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The University of Connecticut Huskies women’s track and field team wrapped up four days of competition at the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship on Sunday.
The team picked up a second-place finish at the George J Sherman Family-Sports Complex on the Storrs campus. The Huskies finished the four-day stretch with 125 team points, trailing on the meet-winner SMU (131).
One of the highlights for the Huskies was the brilliant performance of Saint Lucia’s Nyanka Joseph. Born in Mon Repos, Nyanka went to high school in New York City. Now, less than a month shy of her 22nd birthday, she is a team captain for the UConn track team. And over the weekend, the self-described ‘successaholic’ turned in a true captain’s performance.
Nyanka put together a career-best performance in the 200m dash, taking second overall with a 23.33-second time, behind only J’Nea Bellamy of UCF. The result marked the second-best time in the conference this season and moved the Husky junior into the top-30 on the 2015 National Collegiate Athletics Association qualifying list. But it also marked two other major milestones.
On the one hand, Nyanka broke Jineill Vité’s 11-year-old Saint Lucia national record for the half-lap event. Jineill, who is from Soufriere, and ran for Missouri State, had been clocked at 23.73 seconds in 2004. Jineill still holds the 100m record of 11.44 seconds.
Like Jineill, Nyanka had a 1.3 metre-per-second tailwind for her record run. Nyanka also broke the 200m indoor national record back in February of this year. Five of the island’s six national records in the 200m races (indoor, outdoor, junior, senior, men and women) have been set in 2015.
But Nyanka also became the eighth Saint Lucian track and field athlete to qualify for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. The qualifying mark for that event is 23.64 seconds, making Nyanka the first female track athlete eligible to make the team.
Regarding the national record, Nyanka had this to say: “It is pretty exciting – it’s always nice to be the greatest at something, especially in regards to your country.”
She is looking forward to possibly running for Saint Lucia this summer as well. “It would be nice,” she says, “depending on how the rest of my season goes. The possibility is exciting, and one that I continue to take into serious consideration as I approach the end of the NCAA D1 collegiate season in a month.”
Nyanka missed the podium in the 400m, but ran a personal best of 52.81 seconds. She led off the four-lap relay, and her team of Faith Dismuke, Paris Taft and Deysha Smith-Jenkins took first place in 3:32.76, setting a new school record in the process.
The squad picked up five points in the one-lap relay final when the Husky `A’ team that consisted of Smith-Jenkins, Taylor Anderson, Nyanka and Sarah Bowens nabbed fourth with a 45.01-second result.
“I really wanna thank my coach for giving me everything I need,” said Nyanka. “Even though I complain sometimes, and these next two weeks we have got work to do better and progress to nationals.”