athletics will take the opportunity to show their appreciation to Woodside-Johnson, who provided him with the first opportunity to serve as a coach with Club Monica.

“We are following some rigid guidelines put in place by the Competent Authority,” Moss said. “All of the kids will have to do a health survey prior to entering the stadium.

“Additionally, in addition to being sanitised and temperature checked, we will have an army of volunteers who will make sure that kids remain socially distanced.”

To ensure that they stay in compliance with the protocols, Moss said that all of the instruments used will be sanitised and as much as they can, they will avoid having events with a full flight of lanes filled.

Moss also displayed the trophies that will be presented to the divisional winners from the under-7 to under-20 categories, along with the medals that will be awarded to the first three finishers in each event.

“We wanted to do something a little different to encourage the clubs who register for these meets and, a lot of times, beyond the medals, the kids have nothing to show for their participation.”

And while they are grateful to the generous support from the BAAA in taking care of the usage charges, Moss also commended companies like Fidelity Bank and Trust and FRM Construction as platinum sponsors, Lady Darling Steel, a gold sponsor and Pedi Lite, Nassau Agencies, their silver sponsors.

“I anticipate it to be a very competitive meet. We anticipated initially to have entries somewhere between 500-700, based on the meets that were held previously,” Moss stated.

“We have exceeded 800 and we’re pushing towards 850 and so there is obviously a lot of excitement, a lot of buzz generated about our meet. We anticipate a very competitive meet and we look forward to making CARIFTA qualifiers and great results on the weekend.”

BAAA president Drumeco Archer said track and field is definitely in good hands with clubs like Red-Line Athletics, who emerged as a fledgling club with just 15 athletes three years ago to 65 in three years.

“It’s a testimony of where track and field is going and where it’s expected to go over the next four to 10 years,” he said.

“I say it’s significant because there’s very few members of our track and field community who take the lead and say I will mount a meet of my own. It is so refreshing to see clubs like Red-Line Athletics and DTSP Wolfpack, who have decided to do what people have done in previous years.”

As an alumni of SAC, Archer said he’s also appreciative of the contribution made by Knowles as principal for 30 years from 1991 to 2021. “It is pleasing to me that Mrs Sonja Knowles has been remembered for the work that she has done in sports and in the development of young men and women, who are so proud to be Bahamians, more importantly,” he said.

“But I could always remember Mrs Knowles walking the plank, ensuring that the excellence of the school and the excellence of its programme prevails. I don’t think that anyone can challenge the accomplishments of Mrs Knowles.”

The BAAA, according to Archer, congratulates the clubs as they prevailed in the COVID-19 environment in a non-spectators competition.

He noted the economic stimulus that the BAAA has made in taking care of the usage charges to allow clubs to host track meets without minimum expenses to themselves. And with CARIFTA being pushed back to August, Archer said they are hard pressed to find meets to allow their athletes to stay fit and this meet by Red-Line Athletics fits right into the mainstream of what they are trying to achieve.

With no fans in the stands, Moss said they intend for the meet to go live steam for those persons who can’t be present physically in the stadium.


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