For six straight years the Tabernacle Falcons have continued to cast their shadow over the Senior Division in High School Track and Field.
The Falcons mustered up a track and field seasons that played a big role in the school being recognized as the top National Secondary School in Athletics by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture this past December.
With a seventh straight Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletics Association track and field championship on their agenda, the Falcons hope to keep that momentum going come February.
Like many other programmes on the island, losing your top senior athletes as a result of graduation can be rough waters to navigate. But head coach Nickito Johnson assured that his stable of athletes will continue to perform at the level that has granted the school so much success over the years.
With some time left before Island Sports gets under way the Falcons’ head track and field coach stated that the first order of business will be getting the athletes out to practice and getting in shape.
“As we head into track season our first primary objective is to get in shape. A lot of kids haven’t been practicing so as of today (January 7) they know they have to come out and start getting in shape. Those persons doing field events they’ll be working on their field events during the week,” he shared, “A lot of people miss the idea that it’s a track and field meet and they just concentrate on the track part. But we here at Tabernacle we know if we compete strongly in the field events it’s a given after that.”
Front runners for the Falcons’ squad last year in Corey Sherrod, Shaquille Higgs, Devontae Smith and Kaylin Hewitt and others have all moved on due to graduation. The Falcons boasted some strong talent out of Under 17 division that are expected to move up the ranks in terms of age group. With that said, Johnson is confident that the team will be more than ready to defend their crown.
“We took a blow. We lost a good amount of senior boys who would have carried us. But, while we would have lost them we have a very good group of Under 17 boys from last year who are coming up to be Under 20. What makes them so special is they won both relays at the Nationals last year.
“And we have top sprinters like Romeo McKenzie, Terrance Jones, Denardo Adderley, kids who are Under 17 now and could easily fill the void. We’ve always gad Ethney Stubbs. On the girls’ side it’s going to be a struggle,” he said candidly, “We have some good Under 17 girls from last year but we don’t have as much from last year.”
With the aforementioned athletes moving up in age, the Under 17 division is expected to feature the likes of Deangelo McKenzie, Mateo Smith, Zion Campbell, Collinique Farrington, Cassie and Cassidra Thompson moving up from the Under 15 division.
“Our Under 17 division is going to have to carry the team and we’ve faced that as our reality. But we’re going to be really good.”
Derek Wells and the Sister Mary Patricia Russell Panthers reclaimed their spot as champions of the Junior Division last year. Prior to that the Falcons broke the Panthers’ extended run as champions back in 2017. With a lot of respect for their cross-town rivals, Johnson admitted it is tough compete with the Panthers for one reason.
“With Sister Mary they have us by numbers when it comes to the Junior Division. I say that because with the Under 13 division if we have two or three kids here who are Under 13, some of them are not that developed as athletes. So, we struggle to make up those points in that division while Sister Mary is taking full advantage of that.
“But our Junior Division led by Lynden Johnson, Stephanique Dean in the boys and girls respectively is where we have to make up all the points possible to take Sister Mary down.”
The Falcons have no shortage of talent, evident by their run as champions over the years. But motivation in practices and performance has been proven to be important for any champion to maintain their edge; something Johnson noted that he stresses to his athletes, year-in-and-year-out.
“Motivation - encouraging them to practice and get in shape. And then when we have our House Sports we have a couple of meetings after once we’ve picked the team we get the camaraderie going because some of the athletes are in their own track clubs. So, we just work on the chemistry from that point on.
“Then one of the things we try to do that is giving them new uniforms, something new, something different ever year. Kids love the idea of something different. And they’re already asking when their first meet is. They just want to be a part of something good,” he concluded.