University of The Bahamas (UB) had 700-plus athletes participate in its inaugural UB Cross Country Invitational at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre on Saturday.
The meet featured races between one to four kilometers with the courses starting and ending at the sports center. The open division encompassed a four-kilometer course. The under-17 division featured a three-kilometer course. The under-15 and under-13 athletes had to push through a two-kilometer course and the under-11 athletes ran a one-kilometer course.
Head coach at UB Ednal Rolle was happy with the great showing from the high schools, primary schools and the clubs.
“Cross country is the new thing, and we are trying to develop distance runners here in The Bahamas. I have a cross country team and I am looking for new recruits and looking for the best just like other colleges. This is a great showing,” Rolle said.
The open men’s division title was won by UB’s Lhevinne Joseph in a time of 13:59. The freshman won over decathlon national record holderKen Mullings, and Ramon Miller – a member of The Bahamas’ ‘Golden Knights’ from 2012.
“My goal was to win. Coach told me that I should win this race, so I came out with the mindset of winning. I came here mostly to have fun but on the other hand, it is competitive, so I had to keep that competitive aspect. The whole plan of the race was to get out as comfortable as possible. As the race go on, you pick up the pace until time to finish,” Joseph said.
Miller from Unique Athletics was second in a time of 14:36. Joseph’s teammate Kenold Jean was third in a time of 14:59.
Joseph had previously run cross country in the United States this season but, this time, he got to run in front of family and friends.
“It was fun to run at home because you get family support – my mom was here. When you are abroad, you only have one or two people cheering you on. I also had other persons cheering me on because they like what they see. I like the environment and the energy. I would do this next year and as much as I could,” Joseph sad.
UB also secured a victory in the open women’s category as freshman Lakeicia Lewis crossed the finish line first in 18:49.
“I’m happy with the victory,” Lewis said. “This morning, I started to get a little down because of the slight late start. All I kept telling myself was not to pick the pace up too much and stay in it. Coming around the first kilometer, I started to slip and fall behind. I had to motivate myself and push through.” Lewis’ teammate Nancy Joseph was the only other competitor in that division, finishing in a time of 22:13.
The event started with the open runners, so the younger athletes could observe them and hopefully gain motivation.
“I allowed my team to run first, so the kids could see the collegiate athletes run. We won the open men and women, so that is a good showing for my team. They are used to running eight kilometers and they are running four kilometers here, so it was like a walk in the park for them,” said Rolle.
Lewis said running abroad prepared her for the meet on Saturday.
Red-Line Athletics’ Daveigh Farrington ran a brilliant race, jumping ahead of the pack in the under-13 girls division. She never relinquished the lead, and won in 8:31.
“I was very surprised because it was my first cross country race and I placed first. I got out first at the beginning of the race and I just kept the same pace. I am very happy, and it is an accomplishment that I will remember,” she said.
Neveah Mackey from 3PA Stallions was second in 8:31. Shakinah Lewis from A.F. Adderley Junior High School was third with a time of 9:07.
Farrington, a seventh-grade student at St. Augustine’s College (SAC), said she is looking forward to running more cross country races.
Assistant Athletics Director at UB Sean Bastian said the meet was in the making for quite a while.
“This is our first cross country meet, but this is something that we have been planning for the last five years,” said Bastian. “Coach Rolle put on a well-organized meet. We are happy and pleased to have over 700 entries who participated in this meet. It is an awesome start.”
Bastian added, “It was a good support from what I saw and from what I heard from the other physical education instructors, they are excited to have this because they use these cross country meets as a mean of conditioning for their athletes for the remainder of the track and field season. This is something very positive for UB Athletics Department.”
Ezthza Maycock from Red-Line Athletics won the under-20 girls division with a time of 13 minutes flat. Swift Athletics’ Chris Salaslis convincingly won the under-20 boys division in 14:50.
The under-13 boys winner was Velocity Track Club’s Cordell Munroe, clocking 7:28. C.R. Walker Senior High School’s Aden Taylor won the under-17 boys title in a time of 5:55. It was 3PA Stallions’ Jasmine Mackey who finished first in the under-17 girls division when she crossed the finish line in 13:21.
Rolle is already looking at expanding the meet for next year as he looks to give athletes more exposure.
“I am looking for this to grow. Next year, we intend to bring in some colleges to be able to come in and compete against us as well as watch the high school athletes compete. It’s an opportunity for them to get scholarships as well,” he said.
UB’s cross country season is just about over, and they will gradually turn their attention to the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.