Tyra Gittens leads Trinidad and Tobago charge at NCAA Division I

Tyra Gittens -
Tyra Gittens -

OLYMPIC-BOUND long jumper Tyra Gittens (Texas A&M) leads a contingent of four TT track and field athletes who secured qualification, over the weekend, to the June 9-12 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Championships.

The quartet confirmed their spots after producing commendable performances at the East and West Preliminary round meets in Jacksonsville, Florida and Bryan-College Station, Texas, US respectively, which were held from Wednesday to Saturday.

Gittens secured NCAA Division I qualification in the women’s long jump by topping the field with a 6.95-metre leap on Thursday.

She will be joined by sprinters Akanni Hislop (Louisiana State University), Eric Harrison (Ohio State University) and Dwight St Hillaire (University of Kentucky) who also advanced via their respective men’s 4x100m relay teams.

On Thursday, at the East Preliminary meet, Hislop’s team won the first 4x100m relay heat in 38.85 seconds while St Hillaire’s Kentucky squad was third in 39.45 seconds. Harrison’s Ohio State advanced after they finished second (39.10) in heat three.

St Hillaire, however, also punched his NCAA ticket in the men’s 400m. The junior athlete placed fourth in 45.91 seconds and was good enough to be ranked 11th overall of the 12 advancing quarter-milers.

Earlier in the preliminary round, St Hillaire stopped the clock on 45.46 seconds to top the fourth qualifying heat.

Harrison also booked a spot in the men’s 200m as he topped the heat two quarter-final with a speedy 20.31 seconds run. His time was sixth fastest of the 12 advancing sprinters. In the earlier rounds, Harrison placed second in heat six and ninth overall in 20.62 seconds.

The Ohio State senior was, however, unable to book a spot in the men’s 100m even though he clocked a personal best of 10.16 seconds in a sixth place finish running out of heat two.

Similarly, Hislop did not progress in the 100m as he placed sixth in heat three in a season best time of 10.19 seconds.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Rae-Anne Searville did not get past the women’s 400m quarter-finals after placing eighth in heat one. The University of Southern California freshman clocked 54.16 seconds and placed 23rd overall of the 24 quarter-milers. Prior to her quarter-final stint, she finished fourth (53.40) in heat six of the preliminary round.

Also unable to qualify out of the West prelims was Kion Benjamin (University of Minnesota), who placed 27th in a personal best time of 20.97 seconds in the men’s 200m. He was also unsuccessful in the men’s 100m, placing 31st in 10.41 seconds.

In the East, University of Arkansas’ at Pine Bluff’s Safiya John (women’s 100m hurdles), University of Alabama’s Cherisse Murray (women’s shot put) and University of Southern Florida’s Kadesha Prescott (women’s 100m) also did not secure an NCAA Division I ticket.

John was 38th overall in 13.55 seconds while Murray just missed out on the qualifying 12 athletes after launching the 16.50 metres, good enough for 13th spot overall. Prescott also exited in the opening round of competition as she clocked a personal best 11.63 seconds which was ranked 38th overall.


"Tyra Gittens leads Trinidad and Tobago charge at NCAA Division I"

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