The 2018 CARIFTA Trials for The Bahamas are two weekends away, and already a number of match-ups are brewing.

All season long, a pair of teammates at St. Augustine’s College (SAC) and Star Trackers, have battled in both the under-17 girls 100 meters (m) and the 100m hurdles. Reference is to Jaida Knowles and Anthaya Charlton.

Both qualified for the Flow CARIFTA Games Bahamas 2018 at the McKenley-Wint Track and Field Classic in Kingston, Jamaica, early in the season.

Knowles has a personal best time of 11.89 seconds in the 100m, and Charlton, at just 14-years-old, has done 12.03 seconds. At the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Championships, they ran times of 11.69 and 11.74, but the wind reading was just barely over the allowable wind limit. The CARIFTA qualifying times in the 100m and 100m hurdles are 12.06 and 14.64 seconds respectively.

Knowles and Charlton will likely go head-to-head in both the 100m and 100m hurdles at the trials with both added to 400m and 1600m relays.  Charlton could compete in the long and triple jump events as well.  They are just two of the upcoming stars in Bahamian athletics.

The under-17 girls 400m could provide a treat as well. Megan Moss is the CARIFTA champion from the under-18 division a year ago. She is looking to duplicate the feat in the under-17 division this year, and also go after Shaunae Miller’s CARIFTA record. Moss has a personal best time of 53.69 seconds and Miller’s CARIFTA record is 53.36 seconds.  Moss has also qualified in the 400m.  The standard is 57 seconds flat.

One of the young ladies who have rose to the forefront this year is St. Anne’s Jasmine Knowles. She has already qualified for CARIFTA in both the 400m and 800m.

Knowles gave Moss quite a run at the BAISS Championships, as they finished first and second in times of 55.62 and 56.38 respectively. At the CARIFTA Trials, Knowles will be looking to pull off an upset over Moss in the 400m while the latter will be looking to continue her dominance in that event.

The under-20 girls 100m could provide thrills and chills. Sasha Wells is expected home from college for the CARIFTA Trials, and local high school athletes Devine Parker and Lakelle Kinteh will provide a challenge. The three have not yet met in a race this season. In fact, any two of the three have not run against each other as yet this season.

Kinteh has consistently been under 12 seconds this season, even though a number of her races have been wind-aided, and Parker and Wells have personal best times of 11.51 and 11.89 seconds respectively. All three were on the CARIFTA team a year ago – Parker in the short sprints, Wells in the 100m and 100m hurdles, and Kinteh in the long jump.

Their 100m battle could be one of the marquee races at the CARIFTA Trials as all three are expected to push one another. The qualifying time for CARIFTA is 11.80 seconds.

In the throws in the under-20 girls division, Tiffany Hanna and Acacia Astwood should provide intense battles. Hanna has qualified for CARIFTA in the under-20 girls shot put, and Astwood has met the mark in the under-20 girls discus. They could both compete in both events at the trials.

In the shot put, Hanna has a personal best throw of 13.33m (43’ 8-3/4”) that was done at the Penn 8-Team Select on Staten Island, New York, earlier this season. The qualifying mark for CARIFTA is 13m flat (42’ 7-3/4”). Astwood has a massive personal best distance of 45.27m (148’ 6”) in the discus this year. The qualifying mark is 41m flat (134’ 6”).

Both are former CARIFTA Games medalists – Hanna in the under-18 girls discus in 2016 and Astwood in the under-18 girls discus a year later.

The sprint events that this writer is looking forward to the most at the CARIFTA Trials are the under-20 boys 100 and 200m. Adrian Curry, Joel Johnson and Denvaughn Whymns are the marquee names in those events event. Quite frankly, on a good day with favorable winds, all three could go under 10.50 seconds in the century and 21 seconds in the 200m.

Curry has the fastest time of the trio in the 100m, having run 10.50 seconds at the BAISS Track and Field Championships in February. Johnson has the fastest lifetime best of the three in the 200m at 21.38 seconds. The qualifying times are 10.60 seconds and 21.45 seconds respectively.

