Big wins for Jamaicans at NCAA Indoors
Jamaican collegiate athletes had three wins in individual events, and four top-three finishes at the NCAA Division One Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the weekend.
Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Damion Thomas, the 2018 World Athletics Under-20 champion in the 110m hurdles, was the first victorious Jamaican on the day. Competing in the men’s 60m hurdles finals, he stopped the clock at a personal-best 7.51 seconds to beat University of Iowa’s Jamal Britt, who clocked 7.52s, and Florida State University’s Trey Cunningham, who clocked 7.53s for third. Former Jamaica College sprint hurdler Phillip Lemonious, now at University of Arkansas, was fourth in a personal-best 7.54s.
Former Mount Alvernia High sprinter Kemba Nelson, now of the University of Oregon, created an upset in the women’s 60m. Out of the blocks very fast, she sprinted away from her rivals to win in a personal best of 7.05s. Her winning time was also a college and championships record. The previous collegiate record of 7.07s was shared by Oregon’s Hannah Cunliffe and LSU’s Aleia Hobbs. Nelson got the better of the 2018 champion Twanisha Terry, of University of Southern California, who was second in 7.14s, while former Convent of Mercy Academy athlete Kiara Grant, now of Norfolk State University, was third in 7.16s.
Baylor University’s Ackera Nugent, formerly of Excelsior High School, ensured that Jamaican athletes controlled the hurdle events after Thomas’ earlier success. The Baylor record holder clocked 7.92s to win. It was one-two here for Jamaican athletes as Daszay Freeman, formerly of Manchester High School and The Queen’s School, now of Arkansas, clocked a personal-best 7.99s for third. Texas Longhorn Chanel Brissett, of Jamaican parentage, came into the event as the pre-race favourite, but placed third in 8.01s, as former Glengoffe High School and Hydel High School athlete Trishauna Hemmings, now of Clemson University, was eight in 8.16s.
After a personal best of 51.41s for a fourth-place finish in the women’s 400m final, former Hydel High quarter-miler Charokee Young returned to help Texas A&M University to win the women’s 4x400m relay in a meet record of 3:26.68 minutes.
Former Edwin Allen High athlete Kevona Davis had a disappointing weekend. The University of Texas freshman missed the finals of the 60m and 200m. She ended seventh and 14th overall in her heat in 7.36s in the 60m and then clocked 23.22s, finishing second in her heat for ninth overall.
Former Kingston College jumper Carey McLeod, now of University of Tennessee, claimed bronze medals in the long jump and triple jump. In the former, he produced a personal best of 8.26m, then 16.93m in the latter. Former Cornwall College jumper Owayne Owens, competing for the University of Virginia, ended sixth in the triple jump with a personal-best 16.53m.
The other Jamaican male to reach an individual final was Ackeen Colley. Representing Western Illinois University, he ended sixth in the men’s 800m in 1:49.01 minutes.