The Bahamas National High School Track and Field Championships are only a few days away.
The event is set to get underway March 8-10 at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in New Providence. Schools out of Grand Bahama will take aim at unseating the St. Augustine’s Big Red Machine as champions, while a few local student athletes will be seeking repeat titles.
It is expected that the sprints, as always, will have the full attention of the parents, students and other spectators. One local coach sees the potential dominance by some of Grand Bahama’s finest in the distance races.
Legacy Athletics’ coach Jason Larrimore believes that the High School Nationals will be the stage that Grand Bahama leaves its mark on in the distance competitions.
“When you look at what they did at Island Sports, we already have some athletes who have posted the fastest times currently.
“Clayton Henfield (Tabernacle) ran the fastest time in the country in the 1500 meters and the second fastest in the 800m.
“Travis Joseph (BMES) leads the country in the 1500 meters and the 5,000 meters for the Under 20 boys. His teammate, Raynon Hudson (St. George’s) is second in the 1500 meters and 5,000 meters.
“Our Under 15 boy (Matthew Henfield) competes in the 3,000 meters and leads the country. Our Under 15 girl (Akaya Lightbourne) leads the 1500 meters in any age group. So the distance program that myself and Ms. (Sandra) Laing put together, everybody sees what we were working towards now. We’re just trying to get more people to hop on board now to get move involved; not just in the distance events but in every event,” said Larramore.
In reference to the times, Larrimore pointed out that Clayton won the gold at Island Sports in the 1500 meters in a time of four minutes and 35.76 seconds. Clayton also won gold in the 800 meters with a time of 2:05.07. Joseph won the gold in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:18.22. Hudson won the silver in that same race with a time of 4:28.95. Hudson went on to win the gold in the 5000 meters with a time of 17.57.01.
Matthew secured the gold in the 3,000 meters in a time of 10:51.15 and Lightbourne won gold in the 1500 meters in the time of 5:14.56. In a previous article published by this daily the Grand Bahamian athletes came close but were unsuccessful in posting any times below the CARIFTA standards. Part of the reason for that was the “lack of competition” according to the Legacy Coach.
“Some of them (events) weren’t competitive. So I feel in terms of competition, that’s what we were asking (BAAA) president Rosamunde Carey and those about trying to put a rabbit in the races. I know their potential and some of them didn’t come close to it because they had no competition.”
Looking ahead to the CARIFTA Trials set for March 16-17 in New Providence, the competition is expected to ramp up, according to the coaches.
“The real competition is going to come at the CARIFTA Trials. I have two athletes coming in from Florida. They posted the fastest times in the region in the Under 20 boys’ 5,000 and the Under 17 boys’ 3,000 meters.
“We’re looking for the 5,000 to be competitive, hopefully have three qualifiers although only two can make it. If they hit the CARIFTA qualifying standard they would also qualify for World Juniors.”
Overall, Larrimore suggested that athletes should still run their hardest to meet the standards, but there’s no need for an athlete to feel like they failed.
“When you look at some of the times, even around the region, our times aren’t too far off from what they’re running. It’s just that our standards are harder.
“Sometimes when they go to CARIFTA they end up running against competition and the competition runs slower.
“In the under 17 boys’ 3,000m last year a guy ran a 9:38 approximately at Trials last year. The winning time at CARIFTA was around 9:38.00.”