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Shukla and Johnson take National Cross Country crowns

Friday, December 5, 2014
Reigning World 400m hurdles champion Jehue Gordon, centre, with women’s champion Samantha Shukla and men's winner Kelvin Johnson at the 2014 T&T National Cross-Country Championships at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on November 30.

Samantha Shukla and Kelvin Johnson took the women’s and men’s titles at the 2014 T&T NGC/NAAA National Cross Country Championships at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain on November 30. 

Shukla copped the women’s 6k event in 24 minutes 56 seconds (24:56) in wet and muddy conditions ahead of the Memphis Pioneers duo of Dawnel Collymore (25:42) and Alena Brooks (26:08).

The former South East Port-of-Spain/St Joseph Convent student took the lead in the first of the three lap race and maintained her advantage to the end to relegate Collymore to second place for another year. 

The 2007 Carifta girls under 17 1500m bronze medallist graduated from the University of Wichita, Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

Collymore copped won Carifta bronze medals in 2010 (Girls under 20 1500m) and 2011 (Girls under 20 800) while Brooks was a semifinalist in the women’s 800m at the 2010 World Juniors and represented T&T at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July. 

Brooks is also a four time Carifta medallist earning silver in the girls under 20 800m and 4x400m in 2010 and bronze in the 400m and 800m in 2009. The Diego Martin Secondary all round student recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Kinesiology.

Commanding winner

Johnson was a commanding winner in the race for the men’s 8K four lap crown getting to the line in 28:43 ahead of George Smith (T&T Defence Force) 29:21 and Sherwin Stapleton 29:28.

The Aranguez-based Guyanese runner sped to the front of the pack in the first lap and extended his lead despite competing bare-footed. Veteran Kade Sobers tried to keep with Johnson’s early pace running in second place in the early stages of the race but fell back eventually finished fourth. 

Reigning World 400m hurdles champion Jehue Gordon also competed, using the race as part of his off season training for the 2015 track and field season. Last year’s champions Janelle Nedd and Kendis Bullard did not compete.

Looking forward

Shukla said she was happy with her performance. “It was a good run even though the race conditions were terrible,” she said.. “ would say my performance was a strong one. This is the first time competing in a cross country race since I left Wichita State. 

Shukla was grateful for the victory. “I want to thank God for being able to win as I was not feeling this morning.” The Beetham resident is now looking forward to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2015 NACAC Cross Country Championships in Colombia in February. Meanwhile Johnson said he stuck to his race strategy of taking a early lead of the race. He added that he trained in similar wet and muddy conditions at Aranguez.

Reigning World 400m hurdles champion Jehue Gordon competed in the men’s 8k and said he was pleased with his effort. 

“Today was just to work on the conditioning aspect of training. It was a solid run overall. It was about working on endurance to help my race. This year, (for the first time), I competed in two development (cross country) meets before this championships.”

Iley Bruce (Dovers) copped the Men under 20 6K (22:03) ahead of Joshua James (Cougars) 22:23 and Atiba Samuel (Petrotrin Palo Seco) 22:31. Donicia Antoine (Toco Titans) secured the Junior women’s 4K in 17:08 ahead of Elia Nero (Unattached) 17:43 and her Toco club-mate Mikayla Ottley, 17:45.

Great participation

Jaden St. Louis (Cougars) took the Boys under 16 2K (6:47) while Jordan Cooper (Petrotrin Palo Seco) 7:23 and Caliyah Wallace (Cougars) 8:31 were the winners of the boys and girls under 14 2K respectively. The boys and girls Under 10 One lap titles went to Jahfa Woodley (Memphis Pioneers) and Xea Bruxe (Toco Titans).

NAAA president Ephraime Serrette said more athletes have been competing in the cross country championships. “Over the years we have seen great participation. This year we introduced a one lap race for the under ten (age group). We are seeing some of our track athletes using the meet for endurance preparation for the 2015 track season.” 

Serrette also explained that relays were introduced in the cross country developments meets in October and November. 

“We found that fewer athletes were coming out to come so we decided to try a new strategy and encourage the relays and I think it worked well as a lot more clubs participated.” 

He also lamented the poor media coverage of the event. “It is also a challenge. Whether we sent out information or not, the high profile events the media will be interested in, maybe like the NACAC championships. But yes, we need to promote it and see how we can get the media involved.” 

Serrette admitted after that no invitations were sent to the media.




