Texas A&M’s Lamara Distin, fresh from her silver medal performance in the high jump at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships, is targeting the Olympic standard of 1.96m when she competes at the Jamaica National Championships beginning June 26.

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.

Track and Field News on Sunday named Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens Collegiate Athlete of the Year.

She is also on the Bowerman Watch List. The Bowerman is an annual track and field award that is the highest accolade given to the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

She believes the accolades are the fruits of hard work.

“Winning Athlete of the Year and staying on the Bowerman Watch List has been rewarding. It’s been a product of hard work and it's exciting, it’s motivating. It makes me want to continue to work hard. I am very honoured, I’m very grateful and I can’t wait to see what I can produce for the rest of the season,” she said.

The Trinidadian multi-event athlete recorded one of the best performances in collegiate history two weeks ago when she won the NCAA championship in the pentathlon and high jump and was third in the long jump to score 26 points.

The 26-point performance is the third-most all-time at an NCAA Championship meet where she also became the first woman to win national championships in the pentathlon and high jump in the same meet.

Gittens also set a collegiate record in the pentathlon with a winning score of 4,746 setting school records in the pentathlon, high jump (1.93m/6-4) and long jump (6.68m/21-11).

She also scored 23 points at the SEC Championships winning the high jump and long jump titles, while finishing sixth in the pentathlon.

She received the Cliff Harper Award for being the top point scorer.

She said self-belief enabled her turnaround from finishing sixth at the SEC Championships to breaking the collegiate pentathlon record two weeks later.

“I was very proud of myself! I trusted myself, I took a chance, and I had confidence in myself,” she said.

“I was not surprised though. Knowing how my training and my season has been going I knew I was going to have a good meet. I’m happy with how I executed everything I wanted to. I’m happy I was in control of my emotions and I’m happy I trusted myself enough to take a chance. It’s a great way to end the indoor season.”

The USTFCCCA also named Gittens National Field Athlete of the Year.

A day after setting a new collegiate record in the pentathlon at the NCAA Nationals, Tyra Gittens won a silver and a bronze medal and set a new school record along the way Friday.

Gittens, who on Thursday, broke Kendall Williams’ five-year-old pentathlon record, cleared 1.90m to win the high jump, becoming the first woman to sweep the pentathlon and the high jump.

The mark was shy of her personal best 1.93m set the day before during the pentathlon, but it was more than enough to hold off South Carolina freshman Rachel Glenn and Georgia’s Anna Hall, who cleared 1.87m second and third, respectively, the latter losing out on the silver medal on the countback.

Two hours later, Gittens, the SEC Female Field Athlete of the Year, went on the hunt for another gold in the long jump but despite uncorking a personal best 6.68m, a new school record, she had to settle for the bronze medal.

Why? Well, Tara Davis of the University of Texas shattered the record of 6.91m that had been held by Jamaica’s Elva Goulbourne since 2002 when she launched out to 6.93m. It was at the championships since Auburn’s Whitney Gipson equalled Golbourne’s mark in 2015.

In addition to being the championship record, the 6.93m was also a meet record and a facility record for Davis.

The silver medal went to Florida’s Claire Bryant who produced her personal best 6.70m.

The bronze medal means that Gittens has earned 26 points for Texas A&M at the nationals, the third-most all-time at an NCAA meet.

Tyra Gittens goes into tomorrow’s SEC Championships in a confident mood seeing how well she has performed indoors this season.

 Charokee Young believes improving her running form and having a better understanding of what she does has led to better performances so far this season.

The 20-year-old rising star also revealed that she has dropped the 800m because of her love for the 400m and that she is definitely aiming to make Jamaica’s Olympic team to Tokyo this summer.

“I think the Olympics are within my reach. I am pretty close to the times (required to qualify) and I am definitely going to try out for the Olympics. Once I am healthy I am definitely going to try to make the Olympic team,” she said.

Just over a week ago, Young, the former Hydel High School standout, split 51.12 that helped Texas A&M an all-time collegiate-best of 3:26.27 at the Tyson Invitational, the ninth-fastest time ever. It was also a season-best time, a meet record and facility record.

It was a performance that saw the team named the U.S. Track & Field National Athlete of the Week.

Young told Sportsmax.TV that they went into the race intent on breaking the record.

“Our aim was to break the record and I did my best,” she said. “I wasn’t focused on how fast I was going to run, was just focused on doing my best for that day.”

Prior to enrolling at Texas A&M, Young had personal bests of 2:06.02 and 52.48 in the 800m and 400m, respectively. In her freshman year, she ran 2:05.80 indoors in March 2020, before the pandemic shut down the collegiate season.

So far this season, she has picked up from where she left off, running ran a personal best 51.93 indoors, which along with the 51.12 relay split last week, has demonstrated her steady improvement.

“I have been working on my running form. My form has gotten much better. I also have more knowledge about what I am doing, I am learning more about my body and I am more mature now,” she said while explaining that she anticipates running even faster as she transitions to outdoors later this year.”

“I am getting better each time I touch the track so if I hit personal bests I will be happy. My health is pretty good and the more correct your form is the less you run the risk of getting hurt.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hydel track coach Corey Bennett has expressed pride in being involved in the development of an ambitious and "hard-working” Charokee Young.

The former Jamaican high-school star was a key member of Texas A&M’s record-breaking 4x400m relay team that set new standards at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas last Saturday.

The 20-year-old Young ran a third-leg split of 51.12 as Texas A&M set an all-time collegiate record of 3:26.27.

The incredible time makes them the fourth-fastest women’s 4x400m relay team and is the ninth-fastest in history.

In addition to being a season-best run, the time broke the meet record of 3:27.94 set by Texas in 2016 as well as the facility record of 3:27.66 set by Texas in 2003.

Texas was more than six-seconds behind in second place with their season-best time of 3:32.64. Florida State University also ran a season-best of 3:34.02 for third.

The team of Young, Athing Mu, the U20 indoor 400m world record holder; Syaira Richardson and Jania Martin, will now go down in history as one of the greatest ever in school history. Only Mu’s split of 50.27 was faster than Young’s as Martin opened with 53.04. Richardson, who handed over to the Jamaican, split 51.86 on the second leg.

“3.26 indoor is such a special run, even outdoors, it’s a great run and to have the second-fastest split of 51.1 on such a special team. It’s really a blessing to see that you had something to do with her development,’ said Bennett.

“She is in an excellent programme at Texas A&M and I am so happy that we actually chose that school for her.”

Bennett believes her experience at Hydel has prepared Young for what she has been accomplishing since she enrolled at Texas A&M.

“She is going well. She is improving every weekend. She was also part of several record-breaking Hydel teams at the Penn Relays so she is used to being on several good 4x400m teams,” he said.

Young has thrived at Texas A&M ever since she arrived there two seasons ago after winning the finals of the 800m at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in Kingston in March 2019.

The then Hydel star clocked 2:06.02 to win gold ahead of the talented duo of Shaquena Foote and Abigail Schaaffe, who were second and third, respectively.

In her first season at A&M, she ran 2:05.80 over 800m indoors. She subsequently dropped down to the 400m and so far this season has run a personal best 51.93 on February 6.

Bennett said while he was disappointed that she has dropped the 800m he sees where it has been beneficial to Young’s development.

“It’s paying off and I am sure that her coaches and her handlers right now are preparing her looking at getting her ready for trials this year. She will do well at trials as long as she remains healthy,” Bennett said while revealing Young’s ultimate ambition.

“Charokee will achieve through hard work and she is not afraid to work hard to achieve what she wants. She wants to make an Olympic team or World Champs team and she will stop at nothing (to achieve her goal).

 

 

 

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