The 2013 edition of the Saint Lucia National Individual Track & Field Championships featured over 200 athletes, including three overseas-based Saint Lucian competitors and guests from the neighbouring territories of Martinique, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
In several events, the quality of competition was far higher than it has been in recent years, and the best was brought out of some home-based athletes.
Sandisha Antoine was one of the stars of the weekend, with fine displays in exhibition women’s long jump and triple jump. The soon-to-be 22-year-old Martinique-based horizontal jumper produced a career-best 6.31m in the long jump and 13.01m in the triple jump. Michelle Baptiste’s 1996 mark of 6.47m may finally be under serious threat. Antoine’s own mark of 13.01m from last year appears to be in some jeopardy as well!
The contingent from Martinique mainly comprised middle distance runners and they pushed multiple CARIFTA and Central American & Caribbean Championships junior medalist Marbeq Edgar to one of his best performances on home soil.
Some of his opponents were older and more experienced, but the 18-year-old from Choiseul was faster. He completed the 800m in 1:53.66, a split-second ahead of David Derose (1:53.91) from French club, Peleen. In a less competitive 1500m, Marbeq completed the double with a 4:08.07 victory.
The men’s sprints produced contrasting wins. On Saturday in the 200m, 19-year-old Julius Morris of Montserrat lowered his time incrementally through each round, producing a 20.77 in the final (wind 2.8 metres per second) to hold off Joshua Hamilton (21.10) of St Vincent & the Grenadines, and 18-year-old CARIFTA finalist Jovan Stephen (21.55) of Nightriders.
In the 100m on Sunday, Corneil Lionel, fresh off his freshman campaign at Iowa Western Community College, ran 10.27 seconds with a 4.2 m/s tailwind to hold off Lincoln University alum Mandela Clifford by a hundredth of a second. The 22-year-old Lionel represents Survivors, whilst the 27-year-old Clifford is a member of Morne Stars. Morris (10.49) took third in one of the most closely-watched events of the meet.
Doing The Double
Antoine and Edgar aside, there were notable doubles. Verlyn Taylor of Abilene ran 26.03 (wind 3.6 m/s) to easily outstrip Kerlyn Constable (27.16) of Nightriders and Beverly-Ann Hippolyte (27.20) of Rockets in the women’s 200m.
The 18-year-old Taylor would return on the second day to claim victory in the women’s 100m dash; her time of 12.95 seconds (wind 1.1 m/s) comfortably ahead of the Survivors duo of 15-year-old Rochelle Etienne (13.15) and 20-year-old Carlyn Williams (13.20).
Distance races opened both days of the meet. Michael Biscette took both races. The 27-year-old Road Busters athlete stopped the clock at 16:49.22 in the 5000m run, beating Winsbert Sylvester of Nightriders (17:07.78) and Mitch Alexander of Road Busters (17:07.89) as the teenagers finished almost in a dead heat.
On Sunday, Biscette captured the 10,000m run with a time of 35:14.04, his teammate Neville Dupre (35:43.11) coming in second, with Alvin Maglorie of Nightriders well distant with 44:40.47 for third.
Visiting Athletes Shine
Rosalie Pringle was another athlete doing the double (Jovon Agard also accomplished that feat in the age group category). The 20-year-old from St Kitts-Nevis stormed to the top of the medal rostrum with a career-record 2:12.85 in the 800m run, more than 100m ahead of second-placed teenager Kamillah Monroque (2:29.20) of Rockets. Pringle similarly stamped her authority on the 400m, running a personal-best 55.59 to beat Kerlan Constable (1:04.25) of Nightriders.
Kasique Oliver of St Vincent & the Grenadines ran 48.40 seconds to just hold off Survivors teenager Akhenaton Pierre (48.48) and Jahkiba Joseph (personal-best 48.63) of St Kitts-Nevis for the 400m men’s title. It was a race that sorely missed CARIFTA finalist Talberc Poleon, whose Pacesetters club was absent from the weekend proceedings.
Still Work To Be Done
The men’s horizontal jumps gave cause for measured optimism. Nicarge Arnold of Morne Stars, a recent Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States medalist, copped gold in the long jump, repeating his 7.31m personal-best mark.
The 19-year-old Arnold beat Miguel Louis of French club CS Belimois (7.08m) and Kernelson Bacchus (7.06m) of Abilene, with Darren Defreitas of Morne Stars (6.88m) back in fourth place.
Defreitas would hold on for bronze in triple jump, however. In a Morne Stars sweep, the 18-year-old CARIFTA representative was beaten by a centimetre as Desran Desir hopped, stepped and jumped his way to 13.42m for silver. Both young men being backed by heavy wind. Kevin Norville grabbed the gold, his best effort of 13.90m coming on his final trial, though he led from the fourth round.
Young veteran Rick Valcin was the winner in men’s pole vault. The one time CARIFTA silver medalist cleared 4.70m on his second attempt, representing Nightriders. Former CARIFTA champion Shem Edward, also of Nightriders, could only get over 4.50m on the day, whilst 18-year-old Mikey Ferdinand of Abilene had a clean sheet up to 3.90m.
