Team confirmed for NACAC Age Group

Eight earn spots on Team Bahamas; set to travel in July

Following a very competitive Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Age Group Trials and Kids Athletics Championships at the end of last week at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, an eight-member national team was able to be identified, and will represent The Bahamas at the 4th North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Age Group Championships, July 15 and 16, in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

The top two finishers in the under-13 and under-15 divisions will receive that honor, going up against the region’s best in about a month’s time. As far as island representation is concerned, the team is split straight down the middle with four coming from Grand Bahama and the other four from the capital New Providence.

In the under-13 girls division, Trinity Rolle from Fast Track Athletics in Grand Bahama won the title, accumulating 2,594 points over the two days of competition. Symiah Strachan from Boost Athletics in New Providence finished second with 2,535 points. Jazae Johnson from the Striders Track Club missed out on the two automatic qualifying spots for the national team but secured the bronze on Friday, finishing third with 2,511 points.

“I was a lil nervous, but my coach just told me to hang in there and I did that,” said Rolle. “I just went out there and pushed as hard as I could and I’m glad that I was able to come out on top. I feel great. I still have to work on my field events some more but I feel good with where I’m at and I’m confident that I will do well at the NACAC.”

Fast Track Athletics Head Coach Rayvanno Ferguson said he is very proud of Rolle.

“She did exceptionally well. She went out there and did what she needed to do. We worked on her weaker events over the past weeks and she was really able to improve. I knew that her strong event would have been the 800 and she went out there and showed how strong she is in that event. I knew that she would have had a far better 800 than most of the other athletes.”

The under-13 girls and boys competed in a pentathlon, doing five events over two days. The under-13 girls did the 60 meters (m), high jump, long jump, ball throw and the 800m; and the under-13 boys competed in the 60m, high jump, long jump, ball throw and the 1,000m.

Rolle comfortably won the 800m, finishing in 2:37.12 to secure her victory in the under-13 girls pentathlon.

A pair of Grand Bahamians, both from Hugh Campbell Primary School in Freeport, Grand Bahama, captured the top two spots in the under-13 boys division. Avonte Lotmore from Grand Bahama Heats Athletics, won with 2,828 points. Emmile Higgins, from Fast Track Athletics, finished second with 2,804 points, just edging Ahkeel Williams, from Fast Forward Athletics, who finished third with 2,801 points.

“It feels amazing,” said Lotmore. “To come here, win and be a part of Team Bahamas is a great feeling. The workouts were hard but I was determined to put in the work. I just have to continue to work on my stamina and speed and I feel I will be okay.”

Lotmore’s coach at Grand Bahama Heats John Ingraham said his athlete was training hard all season and this is the moment that he was waiting for.

“I’m very proud of him. He now has a chance to showcase his talents throughout the whole region,” said Ingraham. “He is an excellent athlete. I’m very proud of him and what he was able to achieve. I told him to just go out there and show me that you want this, and he was able to do that. It’s been a back and forth between Avonte and Emmile (Higgins) all season. They push each other in practice and it’s a good thing that two Grand Bahamians made it through. It’s a proud moment for Grand Bahama.”

The under-15 girls and boys competed in seven events on Thursday and Friday. The under-15 girls did the 80m, 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump, ball throw, shot put and the 1,000m. The under-15 boys competed in the 80m, 80m hurdles, high jump, long jump, ball throw, shot put and the 1,200m.

In the under-15 girls division, Keyezra Thomas from Speed Begins out of Grand Bahama, won easily with 4,159 points. CARIFTA high jumper Alexandria Komolafe, representing X-Treme Athletics out of New Providence, was a distant second, finishing with 3,447 points. Caitylyn Smith, from Red-Line Athletics, finished third with 3,234 points.

Thomas was a qualifier in the 400m for the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games in New Providence, The Bahamas, but was unable to compete because she is under the age limit. To be eligible for CARIFTA track and field, an athlete has to be turning 14 in the year of competition. Thomas is just 13 and won’t turn 14 until 2024. Thomas is also the under-13 girls champion from the 2021 NACAC Age Group Championships in Managua, Nicaragua.

