Ten-time Jamaican national shot put champion Dorian Scott has been appointed head coach of the women's track & field/cross country programs at UNLV, the university announced on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old Scott takes up the appointment after serving for the last nine years as the Director of Field Events and Throws Coach at Florida State University where he coached the likes of Gleneve Grange, Shanice Love, Kellion Knibb, who were each national junior record holders as well as Emmanuel Oniya and Chadwick DaCosta.

According to UNLV’s Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois, Scott, a two-time Olympian was the best fit for the school.

"Dorian's values-based leadership, preparation both as an Olympic athlete and as a coach at the highest levels, along with his commitment to the student-athletes holistic development became apparent throughout this process," Reed-Francois said.

"He has an infectious enthusiasm, a relentless work ethic and he will bring a very high energy to our program. His focus on excellence both on and off the track and field, as well as his coaching and recruiting experience at Florida State will continue our upward trajectory and positive momentum.

 "Dorian's plan and vision for the future of the UNLV track & field and cross country programs were impressive, and we look forward to competing for championships under his direction in the near future. Thank you to Sarah Wattenberg and the search committee for their leadership throughout this search."

Scott, who is also a two-time Commonwealth Games silver medalist said he was grateful for the opportunity.

"I would like to thank UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield and Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois for the opportunity to join such an exciting and dynamic athletics department. It is a true honour to become the head coach of track and field/cross country at UNLV,” he said.

“I'm excited to elevate the program and to bring some special student-athletes to this amazing city. My family and I can't wait to join the UNLV community!

"I would also like to thank the administration and staff at Florida State, especially head coach Bob Braman, for his leadership and support. He entrusted me to help build up the field events and gave me a lot of freedom to make FSU throws my own. I would not be the coach I am without my experience at FSU."

During Scott’s tenure at FSU, the women’s programme won seven ACC titles while the men have won nine. His throwers have also set seven school records.

Scott, who was named the 2017 USATFCCA South Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, rejoined the Florida State program in 2012 after coaching the 2012 season at San Diego State University as an assistant. While there, he coached one of SDSU's student-athletes to the 2012 NCAA Outdoor discus title, which contributed to the Aztecs finishing in the top 10.

 As a student-athlete at Florida State, Scott became the No. 2 shot-putter in school history. He earned first-team All-America honours in 2005, contributing to the team's fourth-place national finish - the program's best in 25 years. The 2005 ACC Outdoor shot put champion, he was a five-time All-ACC honoree and part of five conference team titles. He still holds FSU's Mike Long Track record (21.45 meters/70-4.50), which he set as a professional in 2008 prior to the Beijing Olympics. Scott also became the first Jamaican thrower to reach the finals in the shot put during the 2012 London Olympics.

After spending the last seven years at St John’s and last season as an associate head coach, four-time Guyanese Olympian Aliann Pompey has been appointed head coach of the school’s Track and Field and Cross Country programme.

Strange as it may sound, Tyra Gittens is both happy and disappointed with her record-breaking performance in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships at Bryan College Station in Texas last weekend.

The 22-year-old Trinidadian who attends Texas A&M University scored a personal best 6418 points to win the two-day event. Her score which was just two points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420 points is also a championship-leading effort as well as a meet and facility record. 

“I am proud of where I am. I am proud of my accomplishments. I hope the world sees that I have so much potential and I have so much more room to grow. This is just the beginning,” she said.

Along the way, Gittens achieved several personal milestones, including a massive personal lifetime best in the long jump of 6.96, which qualifies her for the Olympics this summer and a personal best and a national record 1.95m for the high jump and a centimetre shy of the Olympic standard.

It was also the first time in history that a woman had jumped 1.95m in the high jump and beyond 6.95m in the long jump in the same heptathlon. Gittens now holds national records for the high jump outdoors and indoors, the long jump outdoors and indoors, the pentathlon and the heptathlon.

However, she wasn’t satisfied and revealed her true ambitions, believing she is capable of so much more.

“I don’t like to talk about my goals publicly because then people take it as ‘Oh, she’s trying to talk smack’ but I want people to hold me accountable when I say this. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete and that means breaking Jackie Joyner’s record and that’s what I’m going for.

 “This is my first time saying that publicly but I have never been at a point in my life when I’ve felt so confident saying that, and after this weekend, even though my heptathlon wasn’t what I wanted, my mentality and how I pushed through one of the hardest weekends but one of the best weekends of my life, I am ready and I know, I really think I can get this world record.”

