Bahamian track and field athletes are starting off the 2020 season with a bang, and right in the mix, are a number of collegians who are running exceptional times and recording impressive distances. Despite it being so early in the season, for the most part, they are showing that they are in fantastic shape and are showing a lot of promise for the remainder of 2020 – an Olympic year.
Some are recording personal best times and distances already.
Over at the Texas Tech Corky Classic at the Sports Performance Center, in Lubbock, Texas, Shakeem Smith picked up a third place finish in the men’s 60 meters (m) hurdles.
The senior at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) broke a 20-year-old school record, clocking a personal-best 7.90 seconds, to finish behind the tandem of Damion Thomas and Eric Edwards Jr. from Louisiana State University (LSU). Thomas, a junior, won in 7.69 seconds, and Edwards, a sophomore, finished second in 7.71 seconds.
Smith broke Lee Mays’ old school record of 7.91 seconds. He posted a time of 7.96 seconds in the heats, and improved on that by six one-hundredths of a second in the final. Smith’s previous personal best time was 7.95 seconds that was done at last year’s Conference USA Championships.
UTEP Miners Head Coach Mika Laaksonen said: “The men’s team definitely looked better than a year ago. We got one school record, which is unusual in a first meet of the year. We’re proud of Shakeem Smith, who broke a 20-year-old school record in the 60m hurdles.”
Also competing in that meet was West Texas A&M’s freshman Jahmaal Wilson. He was sixth in the final in 8.13 seconds after running 8.15 seconds in the heats. Wilson currently holds the fastest time in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II.
At that same meet, Coshan Campbell, a junior at Wayland Baptist, finished third in the 600 yards, in 1:24.44, and West Texas A&M’s sophomore Blayre Catalyn finished 24th overall in the women’s 60m dash in 7.85 seconds.
Denisha Cartwright, a freshman at Central State University, currently has the leading time in the women’s 60m hurdles in the NCAA Division II. She recorded a time of 8.55 seconds at the 2020 TCNJ (The College of New Jersey) Lions Indoor Invitational at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York City. She ran 8.55 seconds in the heats and 8.62 seconds for second in the final.
Over at the Arkansas Invitational, LaQuan Nairn, a senior at Arkansas, leapt 15.83m (51’ 11-1/4”) for the win in the men’s triple jump. He won by more than a meter over second-place finisher Henry Kiner of Coffeyville Community College.
At that same meet, the Bahamian quartet of females at Oral Roberts University were in action. Gabrielle Gibson, a sophomore, was third in the 60m hurdles, in 8.64 seconds, and 12th in the 60m dash in 7.79 seconds. Sasha Wells, a junior, finished fifth in the 60m dash in 7.59 seconds. Kayvon Stubbs, a junior, finished tied for 15th in the 60m in 7.82 seconds; and Lakelle Kinteh, a freshman, was 29th overall in that event in 7.96 seconds and 13th in the long jump with a best leap of 5.23m (17’ 2”).
Bouncing back to form after missing the outdoor season a year ago, Brianne Bethel, a senior at Houston, was the first collegiate athlete to cross the finish line in the women’s 200m at the Leonard Hilton Invitational inside the Yeoman Fieldhouse in Houston, Texas, finishing in 23.99 seconds.
Competing at the Vanderbilt Invitational at the Vanderbilt Recreation & Wellness Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Indiana junior, Jyles Etienne, turned in a second-place finish in the men’s high jump, finishing with a best leap of 2.16m (7’ 1”). In the women’s high jump at that same meet, Bahamian Celine Thompson, a senior at Miami, finished 13th with a clearance of 1.60m (5’ 3”).