In some places, the Saint Lucia national record for women’s 400m hurdles was 1:11.85, a performance by Urana Joseph in 1993 in the United States. In others, it was 1:01.61, teenager Gehian Regis running at the 2007 PSAL City Championship in Randall’s Island, USA.
But whatever the old record is academic, as 21-year-old Kassandra ‘Kassie’ Pierre finally achieved one of her long-stated goals on Saturday.
Running for UNC Asheville at the Georgia Tech Invitational, the UNC Asheville redshirt junior had a modest finish by position, but lowered her own school record and set a new mark for the nation of her heritage.
The daughter of former sprinter Desmond Pierre and niece of Michael ‘Midget’ Pierre, ‘Kassie’ came into the season with a personal-best mark of 1:01.70 in the intermediate hurdles, just outside Gehian’s mark. But at the George C Griffin Track on Sunday, Kassie cleared the 10 flights in 1:01.56, stablishing a new national record for the Brooklyn Tech alum.
Brimming with emotion, Kassie shared her excitement: “My dad has this scrapbook of all his accomplishments,” she says. “By the time he graduated college, my parents had had my sister and I feel if he had the opportunity to, he would have tried to compete professionally for Saint Lucia.
“While I know I’m far off from where my potential is, I want to run for Saint Lucia as like a continuation of his aspirations or rather what he could have done. It’s a small island that goes by overlooked and I want to live up to my potential and become a standout for Saint Lucia just to bring a little more recognition to it, and to also just show I’m more than proud of my roots.”
Among Kassie’s immediate goals, she says she wants to take the record down to 58 seconds. She is hopeful of running at Saint Lucia’s National Championships in June, and if she gets under 59.56 in the next few weeks, she would qualify for the Pan Am Games.
But the level-headed young lady, who missed out on the 2013 outdoor season through injury, says she has not reached out to the local Athletics Association to date. A full Saint Lucian citizen, she explains that this was entirely by design.
“I’ve been focused on dropping my times so I’d have more appeal to the association,” says Kassie. So far, she’s doing well, but hoping for even better things for herself, for the Asheville Bulldogs, and for Saint Lucia.