Bethel leads 10 Bahamians to Eugene

Athletes turn in season and personal bests to qualify for NCAA Championships

University of Houston Cougars senior athlete Brianne Bethel is having a great comeback in her collegiate career, securing her ticket to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, qualifying in both the 100 and 200 meters (m) events. The championships are set for June 9-12 at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

In addition to qualifying in those individual events, Bethel helped her 4×100 and 4x400m relay teams to qualify. She was in action at the four-day NCAA West Preliminaries where several other Bahamian collegiate athletes also qualified.

Rhema Otabor was the first Bahamian to qualify on Thursday, doing so in the women’s javelin at the NCAA East Preliminaries. She had a qualifying throw of 50.25m (164’ 10”), which came on her first throw. Otabor, a freshman for the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers, qualified 12th overall out of the east.

The NCAA West Preliminaries was held at Texas A&M’s EB Cushing Stadium in College Station, Texas, and the east preliminaries was held at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. Both meets began on Wednesday and wrapped up on Saturday.

The other Bahamian qualifiers out of the west preliminaries were Terrence Jones, LaQuan Nairn, Serena Brown and Charisma Taylor. Qualifying from Jacksonville were Samson Colebrooke, Megan Moss, Tamar Greene and Doneisha Anderson. Anderson did not qualify in the individual events but rather in the relay events.

Bethel, who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics two weeks ago in the 200m, powered through on Saturday in that same event, clocking 22.78 seconds. She was second in her heat and finished with the third-best time overall out of the heats. Bethel lowered her time from the prelims in which she posted 22.91 seconds.

Grand Bahama native Bethel ran the fourth-fastest time of 11.27 seconds in the 100m. She ran in the third heat and placed third in that heat. In the preliminaries on Thursday, Bethel ran a wind-aided 11.12 seconds. Before this meet, she only ran the 100m twice this season – both in April.

In the 4x100m relay race, Bethel and her teammates Camille Rutherford, Cecilia Tamayo-Garza and Tristan Evelyn clocked 43.21 seconds to win the third heat and punch their ticket to Eugene. They finished fourth overall. Rutherford, who is of Bahamian descent, started the race and passed the baton to Bethel on the second leg.

In the 4x400m relay, Bethel ran the third leg to help the team of herself, Zarie Dumas, Aliyah Taylor and Tamayo-Garza clock a season’s best of 3:33.62 to qualify for Eugene. The quartet was third in their heat and placed ninth overall. Bethel ran a blistering split of 52.16 seconds on the third leg.

Barring injury, there is no doubt that Jones will be a premier sprinter for The Bahamas. At 18, the Texas Tech Red Raiders freshman ran a junior national record and a personal best of 20.36 seconds in the 200m to qualify for the NCAA Championships. He broke his own junior national record of 20.43 seconds that was set back in 2019, when he broke Steven Gardiner’s record of 20.66 seconds. Jones is a phenom who will look to go even lower two weeks from now in Eugene. Overall, he had the fifth-best time and placed third in his heat.

In the global rankings, Jones is ranked at number three in that event in the under-20 category.

Jones anchored the Red Raiders men’s 4x100m team to a season’s best of 39.07 seconds to win the third heat and finish with the fourth-fastest time to qualify for Eugene. His teammates were Courtney Lindsey, Jacolby Shelton and Ashton O’Conner.

Nairn saved the best for last as his third and final jump of 16.05m (52’ 8”) in the triple jump launched him into ninth position. It was a personal best for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks redshirt senior. His first two jumps were measured at 15.32m (50’ 3-1/4”) and 15.60m (51’ 2-1/4”), respectively. He was in 17th place after his second jump.

Nairn was unable to qualify in the long jump event on Wednesday.

Brown, the national record holder in the women’s discus, used her second throw of 59.81m (196’ 2”) to clinch a spot in the NCAA Championships. That season’s best by the University of Iowa Hawkeyes junior placed her third overall. Her national record throw, done three years ago, is 60.39m (198’ 1-1/2”).

