Top Jamaicans advance at NCAA East Champs
IT was smooth sailing for Jamaica's collegiate athletes on the opening day of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) East Championships in Tampa, Florida, yesterday.
The top athletes all advanced to today's quarter-final round, where the top 12 to finish in their individual events will move forward to the National Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon, June 6-9.
The Auburn University duo of Nathon Allen and Akeem Bloomfield won their heats in the men's 400 metres. Allen, the fastest collegiate male over the one-lap event this season following his 44.28 seconds at the South Eastern Conference meet two weeks ago, clocked 45.20 to win his heat and advanced as the second-fastest qualifier. Bloomfield won his heat in 45.41 to be the fifth-fastest to advance. The University of Kentucky's Dwight St Hilaire was the fastest qualifier after he won his heat in 45.08 seconds.
In the women's 400m, Sharika Barnett, competing for the University of Florida, captured her heat in 51.66 to be the second-fastest qualifier.
Natalliah Whyte and Jonielle Smith of Auburn were impressive in the women's 100m. Whyte, formerly of St Jago High, won her heat in 11.12 seconds for the fourth-best time overall, while Smith, formerly of Wolmer's Girls', finished second in a season's best of 11.14, which was sixth overall. Shauna Helps, competing for Florida State University, was third in her heat in 11.44 but secured the 24th and final qualifying spot.
Purdue University's Waseem Williams and Raheem Chambers of Auburn won their respective heats to advance in the men's 100m. Williams, the former Jamaica College sprinter, clocked 10.22, while Chambers won his heat in 10.25.
Former Vere Technical athlete Andrenette Knight and Kimone Green, a past student of St Elizabeth Technical, advanced to the next round of the women's 400m hurdles. Knight, who is now competing for the University of Virginia, finished second in her heat in 57.57 seconds, while Green of Liberty University was third in 58.70.