After losing to the A.F. Adderley Tigers last year, the C.H. Reeves Raptors came back this year and got back to the top in the junior division of government schools track and field.
They prevailed as champions at the 26th Government Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA) Junior High Track and Field Championships yesterday, pulling away from the Tigers at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At the end of the day, the Raptors scored 508 points and the Tigers ended with 440.50 points. Third place went to the H.O. Nash Lions with 309 points. Heading into yesterday’s events, the Raptors held an 18.5 point lead over the Tigers and gradually pulled away.
Rashad McKenzie, head coach of the Raptors, said: “I am more than excited. Last year left a bad taste in our mouths. We were more than anxious and we put in more than enough work. Everything paid off and the proof is in the pudding. We are back to number one.”
He gave God all the glory for the victory.
An overjoyed Greta Brown, principal of C.H. Reeves Junior High School, said the victory is one year overdue.
“It is sweet to have it back in ‘Raptor Country,’” she said. “We had it for almost 20 years consecutively and we didn’t mind lending it to them for 12 months but it is back home now.”
She assured they will repeat as champions next year.
The Raptors punctuated the day in grand style, sweeping the under-15 boys and girls 4×400 meters (m) relays. The boys had the final race of the day and it included some drama as the Raptors had to chase down their counterparts. On the third leg, the Raptors’ Roberto Duverson pursued the S.C. McPherson Sharks’ Tashon McKenzie. Coming around the final turn, Duverson gained ground on McKenzie before he gave the baton to anchor Jay-Onn Joseph. It was quite a duel between Joseph and Sharks’ anchor Reano Todd.
Todd had a good run in the first 300 meters but Joseph kept getting closer. With 60 meters to go in the race, Joseph was an arm’s length away, showing sheer heart and determination. With less that 20 meters remaining, Joseph pointed his finger to the sky as he passed Todd and crossed the finish line first.
Joseph said: “I know I could have caught him. I just did not give up. I came through and passed him.”
The Raptors recorded a time of 4:03.44. Running their first and second legs were Perez Bullard and Brenicko Nixon. The Sharks settled for silver in a time of 4:04.22. The bronze medal was won by the Lions as they clocked 4:10.22.
“Based on our placement – how we positioned those kids from the first to the fourth leg, we knew we had a strong contingency in terms of all four of the runners. On the third leg, I know that he would have a good leg and keep us close close for Jay-Onn. He has heart and he did what he was supposed to do. He told me, ‘Coach, we will bring this one home’. Just as he said, he did,” coach McKenzie said.
The girls’ team had a great run as they coasted to victory in a time of 4:26.78. Aliyah Brown ran their last leg to bring it home for the Raptors. The Sharks took the silver medal after finishing the race in 4:37.70. Joining the Raptors and Sharks on the podium were the Tigers with a time of 4:52.56.
Earlier in the day, Brown won the gold medal in the under-15 girls 200m, posting a time of 27.13 seconds. Her teammate Marquell Newbold was a close second in 27.74 seconds. The Sharks’ Heaven Strachan was third with a time of 28.12 seconds.
Newbold got a gold medal of her own in the under-15 girls 75m hurdles. She won a close race with the Sharks’ Kayzell Stubbs, finishing in 13.73 seconds. Stubbs recorded a time of 13.78 seconds. T.A. Thompson Scorpions’ Desha Pierre was the bronze medallist, posting a time of 14.47 seconds.
It was a great performance by the L.W. Young Golden Eagles in the under-13 girls 800m as A’Karee Roberts pulled away from her competitors to win in a time of 2:42.90. Her closest competitor was the Raptors’ Illeisha Brown who finished the race in 2:50.01. The bronze medallist was the Lions’ Kristina Butler.
In the field, the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves’ Elijah Roker leapt his way to a gold medal in the under-15 boys triple jump with a jump of 11.37m (37’ 3-3/4”). The D.W. Davis Royals’ Ricardo Pierrelus won the silver medal with a jump of 10.10m (33’ 1-3/4”). The Tigers’ Kolbe Willy was third with a leap of 9.96m (32’ 8”).
The Raptors worked hard for the victory and were ecstatic afterwards.
“We pretty much eat, sleep and breathe track and field. Usually, we start late but this year we worked as soon as we came to school in September. All through the breaks we were working, even last week through the mid-term the kids showed up. They were consistently working,” McKenzie said.
As for next year, McKenzie said: “We can’t let the ball drop now. We have to keep the ball rolling. The school is always known for track and field and now we are pretty much known for every sport. We just have to keep this as our number one sport and follow up with everything else.”
Finishing fourth were the Sharks with 259 points. The Royals finished fifth with 206.50 points. Finishing with 183 points for sixth place were the Golden Eagles. The Scorpions finished with 119 points for seventh. The eighth and final spot went to the Timberwolves with 99 points.
The seniors are in action today, completing nine events – five track events and four field events. The C.R. Walker Knights still lead the way with 315 points after winning four of the five track events yesterday. Following behind them are the C.I. Gibson Rattlers with 288.50 points after winning three of the four field events yesterday. Sitting in third are the C.V. Bethel Stingrays with 197.50 points.
The senior championships concludes today at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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