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Warren leads T&T athletes for NCAA championships
A number of T&T track and field athletes have qualified to compete at the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships scheduled for June 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Thanks to their outstanding performances at their respective NCAA East and West Preliminaries which unfolded over the weekend at two sites including in Tampa, Florida and Sacramento, California.
The East and West regions are comprised of all Division I institutions in 25 states apiece for each of the two regions. Twelve performers from each preliminary site advance to the NCAA Championships – hosted for the sixth straight year at Oregon's Hayward Field.
Much of them emerged from the East Prelims like University of Alabama (UA) duo Ruebin Walters and Portious Warren.
Walters stormed through the qualification held at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa, becoming the first qualifier for the UA men on Saturday. The senior cruised to the fastest time in the quarterfinals of the men's 110-metre hurdles, crossing the line in 13.55 seconds to qualify.
Warren advanced in two events, placing fifth in the shot put with a best throw of 16.98m and also the discus with the UA junior tossing the object 53.68m to place seventh.
Coppin State's Aaron Lewis also qualified to race in the men's 110m hurdles. The sophomore from Scarborough took fourth in his heat in 13.83 but ran the eighth fastest time to advance to Nationals. Lewis' mark was the fastest of non-automatic qualifiers on the day.
University of Kentucky freshman Dwight St Hillaire was another local athlete moving on to the main event. He was the fastest 400m qualifier and he did it in style. The Southeastern Conference bronze medallist smashed the personal best he set just two weeks ago by half a second. He broke 45 seconds for the first time, running 44.55 to move to No 19 on the collegiate all-time list and lower his school record.
St Hillaire was quoted on his school's saying: "From the beginning (of the season) qualifying for NCAAs was the plan. To finally achieve it, it's only good things from here. Just keep training and follow the plan."
He was also part of the UK men's 4x100m relay unit that ran well out of lane one, finishing with a qualifying time of 39.36, which was .01 off his team's season best. They took the third automatic qualifying place from heat two with the 10th fastest time overall.
The UK women's 4x100m relay team, which includes T&T's Kayelle Clarke qualified to continue its NCAA title defence in Eugene winning heat one from lane one in 42.49. They ran 42.30 at the Southeastern Conference Championships two weeks ago to take silver. T&T's Zakiya Denoon Louisiana State University (LSU) was the top qualifier in 42.42. The sprinter did not race in that event but she did help her 4x400m team reach Eugene with an eighth-place in a time of 3:33.68.
Clarke's UK women's 4x400m relay team, for the first time this year, won heat three to advance automatically. Their time of 3:31.70 was No 2 out of the East Prelims.
Clarke also qualified to compete in the 200m after a 23.04-clocking for the 11th fastest time. Denoon did not as her time of 23.34 placed her 14th overall. Neither did she progress in the 100m dash as the junior was 14th in 11.25w (2.8).
She and a few others did not advance in their individual events including her schoolmate sophomore Akanni Hislop, who placed 19th in the men's 200m with 20.74 (0.1). However, he will travel as part of 4x100 as he helped the LSU team to fifth place in 39.16.
Over at the West Prelims, Tyra Gittens of Texas A&M advanced to compete in the women's long jump with a 6.02 metres leap for 10th spot, but not the high jump after placing 18th with a best effort of 1.75m.
The freshman though will be among the challengers, who will compete in the Heptathlon for the first time at the finals.
University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) senior Asa Guevara was hoping to race against St Hillaire in the 400m but did not advance after his 14th place finish in 46.37.
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