SMPR Panthers ready to reclaim their Island Sports throne

NO CONTEST – Joi Johnson, representing Mayaguana House at the Sister Mary Patricia Russell Panthers’ Sports Day, anchors for her Under 13 4×100 metres relay team to win the gold. (PHOTOS: SHAYNE STUBBS)

The Sister Mary Patricia Russell Panthers have begun the trek to reclaim their place atop of the Junior Division of track and field and with the Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association Wayne Smith/ Linda Malcom High School Track and Field Championships right around the corner – March 3-6 at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex – the young athletes are sharpening their spikes. 

Recently, the Panthers took over the Sport Complex for their annual Sports Day – Thursday, February 6 – where the houses of Andros, Mayaguana, Eleuthera and Bimini battled fiercely to be labeled champions.

In the midst of the action, track and field head coach Derek Wells was impressed with what he saw out of the students and he expects the Panthers to compete extremely hard come the beginning of March. 

The Panthers were multi-year champions of the Junior Division up to 2019 where the Tabernacle Falcons unseated them. 

“It’s very competitive out here,” Wells said of the annual Sports Day. “The spirit is really high, so I’m excited to see what the next level is going to be for us. 

“I don’t let my secret weapons out of the bag, but we will be at Island Sports strong with a pretty good contingent for the junior division. We lost last year by three points. 

“I’ll admit it may be difficult; we’re not as strong in the Under 13 boys like we were years ago. But, the other divisions are really, really strong. We’ll make some noise, for sure.” 

The Falcons took first place with a final score of 458 points, while the Panthers followed closely with 455 points. Wells disclosed that a few minor mistakes cost them in the standings but expects his troops to be laser focused for the upcoming Championships. 

“We had a runner false start in the finals for the hurdles and he had the fastest time going into that race. We lost 10 points right there and came up short. 

“It’s going to be a good one. I think Tabernacle is going to be strong; I’m pretty sure Jack Hayward Junior is going to be strong. But, believe me, the Panthers will be there stronger than ever.”

SMPR Principal Joyanne Pennerman was excited about the school’s inter-house competition. For Pennerman, the most impressive outlook from the day was seeing the willingness to compete from the athletes. 

“I’m so glad the students and staff. Everyone’s showing great sportsmanship and we’re just here to have a good time with a good and competitive spirit. 

“We came up short at Island Sports last year by only three points, so this year we’re coming back with a vengeance because we’re winners,” she concluded competitively.

Rounding out the remainder of the field from last year’s local high school championships, the Jack Hayward Junior Stars finished third with a total of 401 points and were trailed by the Bishop Michael Eldon Warriors with a total of 359 points.

The Sunland Stingers rounded out the top five teams with a total of 301 points and the Eight Mile Rock Blue Jays finished sixth with 159.5 points.

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