 It is that lofty goal and it is the accompanying mentality that has her experiencing mixed feelings about her record-breaking weekend. Joyner-Kersee’s heptathlon record, which has stood since 1988, is 7291 points and it explains why Gittens wasn’t so happy with her performance last weekend because she understands that if she is to break that record, she has to be better at all her disciplines, not just two or three.

 “The long jump and the high jump were the highlights of my meet. I rarely surprise myself but I definitely surprised myself in the long jump,” she the Texas A&M senior said.

 “The high jump wasn’t necessarily a surprise. I knew this is where I wanted to be around this time. In the long jump, I didn’t expect to reach 6.90 so soon. I know I could do it, I knew I could be up there but I was thinking later on in my career, like years later.”

However, as good as she was in the long and high jumps, Gitten concedes that her performance in several other disciplines did not meet her expectations and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

 “The shot put definitely hurt me, just because of how inconsistent it was. It was embarrassing for me to come off such a high in the high jump, not to be able to gather myself correctly for the shot put. I thought I did but I still had a lot of adrenalin and excitement from the high jump and it never allowed me to focus on the shot put and it just didn’t click,” she said of her 658-point 11.96m throw that was well short of her 13.58m throw that earned her 807 points in a heptathlon on May 8.

 She was equally devastated by how poor she was in the 800m that she completed in 2:31.97 and which she said came as a shock.

 “The 800 was a surprise. I did not expect to run that slow. I started the race and normally I have someone yelling my 100m splits but this time there were two events going on so my coach wasn’t able to so he put some people to say the times. I didn’t hear them and so I was kind of running blindly and it wasn’t until the last 150 when I saw the finish-line time board and I saw that I was way behind my pace,” she said.

“I honestly started tearing up running down the straightaway because I knew I didn’t set myself up in the other events like the shot put and the hurdles, even though my long jump and high jump were great, the Hep was not very consistent for me.” 

Such is the mentality of the effervescent Trinidadian that she has chosen to focus on the silver lining rather than dwell on the dark clouds.

 “That being said, everything happens for a reason. I was very impressed with myself that my hep was a pretty bad one. The things that saved me, the high jump, my 200 and long jump because everything else was not where I wanted to be at all,” she confessed, “the hurdles, shot put, javelin even though it was PB in the Hep for me, I see myself a little farther along than 40 metres. The 800 definitely broke my heart.”

She was devastated to come so close to the Olympic standard. 

“Being only two points away from the standard is definitely tough to swallow because it was just two points and I knew what I needed to do but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It happened. I came out with an Olympic standard and literally kissing the other standards,” she said. 

“I am on pace. I knew my open events would come before my Hep because it is a lot harder to put together than get one jump. I am not worried. I am not stressing. I am actually above my pace for what I want to do and the next Hep is going to be bigger and better because I am going to come in ready to be more consistent and ready to stay focused. 

“I want to shine. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete, meaning I want to be consistently good, amazing in some (events) and consistently good in others. I would love to be a Jackie Joyner and be amazing at all seven but that’s not my reality, so you have to take advantage of what you’re really good at and then you have to work and stay focused on what you’re not so gifted in.”

 Gittens also finished second in the individual high jump, clearing 1.89m. She was also fourth in the long jump with a 6.56m leap. For her efforts, she was named United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week.

 

Baylor University’s Ackera Nugent continued her impressive freshman season on Saturday with a pair of wins at the Aggie Invitational at Bryan-College Station in Texas.

When former Kingston College student-athlete Sherwayne Allen graduated from Auburn University on Saturday, May 1, he was the only black graduate with a degree in Pure Mathematics. He was also the first member of his immediate family to graduate from university.

Saturday also marked the end of a journey of acquiring his first degree and the start of another, his pursuit of a Master’s in the field of Data Sciences.

Looking back at that day, Allen said it was an emotional time for him.

“I had mixed emotions at my graduation. When I think back to all the obstacles I have faced from Jamaica, in college, being the only black kid in the majority of these classes and was the only black graduate in Mathematics, to now reaching the climax of it all, I was elated so much so that I almost cried,” he told Sportsmax.TV.

"Being the first of my immediate family to go to a university is a great accomplishment for me. Not having my parents experiencing university, made it somewhat of a challenge as certain questions I could not ask them and would have to seek outside help. But my parents are extremely proud of my achievements.

