Comets set to celebrate BAISS title
The Queen’s College (QC) Comets ran away with the 2019 Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Championships title, after dethroning the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine on Friday. The three-day meet wrapped up on Friday at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The Comets went into the final day with 737 points and finished the day with 1,374 points. SAC had 720 points and managed to close the day with 1,317 points. In a distant third were the St. John’s College Giants with a total of 473.83 points.
For Comets Head Coach Everette Fraser, this is his third BAISS victory in the five years that he has been in charge of the program. He said he barely got any sleep on Thursday night, and he was up early Friday morning. His plan for the final day was to open up the lead but he said SAC fought hard.
“We wanted to open up the lead, but they fought hard. They gained on us and executed, and we didn’t. Today (Friday), we really tried to make sure our relays got through and we knew we were going to be strong in the 200 meters (m) and the 4×400 meters. I know once we got to those in front, we could have pulled it off,” Fraser said. “The plan is to always come and compete and win. That has always been the plan. Last year we had injuries, this year again we had a bunch of injuries and during the meet we had some injuries – that happens. It is all about who we get in the reserves and who can step up. The kids who came in stepped up and brought us points and that was the plan.”
Queen’s College Vice Principal Shawn Turnquest said it feels splendid to win their third championship.
“For some reason, this feels sweeter than the first two. I am so proud of our athletes who competed with grit and grace with a lot of heart,” she said. “I am very proud of the hard work of our coaches; they are quiet, focused and determined. Our students were inspired and hungry to win. They went out there and executed.”
SAC’s Head Coach Jason Edwards said for him it was a bittersweet feeling.
“It was a hard-fought fight and they deserve to win,” Edwards said. SAC had a number of injuries as well. Edwards continued: “We had some injuries – I think they had some injuries too, but they had more depth than us. They were able to plug in and we weren’t able to do that. You cannot stretch these kids because CARIFTA Trials is in a month. You have to run them, but you have to come to a point where you have to know that you cannot put them out there. It’s no excuse and it is part of the game. Everybody has injuries and it is part of the meet every year.”
SAC won five of the divisions but losing by 77 points in the under-15 girls division, 196-119, landed a huge blow.
“A lot of my athletes – this is their first year in under-15. They have a lot of second year under-15’s and that happens. Last year we had the advantage, this year they have the advantage. It is part of the game,” said Edwards.
The Comets punctuated the day by winning five out of a possible six 4×400m relays. The only one they did not win was the under-17 boys relay that was won by the Giants.
On the final race of the day, the under-20 boys 4x400m relay, the Comets broke a five-year meet record which was held by SAC. They erased the old time of 3:20.41 to put a new record of 3:19.49 in the books. Winning the silver medal was the Nassau Christian Academy (NCA) Crusaders with a time of 3:26.11. Third place went to SAC as they finished in 3:33.51.
Running the first leg for the Comets was Kendrick Major. He ran a strong first leg to set the tone for his team.
Major said: “The plan was to get out – I had an 800m final before this so I knew what we were up against. I had to give my team something to work with. We spoke about breaking the record three weeks ago so we knew what we were up against and knew what we had to run. For us, this is unexplainable.”
He passed the baton to Max Azor who kept the lead heading into the third leg. Azor, who is best known for the short sprints, said his teammates told him to go out there and do his best. He handed the baton to Shaun Miller who already won gold in the under-20 boys high jump for QC. He kept his team in the lead.
“I had a very tough leg but I already had two teammates that had already put their heart on the line so I just wanted to do that as well and bring it home for Matthew to finish it,” Miller said.
On the final leg was Matthew Thompson, 2019 BAISS gold medalist in the under-20 boys 400m. It was a tough feat for the Crusaders and SAC to pass him as he chased the meet record. Thompson ran a strong anchor leg as the Comets captured the gold and set a new meet record.
“I just wanted to get out really hard, maintain it and bring it home as hard as possible,” Thompson said.
Fraser spoke highly of his record-setting relay team.
“They got a record. That was their objective. We know they were strong and the only thing they were focused on was getting a record as this was their last year, so I just set it up and let them do what they do. They performed and did it,” said Fraser.
The three high school seniors on the relay squad were Major, Miller and Thompson. The three are close friends and they were all excited to break the meet record and to go out with a BAISS championship in their final year in high school.
“It is amazing and indescribable. I am just very happy that we’ve accomplished this feat,” Thompson said.
Miller said: “Doing it with these two guys right here and knowing we are about to leave is just great. I won’t want to be doing this with anyone else. I am just thankful to God that we came out here and did this today.”
Major added: “For me, it is great. It is something that you dream about – to carry two of your best friends to break a record and win a championship to leave with. We were doubted so it is just beautiful to see that it ended like this – like a fairytale.”
Turnquest said there are no concrete plans on how they plan on celebrating this third victory, but she did mention that there will be a quiet celebration on campus today.
Another outstanding performance on the final day of competition came from the Comets’ Tristan King, an under-13 boys athlete. King broke the record in the shot put (3 kilogram) and was a part of the record-setting 4×100 team. He also won the sprint double.
