The C.R. Walker Knights comfortably claimed their fourth straight Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) track and field title, winning the 26th edition of the meet at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, on Friday.
The Knights led the three-day meet from the break, and accumulated a total of 654.50 points to defeat the second place C.I. Gibson Rattlers who finished with 550 points. Finishing at a distant third was the C.V. Bethel Stingrays with 391.50 points. Following the Stingrays in fourth were the R.M. Bailey Pacers with 339.50 points. The Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins finished fifth with 338.50 points. The bottom three were the C.C. Sweeting Cobras with 186 points, the Government High School Magic with 156.50 points and the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves with 88.50 points.
Drenched in water after his athletes doused him in celebration, Ednol Rolle, head coach of Knights’ track and field team, said it was a tough year for them. He said the athletes really wanted the victory and worked hard for it.
“It has always been a tough road to maintain a championship or even to win. To maintain four straight victories, you have to train like you are not the defending champions but like you were second and you want this championship. For us, it has been a tough road because over the last two years we had a bus that got the kids from school to practice and to home safely. This year, we didn’t have a bus so we had to do it with the kids running from school to the beaches, sometimes the coaches used their vehicles to get them to practice and then do what we had to do to get the job done. It didn’t stop us and we maintained our practices and we did it to the best of our abilities. The kids came out and they wanted it badly – it showed here today,” Rolle said.
This is Coach Rolle’s final year with the Knights as he leaves to go into full-time coaching for the University of The Bahamas’ (UB) track and field team.
An elated T. Nicola McKay, principal of C.R. Walker, said it is fantastic to have bragging rights for another year, and she also had high praise for Coach Rolle.
“It feels fantastic. I am happy Coach Rolle did not tell me where we stood until today because he knows how worried I get. I remembered the strategy he said he has which was we do not have to win every race but as long as we have two students competing in every event and they place that is how you win the meet so I felt good about that. I am so proud of Coach Rolle because when he came to C.R. Walker we were on a two-year losing streak and he came and the passion and fire that he had ignited our students. He brought the championship trophy back in his first year at C.R. Walker,” McKay said. “He is so passionate about the youth of our nation and his passion passes on to the students making them believe in themselves. He has kept us with our winning record and always in pursuit of excellence,” she added.
The Knights were beaten in the under-20 boys sprints by the Mystic Marlins, but were able to pick up points in the other races as they had two athletes in a number of races. The Mystic Marlins won the 100 meters (m), 200m and 400m events in the under-20 boys division.
One of the most interesting and anticipated races of the day was the under-20 boys 4x 400m race. The Mystic Marlins won the race with a time of 3:25.94 to finish ahead of the Knights who recorded a time of 3:31.27. Very close behind them in third was the Rattlers in a time of 3:31.85.
The Mystic Marlins got off to a good start thanks to Malachi McCoy, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from the recently completed Hugh Campbell Classic. On the third leg, his teammate Claude Arnett was passed by the Rattlers’ Kendrick Kemp. On the anchor leg, James Augustine, gold medalist in the individual 400m race, showed why he was the best quarter-miler in the GSSSA this year. He passed the Knights’ Quintino Johnson with about 80m left in the race to bring home the gold medal for the Mystic Marlins.
As for how they plan to celebrate, Principal McKay said: “The children have been saying they want a motorcade and it is four straight wins, so I think Coach Rolle and them deserves it. I will see if we can get that permission from the Ministry of Education so we can give them their kudos because they deserve it and they did well.”
The Knights dominated the under-17 girls division winning gold in seven out of a possible 14 events. They swept the top two medals in the hurdles as both athletes in those events won gold and silver.
In the girls’ 100m hurdles, the Knights’ Shamiah Brown secured the gold with a time of 17.11 seconds. Her teammate Kienna Cambridge was the silver medalist, finishing the race in 18.35 seconds.
In the 400m hurdles, the Knights’ duo switched places on the medal podium as Cambridge won that race in 1:15.34. Brown was second with a time of 1:17.80. Rounding out the top three was the Rattlers’ Natanya Forbes.
The Knights under-17 girls also won the 100m, 200m and the 400m races.
Looking at next year, Coach Rolle said the team is young, and with a strong under-17 team this year, he expects some of them to move up and fill the void left by some of the under-20 athletes who won’t be returning.
“Some of the senior athletes who contributed are leaving but the good thing about it is that the younger ones will move up, and then there will be some who will still be under-17. I think if they continue to push and train and want it just as bad as they did for the last four years, five should be possible,” Rolle said.
They had a somewhat slow start on the first day of competition, but the Knights kept the lead throughout. At the end of the first day, they led with 209.50 points over the second place Rattlers with 181.50 points. At the end of day two, the Knights had the lead with 315 points with the Rattlers in second place with 288.50 points.
Rolle said: “We were in the lead at the end of day one and just kept the momentum. Everyone put their caps on and we went to work – those who did track gave it their all and so did those who threw and jumped. We took the lead and we said that we were going to maintain it to the end, and we did.”
At this time, it is unknown who will replace Coach Rolle at C.R. Walker.