Taylor only needed one big jump in the triple jump to get her to Eugene. The Washington State University (WSU) Cougars sophomore had a huge leap on her first jump, posting a personal best of 13.63m (44’ 8-3/4”) on Saturday. She had the third-best jump overall after her first attempt and passed on her second and third attempts. Taylor finished third overall.

Colebrooke punched his ticket to the NCAAs in the 200m, when he ran a wind-aided time of 20.50 seconds. The Purdue University Boilermakers senior was in action in the first heat of the 200m quarterfinals where the top three from each heat and the next three best times qualified for Eugene. Colebrooke placed fourth in one of the fastest heats, and had the second-best time out of the three non-automatic qualifiers.

Colebrooke was able to help the Boilermakers’ 4x100m relay team post a season’s best of 39.06 seconds to qualify for Eugene. His teammates were Malcolm Dotson, Justin Becker and Marcellus Moore. Colebrooke ran the first leg and they finished third in the second heat. They finished with the fifth-fastest time.

Colebrooke did not qualify in the 100m.

Colebrooke’s teammate, Greene, was able to qualify in the triple jump event. The junior used his final jump of 15.90m (52’ 2”) to get into the top 12. He finished 12th overall. He fouled on his first attempt and jumped 15.06m (49’ 5”) on his second attempt to put him in 27th at the time. He qualified for Eugene on his third and final jump.

Moss qualified in the 400m, 4×100 and 4x400m relays in a busy Saturday for her, continuing what has been a stellar first outdoor season for her. In the 400m, the University of Kentucky Wildcats freshman powered through in heat three, clocking a personal best of 52.13 seconds to finish third in that heat after running 52.39 seconds in the first round on Thursday. She had the 12th fastest time in that event.

The freshman joins Otabor and Jones as three Bahamians to qualify as freshmen this season.

In the 4x400m relay, Moss and her teammates Celera Barnes, Faith Ross and Dajour Miles finished second in their heat with a time of 3:31.81. Moss ran the first leg. Overall, they placed seventh.

Also running in the 4x400m relay was University of Florida Gators sophomore Anderson. She and her teammates Taylor Manson, Sterling Lester and Talitha Diggs came away with the fastest time of 3:27.51 to set a facility record and qualify for Eugene. Anderson was brilliant on the third leg, running a split of 51.09 seconds – the fastest split on her leg. She failed to qualify in the individual 400m.

Moss anchored the Wildcats’ 4x100m relay team that finished second in heat three. They had a season’s best of 43.70 seconds. The Wildcats finished sixth overall to qualify for Eugene. Her teammates were Shadajah Ballard, Barnes and Miles.

There were other Bahamians in action at the four-day meet but they failed to make the cut for the NCAA Division I Championships.

Kansas State University (KSU) Wildcats athlete Kyle Alcine was 19th overall in the high jump event on Friday. The junior cleared 2.11m (6’ 11”) in the second flight. It was not enough to get him in the top 12.

Tahjnee Thurston was in action in the hammer throw event on Thursday. The Fresno State University Bulldogs junior threw the hammer 54.47m (178’ 8”) to place 45th overall – unable to make the top 12 cut.

It was a season’s best for the Indiana University Hoosiers junior Jyles Etienne. However, the 2.16m (7’ 1”) height was not enough to earn him a spot in the top 12 to qualify for the NCAA Championships as he placed 17th overall.

On Friday, Xavier Coakley attempted to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The University of Miami senior ran in the 110m hurdles in which he clocked 14.06 seconds. Coakley finished 21st overall after he was unable to lower his preliminary time of 13.83 seconds.

The Oral Roberts University (ORU) Golden Eagles duo of Sasha Wells and Gabrielle Gibson ran in the quarterfinals of the 100m hurdles. Wells clocked 13.45 seconds to finish 18th and Gibson recorded a time of 13.56 seconds to finish 19th overall. Both were unable to qualify for Eugene.

With a little over a week left before the NCAA Championships, the 10 qualified Bahamian athletes are expected to continue to work hard as they look to end the season on a high note.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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