Sports

Astwood ecstatic with national record

Coming into this season, Bahamian collegiate athlete Acacia Astwood was optimistic with the strides she was making in the sport of track and field.

Given what she did a year ago, and the intensity of her off-season training, she knew she was set for some big performances this season. Focusing more on the shot put and weight throw events, Astwood has performed admirably this indoor season, setting herself up for a grand showing outdoors.

On Saturday, the UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) Rebels sophomore threw more than a meter further than her previous personal best in the women’s weight throw, good enough for second at the Mountain West Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Astwood, 19, won the silver medal with a massive throw of 19.02 meters (m) – 62’ 4-3/4” – on the final throw of the competition. Tarynn Sieg, a junior at Colorado State, won the gold with a throw of 19.70m (64’ 7-3/4”), and Astwood’s teammate, Cassidy Osborne-Butler, was right behind Astwood, settling for the bronze with a throw of 19.01m (62’ 4-1/2”).

Coming into the meet, Astwood’s previous personal best was 17.27m (56’ 8”) and she topped that mark on each of her legal throws on Saturday. She had a throw of 17.62m (57’ 9-3/4”) in the first round, 18.12m (59’ 5-1/2”) in the second round and then had a foul on each of her next three throws before turning in a massive throw of 19.02m in the final round. That is a new national record, and she becomes the first Bahamian woman to throw over 19m in the women’s weight throw.

“I felt really good about my performance,” said Astwood from the school campus yesterday. “I had my eyes on the national record from freshman year when I first picked up the weight throw. All season long, I had put in a lot of work in the weight room and on the track, so I knew coming into a big meet like championships I knew I had what it takes to improve on my personal best and this would [have] been my last shot at it. I definitely played it safe by coasting into finals, however with the support of my team, they really gave me the energy I needed to land my big throw in the final round. I actually did not realize that I made the podium because I was so caught up in the moment of my big personal best.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships is set for March 13-14 at the same venue where the Mountain West Indoor Championships were held. Astwood will miss the NCAA Indoors after falling short of the top 16 by about two-and-a-half meters. The qualification period ended on Sunday.

Nevertheless, having set personal best marks in both the shot put and weight throw events indoors this season, she likes where she is headed. In the shot put event, she improved her personal best to 11.69m (38’ 4-1/4”), good enough for 11th at the Lumberjack Team Challenge in January.

Corrington Maycock, who coaches Astwood locally with Blue Chip Athletics, said it’s a pleasure seeing Bahamians in general making their mark on the college scene in the throws. Just a week prior, Wagner College junior Tiffany Hanna had a massive throw of 18.28m (59’ 11-3/4”) in the weight throw.

“I’m so proud of Acacia, stepping up to an event that is not common here in The Bahamas and she embraced it and is steadily progressing,” said Maycock. “Acacia has the speed and strength she needs to become a 22m (72’ 2-1/4”) weight throw athlete and transferring those same qualities to a great hammer thrower. I’m looking for great things in the near future from her and I continuously wish her the best.”

Maycock said with the quality of Bahamian throwers on the horizon, he expects the respective national records to be broken over and over.

“The Bahamas is starting to produce some great field athletes who will complement what we had in the past, like Bradley Coopers, Laverne Eves and Denise Taylors,” said Maycock. “We have some potential stars coming up like Astwood, Rhema Otabor, Tarajh Hudson, Keyshawn Strachan, Anne-Marie Oriakhi and Calea Jackson, just to name a few. This is the future of throwing in The Bahamas. Congratulations to those now representing in college and taking throwing a little further for The Bahamas.”

Astwood is a former CARIFTA medalist, and misses the eligibility age for this year’s CARIFTA by just a couple months. She said she will continue preparing for the outdoor season and looks forward to continued progression.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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