“However, I also had feelings of uncertainty of my next move, although I have opportunities awaiting me. The emotions were so wild that two weeks prior I could not stay asleep. Most days I only got four hours of rest, even throughout my finals and leading up to the big day."

Growing up, life itself was challenging for Allen. The only child for Wayne and Sherrell Allen, Sherwayne was born into humble circumstances in Kingston where he spent the first six years of his life. He revealed that those early years were not easy for him or his family.

“Well, life for me growing up in Richmond Park was a challenge. Some days were worse than others, whether it was the occasional gunshots that would echo or the financial constraints of my parents which motivated me to want better for myself,” he said.

“I am the only child for both my parents. As far I can remember, initially, my dad was working at the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) in Spanish Town before being laid off, while my mom went to school for fashion designing at Garmex in downtown Kingston.”

His parents eventually separated and he and his mother moved to Spanish Town, St. Catherine as she sought a better life for herself and her then six-year-old son.

“I moved to Angels (Estates) because my parents were having problems and my mom wanting a better life for us as a family. However, my dad did not come with us,” he recalled.

It was while living in Spanish Town he discovered his passion for engineering.

“I always had an interest in creating traps, trying to catch rodents in my backyard which was always unsuccessful,” he recalled. “However, this sparked my enthusiasm for the field of engineering primarily civil engineering.”

While attending Angels Primary School, Sherwayne developed a liking for sports, specifically football and athletics but it was not until he attended Kingston College, that he found his niche in track and field as well as a lasting friendship with 200/400m standout Akeem Bloomfield.

“Kingston College was one of the best decisions of my life. Due to the ‘all-roundedness’ of the institution, I was exposed to the different lifestyles of my brothers from different parts of Jamaica. While at KC, I started my career in the 800m before transitioning to the 400m hurdles as I thought it would be easier in obtaining a scholarship to study abroad,” he said.

“My friendship with Akeem started from fifth form while we both doing the sciences and track and field at the same time. I remember that year after we both started the season well, closer to the end we got injured. I got injured before Champs while he got injured during Champs and missing an opportunity to make a Jamaica team,” he recalled.

“We then both attended the same extra math class. Coincidentally, we found out we lived in the same neighbourhood.”

Bloomfield, he revealed, influenced his decision to attend Auburn where the bond of friendship became even stronger.

Never an outstanding athlete at KC, Sherwayne did his best to contribute to the school’s pursuit of the coveted Mortimer Geddes trophy, the symbol of high school athletic supremacy at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships. Between 2012 and 2016, he earned valuable points for the school even as he missed out on medals in the 800m and 400m hurdles.

His performances, though, were good enough to win him a scholarship to Auburn University where while still being a middling performer in the 400m hurdles, he rubbed shoulders with World Championships gold medalists Jonielle Smith and Natalliah Whyte and also forged a new friendship with NCAA 400m medalist and World Championship finalist Nathon Allen. He also strengthened the bonds of a friendship that began at KC with Bloomfield.

But leaving Jamaica to attend school in Alabama, proved to be quite a challenge for Sherwayne, who lifted the lid on what life can be like as a student-athlete in a foreign land.

“The transition from Kingston to Auburn for me was a big culture shock as being from Jamaica to  Alabama was an experience. I oftentimes found it boring, accompanied by the fact that 90 per cent of people there were of different ethnicity, had a different culture, and as such had different ways of doing and saying stuff than what I was accustomed to,” he said.

“I always had to make sure my English was clear and slow while communicating which initially was quite annoying.”

There were other more significant challenges as well.

“I initially ventured off to Auburn to become a civil engineer. However, because of my lack of self-discipline at the time, I lost focus. Because of scholarship requirements, I could not retake the class I had failed and had to switch my major. The school wanted me to do Exercise Science or another "easy" major as it would have been easier for me to pass and compete at the same time,” he said.

“However, I had no intentions of doing that. I found Mathematics as a way of staying close to my dream at the time of becoming an engineer.”

He continued: “Life for me being a student-athlete was rough, especially for me doing such a demanding major. I remember day-after-day full of classes. I would have a workout where I was literally on the verge of seeing the face of God!

“I would then have to take my dead legs up to get dinner really quick and head to tutoring. I would be there from 7 to 10, four days a week for the whole semester. The challenges that came with that for me personally was seeing other student-athletes partying, spending little to no time in tutoring and just living their best life. Also being an athlete we had all these responsibilities, such as going to meetings and early morning drug tests while still having to be a student and maintain the grades in classes so that we can compete.”