Any of the three have the ability to beat any of the other two on any given day, and all three have major international experience. They all competed for The Bahamas at CARIFTA, the Commonwealth Youth Games and the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World U18 Championships last year. Johnson was even an alternate for The Bahamas’ men’s 4x100m relay team at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in London, England.

However it pans out, The Bahamas’ sprint relay team in the under-20 boys division at CARIFTA should be significantly strengthened with the inclusion of those three young athletes.

Whymns is an all-around young star. There is little he can’t do. He won the gold medal in the under-18 boys long jump at CARIFTA last year, and is a semi-finalist in the 110m hurdles from last year’s IAAF World U18 Championships. He also won the bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games.

In that event at the CARIFTA Trials two weekends from now, a trio of athletes could pose a significant threat to Whymns dominance – Oscar Smith, Alexander Storr and Jahmaal Wilson. In fact, Smith and Wilson have already beaten Whymns this year.

Wilson ran 14.41 seconds at the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Championships compared to 14.44 for Whymns, and Smith won the 110m hurdles at the Star Trackers Star Performers Track and Field Classic in 14.17 seconds while Whymns was a disappointing third.

Whymns will be out for revenge at the CARIFTA Trials, and Smith, Storr and Wilson will be looking to make the CARIFTA team as well. Of the quartet, Whymns is the only one to have a lifetime best of under 14 seconds in the 110m hurdles, but the others are close to cracking that barrier. The qualifying time for CARIFTA is 14 seconds flat.

The under-20 boys high jump should also feature a quartet of contenders. Kyle Alcine, Jyles Etienne, Shaun Miller Jr. and Benjamin Clarke all have an ability to soar over two meters (6’ 6-3/4”) at the trials and qualify for this year’s CARIFTA team.

Alcine and Etienne are the silver and bronze medalists in the under-20 boys division from last year’s CARIFTA Games and Miller won the gold in the under-18 boys division.

Miller also finished fifth in the high jump at last year’s IAAF World U18 Championships. However, Clarke has out-performed him this season, and Alcine and Etienne are just starting their 2018 outdoor campaigns. All four athletes have leapt well over two meters in their short careers, but it might take a mark of around 2.16m (7’ 1”) just to make the team.

Just Alcine and Etienne have reached that mark out of the quartet, but all four could very well push each other to reach new heights at the trials. The qualifying mark in the under-20 boys high jump is 2.08m (6’ 10”).

Another event to look forward to at the CARIFTA Trials is the under-20 boys javelin. Sean Rolle and Michaelangelo Bullard both exploded on the scene in this event last year, and both are primed to continue their progression this year.

Rolle and Bullard were second and third at CARIFTA last year in the under-18 boys division, turning in personal best throws of 65.51m (214’ 11”) and 63.84m (209’ 5”) respectively. Only Trinidad & Tobago’s Tyriq Hosford was better than them at CARIFTA last year, tossing the javelin a record distance of 76.50m (251’).

This year, Rolle and Bullard have been back and forth in the javelin, but few would argue that they are the two best Bahamian junior athletes in that event right now. However, both are yet to surpass the CARIFTA qualifying distance of 60m flat (196’ 10”) so far this season. They are close to that mark, and could very qualify at the CARIFTA Trials when they go head-to-head again.  At the BAISS Championships, Bullard had a winning throw of 56.55m (185’ 6”), and Rolle was second with a throw of 55.21m (181’ 1”).

These are just some of the match-ups to look out for at the 2018 CARIFTA Trials for The Bahamas, set for March 16 and 17 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. There will undoubtedly be some spectacular performances as Bahamian youngsters from all over the country, from local high schools and those from high schools and colleges abroad, look to make The Bahamas’ team that will represent the country at home at the  Flow CARIFTA Games Bahamas 2018.

Photo CAPTION: Shaun Miller, brother of Austin Sealey winner Shaunae Miller, is just one of the four top competitors vying for the two spots in the under 20 boys high jump at this year’s Flow CARIFTA Games Bahamas 2018.


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