Under 10 One lap:
Boys: 1st Jahfa Woodley (Memphis Pioneers) 2:33, 2nd Tyreese James (Silver Bullets) 2:33, 3rd Jorvan Westfield (Cougars) 2:42

Girls: 1st Xea Bruce (Toco Titans) 2:29, 2nd Anna Marie Solazano (Silver Bullets) 2:40, 3rd Vanessa Stephens (Silver Bullets) 2:43

U 14
Boys: Jordan Cooper (Petrotrin P/Seco) 7:23, 2nd Asim Atherton (Cougars) 7:24, 3rd Christino Armstrong (Silver Bullets) 7:35
Girls: 1st Caliyah Wallace (Cougars) 8:31, 2nd Camille Lewis (Sangre Grande Sec) 8:35, 3rd Safiya John (Zenith) 8:36

U 16
Boys: 1st Jaden St. Louis (Cougars) 6:47, 2nd Jalen Bristol (Petrotrin P/Seco( 6:52, 3rd Jadiel Walters (Zenith) 6:59
Girls: 1st Rae-Ann Serville (Memphis) 7:45, 2nd Kershel McIntyre (Cougars) 7:48, 3rd Joanna Rogers (Cougars) 7:53

Girls: 1st Blossom Swift (Cougars) 8:05, 2nd Akina Wilson (Cougars) 8:19, 3rd Silinni Acosta  (Zenith) 8:42.

Team: 1st Petrotrin P/Seco, 2nd Cougars, 3rd Silver Bulletts

Top three male: from left third place Sherwin Stapleton, winner Kelvin Johnson and second place George Smith
Top three male: from left third place Sherwin Stapleton, winner Kelvin Johnson and second place George Smith

Girls: 1st Donicia Antoine (Toco Titans) 17:08, 2nd Mikayla Ottley (Toco Titans) 17:45, 3rd Keijanel Sonjui (Sangre Grande Sec) 19:05

Girls: 1st Elia Nero (Unattached) 17:43, 2nd Antonia Atalla (Cougars) 21:59, 3rd Nyasha Waterman (Oasics) 22:36,

Girls: 1st Toco Titans, 2nd Sangre Grande Sec

Under 18
Boys: 1st Joshua James (Cougars) 22:23, 2nd Atiba Samuel (Petrotrin P/Seco) 22:31, 3rd Driston Yahkarkin (Petrotrin P/Seco)

Under 20
Boys: 1st Iley Bruce (Dovers) 22:03, 2nd Ashton Gill (Cougars) 23:47, 3rd Kyle Stanley (UTT) 25:47

U18/U20: 1st Petrotrin P/Seco, 2nd Cougars, 3rd Sangre Grande Sec

Overall: 1st Samantha Shukla (Unattached) 24:56, 2nd Dawnel Collymore (Memphis Pioneers) 25:42, 3rd Alena Brooks (Memphis Pioneers) 26:08

20-29: 1st April Francis (Abilene Wildcats) 28:41, 2nd Sade Andrews (UTT) 39:43, 3rd Kechell Douglas (UTT) 39:44

30-39: 1st Debra Agong (TTRC) 33;50, 2nd Alvinelle Matthews (TTRC) 47:42, 3rd Natasha Edwards (Memphis Pioneers) 53:19,

40-49: 1st Gillian Cupidore (TTRC) 39:58, 2nd Wendy Shallow (TTRC) 32:18

50+: 1st Susannah Joefield (TTRC) 43:15, 2nd Joy Ryan (TTRC) 44:25, 3rd Edelacun Harrington (Unattached) 53:32

Open: 1st Kelvin Johnson (TTRC) 28:43, 2nd George Smith (TT Defence Force) 29:21, 3rd Sherwin Stapleton (Unattached) 29:28

20-29: 1st Quincy Elliot (TT Defence Force) 30:10, 2nd Shaquille Joseph (Unattached) 30:38, 3rd Shayne Barran (Unattached0 31:07

30-39: 1st Colin Brumant (Striders) 36:57, 2nd Dirk Boyce (TTRC) 37:41, 3rd Kingsley (Benjamin (TTRC) 38:02

40-49: 1st Kade Sobers (Falcons) 30:04, 2nd Nigel Simon (Memphis Pioneers) 37:19,

50-59: 1st Curtis Brereton (Hamptons) 36:34, 2nd Owen Sobers (Falcons) 37:29, 3rd Lander Rodney (TTRC) 42:39

60+: 1st Clyde Loobie (TTRC) 39:51, 2nd Richard Puckerin (Unattached) 39:59, 3rd Janice Quashie (Unattached) 41:443

Team: 1st T&T Defence Force, 2nd Memphis, 3rd TTRC


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