“I feel good. I’m happy,” she said. “I just want to thank God for allowing me to come this far and perform the way that I did. I fell in love with the high jump at this meet so that is definitely one of my favorite events now. I surprised myself with how well I did. I didn’t know that I would have done so well in the high jump. I’m pleased and I’m looking forward to representing The Bahamas again, and bringing home the gold again.”

Keyezra is coached, in part, by her mother Meoshe Thomas, an assistant coach with Speed Begins. The head coach of Speed Begins is Audrick Lightbourne.

“I was pleased with her performance because she worked toward it and the results showed,” said mother and coach Meoshe. “She put her best foot forward and I can’t ask for more than that. I would want her to work on the hurdles a bit more. The good thing is that she saw her mistake in the hurdles and she is prepared to fix that. I also feel like she needs to work on the long jump a lil more. Once she works on those two events, she will be fine.”

Thomas completely dominated the competition, winning the 80m, shot put and 1,000m and placing second in the long jump, ball throw and high jump events. She was fourth in the 60m hurdles. The high jump was the most shocking result as she challenged CARIFTA high jumper Komolafe throughout the competition, finally giving way at 1.58m (5’ 2-1/4”). Komolafe cleared a personal best 1.61m (5’ 3-1/4”) to win the high jump competition.

Coming out on top in the under-15 boys division was Jachario Wilson of Bahamas Speed Dynamics out of New Providence, finishing with 4,495 points. Kamron Henfield of Team Velocity out of New Providence was second with 4,430 points, and Rohman Rolle from Fast Forward Athletics finished third with 4,272 points.

“I feel good about it,” said Wilson. “I had a good start to the meet and I was able to push through. I know I was going to be able to execute. I knew that once I executed in the 1,200 and run my race, I would be fine. I feel like I have to work on the high jump and long jump a lil more and once I do that, I will be fine.”

Bahamas Speed Dynamics Head Coach Darren Lightbourne said he always had the confidence that Wilson would pull through. This is Lightbourne’s second athlete that has qualified for the NACAC Age Group Championships. He guided Jonathan Higgs to a qualifying spot in 2021.

“I feel awesome,” said Lightbourne. “This is Jachario’s first time doing seven events in the multi and he did extremely well. Now, we’ll get ready to travel and represent the country and I have no doubt he will do well again. He’s well-rounded and I’m extremely proud of him and what he was able to accomplish.”

The eight first and second place finishers from the local age group championships, Trinity Rolle and  Symiah Strachan in the under-13 girls, under-13 boys Avonte Lotmore and Emmile Higgins, Keyezra Thomas and Alexandria Komolafe in the under-15 girls and under-15 boys Jachario Wilson and Kamron Henfield, will represent The Bahamas at the 4th NACAC Age Group Championships, set for July 15 and 16, at the Athletics Stadium inside the La Barranquita Sports Complex in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

Kids Athletics Club Head Coach Sharon ‘Sherry’ Francis will lead that team and she will be assisted by Kenrid Munroe and Mikhilo Strachan. Dr. Karlton Rolle is the Team Doctor and Sonia Black is the chaperone.

“This meet was very competitive and it was amazing to see how the kids went out there and laid everything on the line to complete all of their events,” said Francis. “A lot of the divisions went right down to the final event to decide who the overall winner would be. Some kids would be strong in a particular event and not so strong in another and the results kept fluctuating over the two days of competition so it was very competitive. We appreciate the efforts of the kids. The results were impressive and we will be taking a very strong team to the NACAC Age Group Championships in the Dominican Republic.”

Following the conclusion of the age group trials, the BAAA Kids Athletics Championships was held on Saturday where national champions were crowned in all of the youth age divisions. The BAAA Age Group Trials and Kids Athletics Championships is one of the more comprehensive three-day meets on the local track and field calendar, and brings the youth athletics season to an end.

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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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