However, it was not all bad. Having his fellow Jamaicans close by provided some measure of relief to the grind of life as a student-athlete.

“Sharing a dorm with Nathon was good. I didn't know him prior, other than seeing him run and competing against Akeem. However, he was very humble and quiet. We all built a brotherhood and camaraderie, especially seeing that we all came at the same time and being Jamaicans,” he said.

“I have fond memories of when we were all together always making jokes, cooking and playing games together.”

With graduation, Sherwayne has also chosen to close another chapter of his life as a student-athlete.

 “My athletic career is done. I will take pride in watching Akeem, Nathon, Natalliah, Raheem, Jonielle and my other pro friends compete,” he said. 

Changing a few ‘little things’ and a shift in mindset paid off in a big way for Joella Lloyd when she set a new national record in the 100m at the Tennessee Challenge at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday.

Her time of 11.19 not only broke Heather Samuels Daley’s Antiguan record of 11.20 set in May 1993 it is also the World U-20 leading time for 2021, bumping the USA’s Tionna Brown’s 11.29 from the top spot. Lloyd said she was astonished when she saw the time given how poorly her outdoor season had started with times of 11.52 and 12.05 in her two previous races.

“I was surprised when I looked at the clock and I saw 11.19 because earlier in the season I did not transition as well as I wanted to from the indoor season,” she said.

“I was working with my coach (Ken Harnden), we were talking and he was telling me to do the little things like eating well, sleeping on time and having a better mindset at practice and ever since I implemented that, in practice, I didn’t feel as fatigued and I felt like I was getting back into the right mindset of being competitive and pushing to the line.

“Though my start wasn’t too good, my transition was good and I fought to the line.”

Lloyd's Tennessee teammate Maia McKoy, a senior, was second in 11.23 while Louisville's Brooke Raglin was third in 11.68.

The Tennessee freshman said it was special that she was able to break the record that was previously held by the woman who was her hero growing up.

“It’s really amazing having the national record now knowing that I made history for Antigua,” she said.

“I knew the old record holder Heather Samuel Daley and I have always held her in high esteem and wanted to be like her when I was growing up. Knowing that I am here, I’ve made it, it’s a relief and I feel like this will propel me through the rest of the season. I will drive off of this and keep getting faster.”

It has been a record-breaking season for Lloyd, who turned 19 on April 12.  Lloyd, the 2021 SEC 60m Indoor champion, set a new national indoor record of 7.15 for the 60m and 23.62 for the 200m.

 

Jamaica’s Olympic hopefuls Charokee Young and Chrisann Gordon-Powell won their respective 400m races in contrasting fashion at the 2021 LSU Alumni Gold meet at the Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday.

Mark Elliott, the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Clemson said there is an all-around excitement in response to the news that the university will no longer discontinue its men’s track and cross country programme.

Focus on details helped Kemba Nelson run a personal best 100m time and a decent 200m at last weekend’s West Coast Classic in Tucson.

Nelson, a junior at the University of Oregon, clocked 11.18 to win the 100m well clear of teammate Jasmine Reed who stopped the clock at 11:48. California’s Ezzine Abba ran 11.52 for third.

An hour later, Nelson would finish second in the 200m, beaten by UCLA’s Shae Anderson who clocked 22.96 for the win. Nelson ran a creditable 23.03, sandwiched by Anderson’s teammate Makenzy Pierre-Webster, who clocked 23.51.

Nelson expressed her satisfaction afterwards.

“I am happy with races! Big PR for me. Great opener as well,” said the former UTech sprinter, whose previous best was 11.49 in Kingston in June 2019.

“In the 100, I was more focused on execution. Staying patient with the drive phase and not rushing the race.”

She wasn’t too perturbed by her 200m loss seeing that her time was also a personal best.

“Though it was an hour after the 100 it was a good race too. I definitely have a lot to work on. But it’s a part of the sport. You win some, you lose some. Just have to get back to work.”

Nelson is having an outstanding first year on the US Collegiate circuit. In March she was the NCAA 60m Indoor title in a personal best 7.05s, a time that made her the fifth-fastest Jamaican woman indoors behind Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Jamaica hurdler Damion Thomas believes he is finally firmly back on the right track after several recent seasons where he was plagued by injuries and indifferent form.