On Friday, King and his teammates, Delreo Cleare, Bohan Adderley and Kenny Moxey, set a new BAISS record of 51.16 seconds in the under-13 boys 4x100m. The previous record of 51.89 seconds was set by SAC last year. The Giants finished second in a time of 51.53 seconds, and SAC placed third, running 52.50 seconds. In the shot put, King set the new meet record at 8.66m (28’ 5”).
After winning gold with his teammates in the 4×100 relay, King ran in the 200m final, and won in 25.31 seconds. The Giants’ Christopher Roker won the silver in a time of 26.73 seconds. Behind him was his teammate, Matthias Brice, who recorded a time of 27.40 seconds for third. King won the 100m on Thursday in a time of 12.43 seconds.
Raywind Winder, a C.W. Saunders Cougars’ athlete, broke the meet records in the under-13 boys 400 and 800m. In the 800m on Friday, Winder blew the field open, winning in 2:16.35. He broke the meet record of 2:26.35 set by Kenneth Wallace-Whitfield in 2004. Picking up the silver medal was SAC’s Caleb Ferguson in a time of 2:35.43. The Giants’ Ahmaad Smith won the bronze medal as he recorded a time of 2:37.58.
Winder broke the 21-year 400m record on Wednesday with a time of 57.06 seconds in the heats. The record was 1:00.30 and was held by SAC’s Don Wood from 1997.
The Comets’ Paige Archer stood out in the under-15 girls category. She won gold in the 200m and 400m, and was a part of the winning 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams. She picked up two silver medals in the 100m and long jump events. Her time in the 200m was 26.08 seconds. In the 400m she ran 1:07.68. With her teammates, Rebecca Ferguson, Nia Richards and Alexis Williamson, they won the 4x100m relay in a time of 51.16 seconds. In the 4x400m Archer and her teammates Koi Adderley, Adonya Taylor and Raven Pratt ran a time of 4:10.08 to win the gold. In the long jump, Archer leapt 4.54m (14’ 10-3/4”) for the silver medal, and ran 12.64 seconds for the silver medal in the 100m.
SAC under-17 girls outstanding athlete Anthaya Charlton took home five gold medals and one silver medal. After winning three golds in the 100m, 100m hurdles and long jump earlier in the meet, she returned on Friday to win the 200m and was a part of the winning 4x100m relay team. Her only silver medal came in the under-17 girls 4x400m relay.
In the 4x100m relay, Charlton and her teammates Sanai Forbes, Reshae Dean and Richann Rolle recorded a time of 48.04 seconds. The Comets were second as they clocked 48.59 seconds. The bronze went to the Suns who recorded a time of 53.10 seconds.
Later in the day, Charlton captured the 200m in a time of 25.05 seconds. St. Andrew’s Hurricanes’ D’Arjha Davis won silver in a time of 25.49 seconds. The Comets’ Javonya Valcourt won the bronze medal in a time of 25.50 seconds. Charlton said she felt good about her performance at the meet and was rather proud of herself.
Jaida Knowles also had a good meet as she ran away with four gold medals and one silver medal. Having won two golds in the 100m hurdles and the 100m earlier in the meet, Knowles was looking to win golds in the 200m, 4x100m and the 4x400m on Friday. She picked up the gold in the 200m and was a part of the winning 4x100m relay team. She won silver as a member of SAC’s under-20 girls 4x400m relay team.
Knowles ran 24.19 seconds in the 200m to capture the gold medal in that event. The Giants’ Wendira Moss won the silver medal in 24.75 seconds. SAC’s Lakelle Kinteh won the bronze medal in 25.28 seconds. Knowles said she just wanted to finish the race strong and healthy and it feels good to win the double.
SAC’s team of Knowles, Kinteh, Megan Moss and Vinajah Adderley ran a BAISS record of 46.10 seconds to win gold in the under-20 girls 4x100m relay. The Comets were second in a time of 47.67 seconds. The Giants were third in a time of 48.26 seconds.
The Comets’ Shaunece Miller cleared 1.59m (5’ 2-1/2”) in the under-17 girls high jump to meet the CARIFTA qualifying standards of 1.58m (5’ 2-1/4”).
SAC’s Vinajah Adderley qualified for CARIFTA in the under-20 girls triple jump with a leap of 12.34m (40’ 6”). She passed the CARIFTA qualifying distance of 11.99m (39’ 4-1/2”).
The under-20 boys 800m had two CARIFTA qualifiers: SAC’s Richard Hardy qualified in a time of 2:06.33 in the heats and in the finals, the Giants’ Omar Kelly ran a time of 2:07.09 to go under the qualifying time.
History was also made at the meet when Oliver Townend won the first gold medal for the Lyford Cay International School Dragons. This is the first year the Dragons took part in the meet.
Townend won the under-20 boys 5000m in a time of 19:01.36. SAC won the silver and bronze medals in that event. The silver went to Lynden Johnson, finishing in a time of 19:23.96. Brian Lockhart finished in 19:33.76 for the bronze.
Townend said: “It is amazing. It is a great statement – first year we are in the BAISS and to come away with the gold along with my friend who won the silver, it is amazing. We definitely represented well out here.”
SAC won 25 consecutive BAISS track and field championships before the Comets ended that streak in 2015. The Comets then won again in 2016, before SAC won the last two. The only other school to win the BAISS track and field championships is the St. John’s College Giants.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism