Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Jamaicans move on to NCAA national finals

Published:Monday | May 27, 2024 | 12:11 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer
Brianna Lyston, one of the athletes to watch at the NCAA Division One nationals this week.
Brianna Lyston, one of the athletes to watch at the NCAA Division One nationals this week.

THIS PAST weekend saw the staging of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division One East and West Regional track and field meets held over two venues.

Collegiate athletes booked their spots for the National Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon, from Wednesday, June 5 to Saturday, June 8.

In what were essentially quarterfinals, top-12 individual athletes from both regional meets – the Western Regionals at the John McDonald Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the Eastern Regionals in Lexington, Kentucky – booked their tickets to the nationals.

Former Edwin Allen High School jumper Ackelia Smith led the way in the west with two wins. A junior at the University of Texas, Smith, who represented the country in back-to-back World Athletics Championships, had wind-aided wins in the long and triple jumps.

Aided by a positive wind of 3.4 metres per second, she won the women’s long jump with 6.86 metres. And with a positive wind of 3.3 metres per second, she took the triple jump with 14.31 metres.

There were also field events successes for Lamara Distin of Texas A&M and Romaine Beckford of the University of Arkansas in the west.

Distin, another World Athletics Championships representative for Jamaica, easily advanced in the high jump, soaring to 1.84 metres to be one of four athletes to record this height.

Beckford, the former Buff Bay High jumper, was the best in the men’s high jump with 2.20 metres.

World Championships silver medallist Wayne Pinnock advanced in the long jump after finishing second in the event. Pinnock, the former Kingston College jumper, competing for the University of Arkansas and the world leader in the event with 8.48 metres, booked his ticket with a second-place finish of 8.03 metres.

Former Calabar High School jumper, Nikaoli Williams, representing Oklahoma State University, was third with 7.99 metres.

Terrel Wilson, another Kingston College alum, competing for the University of Nebraska, finished third in the men’s triple jump with 16.09 metres.

On the track, former Vere Technical quarter-miler and national senior champion Nickeisha Pryce topped all qualifiers in the women’s 400 metres. The number-two-ranked female athlete in the world in the event, representing the University of Arkansas, stopped the clock at 49.93 seconds, a facility record.

Former Calabar High half-miler Rivaldo Marshall was third in his event. Representing the University of Texas, Marshall logged 1:46.96 minutes in the men’s 800 metres to book his place.

JAMAICAN ATHLETES

Shantae Foreman, the former St Jago High School jumper, picked up the only win among Jamaican athletes at the Eastern Regionals.

Competing for Clemson University, she produced a winning distance of 13.95 metres in the women’s triple jump.

Former Hydel High School athletes Gabrielle Matthews, Oneika Wilson, and Brianna Lyston, along with former Clarendon College quarter-miler Dejanea Oakley also booked places at the nationals.

Matthews, competing for Mississippi State University, was second in the women’s 400-metre hurdles in 55.45 seconds.

Oakley, competing for the University of Texas, ended second in the women’s 200 metres in a wind-aided 22.32 seconds.

Lyston maintained her good form in the sprints this season for Louisianna State University, winning her 100-metre quarterfinal heat in 10.99 seconds to be the third-fastest qualifier in the event.

Wilson, competing for Clemson University, was third in the women’s 100-metre hurdles in 12.79 seconds.