The 21-year-old Louisiana State University student registered his first NCAA title this past indoor season and last month continued that form with brilliant hurdling, which saw him clock a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) at the Texas Relays.

The efforts mark a comeback of sorts for Thomas who tied the U20 world record in the 110-meter hurdles, after running 12.99 over the 39-inch height at the 2018 Jamaican Junior Championships. He then followed up the record-breaking moment by winning gold at the World U20 Championships.

A quadriceps injury during the 2019 season, however, hampered the hurdler's efforts to build on a promising start to his collegiate career and, of course, in 2020, the global pandemic saw sports grind to a halt for several months.

 "I'd say last year's coronavirus [pandemic] shutting down the season was probably more heartbreaking than my sophomore year and the injuries," Thomas said in an interview with Milesplit USA.

"I felt healthy, training was going so well into the meet and then they shut it down for everybody. Right after that meeting, I remember all of us just going to one room and we literally were staring out the window. 'Like dang this is crazy.'"

 The athlete, however, managed to use the quarantine period to his advantage, putting work into honing his technique.  He has emerged from the hiatus as strong and sharp as ever and is so far a big favourite to secure a spot on the Jamaica Olympic squad later this year.

"It feels good to know that I'm on the right path," Thomas said of his resurgence.

“I think the big thing now is ... not to be complacent and continue to look at the flaws in my race to see where I can get better. I want to stay hungry and continue to feel like an underdog. Even though I'm world-leading, that doesn't mean anything going forward."

 

Slightly disappointed over her times on the weekend, Kiara Grant believes there is no reason why she should not break 11 seconds this season as she plans to fight through a competitive field to make Jamaica’s team to the Olympics this summer.

Based on how well she has been training, “there is no reason why I shouldn’t break 11 seconds,” she said.

The 20-year-old Grant, a junior at Norfolk State University, ran 11.29 for second place in the 100m and 23.25 to win the 200m at the Gamecock Invitational at Gregger Park on Saturday.

“This was my opener. I could have been better but they’re okay times for an opener,” she said, “so I know what I need to fix in practice. It’s to see how I can lower my times before regionals asap.”

She has about two weeks to those regionals and she believes that is more than enough time to get the required work in. “I have two meets to get those times down. I am a lot stronger and I have been putting the background work, so with the right competition I can get my times down,” she said confidently.

Grant, who has a personal best of 11.04, said she was expecting to run 11.1 or 11.0x on Saturday and around 22.9, said running her intent to go faster is not just for regionals but for the much bigger event this summer.

“That’s the biggest goal right now. I am up for the Olympics. It doesn’t get better than that. That’s why I am working on getting my times down,” she said.

“Sha’ Carri Richardson ran 10.7, we have to do something over these next two weeks. We have to apply some kind of pressure,” she declared.

 

 

Jamaica’s Kemba Nelson has designs on being in Tokyo for the Olympic Games this summer and based on what she has done so far at the University of Oregon she believes she has a good shot at it.

The Jamaica-born duo of Stacey-Ann Williams and Charokee Young finished first and second for their respective universities in the women’s 400m at the Texas vs Texas A&M Dual track meet on Saturday.

Williams, the former ST Elizabeth Technical athlete, now competing for Texas, crossed the line first in a time of 51.24, comfortably ahead of Young who finished in 51.52 for Texas A&M.  Syaira Richardson, also of Texas A&M was third in 52.17.

In the women’s 100m, former Edwin Allen star Kevona Davis clocked 11.35 but had to settle for second place behind Texas teammate Kynnedy Flannel who took the top spot in 11.23.  Texas A&M’s Kaylah Robinson was third in 11.69.

At the same event, O’Brien Wasome, formerly of Jamaica College, took the top spot in the men’s triple jump.  Competing for Texas, Wasome recorded a distance of 15.83m, comfortably ahead of CJ Stevenson who was second with 15.19, and teammate Stacy Brown Jr who was third with 14.65m.

In the women’s high jump, the day belonged to Trinidad and Tobago jumper Tyra Gittens who leapt 1.90m to claim the top spot for Texas A&M.  Texas’ Marlene Guerrero was second with 1.73 and her teammate Trinity Tomlinson third with the same height.

Damion Thomas and Sparkle McKnight were winners on Saturday’s final day of the 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays held at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Janeek Brown, the 2019 NCAA 100m hurdles champion, has joined MVP International at the Florida base camp, the club announced today.

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