In the high jump, 2012 Olympian Darvin Edwards is having a tough season. Having conceded his OECS title two weeks ago in St Kitts-Nevis, he once again cleared 2.15m in Vieux Fort. It was good enough for a win on this occasion, but Darvin accomplished that height as a junior eight years ago, and it’s a far cry from his 2.31m OECS record. A decade younger than Darvin, but 20cm back, Ace Louis cleared 1.95m to take silver for Ciceron Secondary.
It was a similar tale of dominance but not excellence in the javelin throw, where 25-year-old Albert Reynolds threw 67.02m to win. Six years ago the Elite athlete threw 69.13m to set the national junior record, and he recently threw over 70m to win the OECS title in Basseterre. But with Choiseul’s Rick Henry (44.44m) and Gros Islet Secondary’s 15-year-old Danny Francois (43.45m) well back, Albert was hardly pressed.
Rick Henry also took bronze in theshot put and discus throw. Johnathan Girard of Morne Stars won the former event with a best effort of 12.94m, whilst Chad Eugene (10.22m) took silver for Nightriders, and Henry threw 9.92m for third place. In the discus throw, Danny Adley of Morne Stars defended his national title with a throw of 36.37m, besting Eugene (31.02m) and Henry (29.53m) on this occasion. Both Girard and Adley are 25.
Weak Women’s Field Events
Results in women’s field events were relatively lacklustre. Valerie Deterville of Morne Stars won the javelin throw with a best effort of 32.29m on her final trial. Fellow 15-year-old Rochelle Etienne of Survivors threw 29.15m for silver.
Deterville also took bronze in the discus throw, which Gros Islet Secondary’s Tamisha Alexander won with a mere 23.85m. Etienne, meanwhile, won the shot put with just 8.14m, meaning the heptathlon women could have won both javelin and shot.
Heptathlon women would also have won the jumps. The winning distance in long jump (see below) was under 5m, and 13-year-old Neema Leon of St Joseph’s Convent cleared 1.40m to win the women’s high jump.
Sharnique Leonce successfully defended her heptathlon title with a personal-best mark of 4289, but there was no area of major improvement for the Survivors athlete. Shamalyn Albert of Choiseul was second, completing her first full heptathlon with a score of 3885, including personal-best marks in all three track events.
Age Group Excitement… And Records!
It was heartening to see the number of 14-and-under girls in the sprint hurdles, Sherlan Jules of Ciceron Secondary breaking her own age group record in the 60m event as she won in 10.43 seconds from a field of seven. In the 80m boys event, Najeem Jean of Road Busters set another record, crossing the line in 13.02 seconds.
The 80m dash saw a tremendous age group mark of 9.91 from Mecheala Hyacinth of Survivors, with just a 1.7 m/s wind. Jovon Agard of Road Busters ran 9.57 for the boys 80m, but the 2.7 m/s wind invalidated the performance for record purposes.
Agard did the double by winning the 300m in 38.28 seconds, well ahead of Morne Stars’ Denzel Florent (40.07) in second and Elite’s Randy Serville (40.53) in third.
On the distaff side, Stephanie Toussaint ran 42.04 to hold off Elite’s Bitney Benjamin, the age group record-holder in this event. Still on the track, Tonisha Hilton from Nightriders ran 3:21.11 for 1000m gold, and despite running virtually unchallenged, Eite’s Serville clocked 3:51.75 to set an age group record.
Another record was set in the girls’ shot put, Marabelle Mason of St Joseph’s Convent throwing 8.67m to win. Christian Cenac of Choiseul (9.17m) was unfortunately the only athlete in the boys’ shot put.
Tonisha Hilton of Nightriders won the girls’ long jump with 4.62m, which would have earned her a silver competing against the women, where Survivors’ Yvanna David’s 4.78m was enough for gold. In boys long jump. Jelanie St Rose’s 5.50m was good enough, as Survivors took the top two spots, Antonio Maynard’s 5.26 allowing him to hold on for second.
Thrills In Relays
Elite beat Morne Stars for the girls 4x100m relay, but their boys’ quartet was handily defeated by Road Busters. In the women’s 4×1, Survivors were anchored to a time of 49.95 by young Mecheala Hyacinth, in a team that included two 100m individual medalists.
Nightriders ran 53.92 for silver. St Vincent & the Grenadines were outright favourites for the men’s sprint relay gold, but a botched handover coming off the back straight gave Nightriders the 42.91-second win, with Blazers (43.06) hot on their heels. Nightriders won the women’s mile relay in 4:35.97 from Rockets (4:53.10).
In the final event of last weekend’s meet, Choiseul won the men’s relay in 3:23.25, beating Rockets (3:32.19) into silver position.
More importantly, 18-year-old Marvric Pamphile, 19-year-old Aaron Lionel, 16-year-old Brent Joseph and 18-year-old Marbeq on anchor eclipsed the mark of 3:29.85 set by Team Saint Lucia at the 2009 CARIFTA Games. Hopefully the first of several records that will fall with Marbeq involved.
Saint Lucia’s top athletes will now prepare for overseas engagements including World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine and Central American & Caribbean Senior Championships in Michoacan, Mexico, both next month, Central American & Caribbean Age Group Championships in Willamsted, Curacao this coming weekend, Francophone Games in Nice, France and World Championships in Athletics in Moscow, Russia.