It was a rainy two days in the capital, but athletes still came out and performed at the 2019 Bahamas Association of Athletic Association (BAAA) Junior National Track and Field Championships at the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium this past Friday and Saturday.
This was a last chance meet for athletes to qualify for two major upcoming regional events – the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-18 and Under-23 Championships in Queretaro, Mexico, from July 5-7; and the Pan American Under-20 Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, from July 19-21.
There were five young men who met the qualifying standards for the NACAC Championships – Tarajh Hudson, Tamar Greene, Kyle Alcine, Ken Mullings and Kendrick Thompson. Hudson was the only new qualifier.
Laura Pratt-Charlton, BAAA special projects officer and lead coordinator, said that the meet went well despite a change in schedule because of inclement weather.
“I felt that the meet went good. The weather did cause delays and postponements, but everyone was determined to be sure that the athletes got a fair chance to compete under the best conditions that the day would have presented. As a result, we had to stop the competition Friday evening and we had to revisit the schedule and made changes to start earlier today (Saturday) to ensure that the athletes would be able to finish before the time that the weatherman said that it would get worse,” Pratt-Charlton said.
Hudson made the qualifying mark in the under-18 boys discus on Friday night when he threw 53.64 meters (m) – 175’ 11-3/4”. That surpassed the 52m (170’ 7-1/4”) qualifying standard for the under-18 portion of NACAC. He was the only competitor in that event.
Greene was in action the previous weekend at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, for the Purdue University Boilermakers.
He was a previous qualifier for the under-18 boys triple jump. This past weekend, he leapt for 15.61m (51’ 2-1/2”) to qualify again. The qualifying mark was 15.48m (50’ 9-1/2”). Timothy Wilson recorded a leap of 14.31m (46’ 11-1/2”) to finish second. Only Greene and Wilson competed in this event.
It was clear that athletes did not perform at their usual standards, likely because of the weather, but Pratt-Charlton said the key for them was to show up and give an honest effort.
“The weather was not conducive for some of the athletes to have their best performances but most of them would have qualifying marks previously. The key was for them to be here to show up and give honest efforts in their events, and we would have to refer to their previous qualifying marks for those athletes.” Pratt-Charlton said.
Despite the weather, Alcine had a season’s best performance in the high jump. He cleared 2.13m (6’ 11-3/4”) to meet the qualifying mark of the same height in the under-23 division. Finishing behind him in the open division was Indiana University Hoosiers’ Jyles Etienne. After clearing 2.15m the previous weekend at the NCAA Championships, Etienne could only manage a leap of 2.10m (6’ 10-3/4”) on a rainy day.
Ryan Ingraham stopped at 2m (6’ 6-3/4”) to finish third.
The open men’s decathlon was a close one between Kendrick Thompson and Ken Mullings. Thompson finished with 7,148 points for the win, edging Mullings in an upset. Mullings finished with 7,102 points. Finishing a distant third was Edvaughn Carey with 5,711 points.
The two Kens battled down to the last second in the 1,500m race – the final event of the decathlon. Mullings led for most of the race. On the final lap, Thompson began to charge. With under 40 meters left in the race, Thompson passed Mullings and crossed the finish line first in a time of 5:02.74. Mullings was right behind him, posting a time of 5:02.97. Carey was a distant third with a time of 5:40.72.
Mullings is the national record holder in the open men’s decathlon with 7,427 points, but Thompson has experienced success over Mullings in the multi events before. Thompson won the gold medal in the open boys octathlon with a CARIFTA record 5,849 points at the CARIFTA Games in St. George’s, Grenada, in 2016. Mullings was third in that competition with 5,560 points.
Pratt-Charlton said that she expects the athletes to do well in Mexico as they are highly ranked in the region.
“Those athletes are very strong. When you look at their ranking in the region on the NACAC or IAAF, you see that most of them are ranked within the top five. We expect for them to do exceptionally well because we realize that our athletes rise to the occasion once they have that competition. Just as we did with CARIFTA, where we had some of our best performances within the last 14 years, we expect them to step up. This is the best of the best that we have. They are all excited and ready to go. Some of them are going back to their training in college, and will be ready,” Pratt-Charlton said.
A few college athletes returned home for the meet.
The full teams for all of the regional meets are expected to be named later. Next up on the BAAA calendar will be the senior nationals at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama. That event is set for July 26-27. The BAAA Relay Invitational will follow the senior nationals, one day later on July 28, at the same venue.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism