T&T sprinter Leah Bertrand of Ohio State University blazed into the quarterfinal round of the women’s 100 metres of the East Regionals of the US Collegiate (NCAA) Division One (D1) Outdoor Championships in Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday evening.
Bertrand of local club Simplex, sped across the line in 11.08 seconds to win the sixth and final heat in the first round. The timing matched the personal best (pb), she set in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Conference Championships in Bloomington, Indiana on May 13.
The 2021 World Under-20 Championships semifinalist was the fifth-fastest in the first round. She remains fifth on the T&T’s women’s 100m all-time list along with Fana Ashby (11.08). National record holder Michelle-Lee Ahye (10.82), Kelly-Ann Baptiste (10.84), Khalifa St Fort (11.06) and Semoy Hackett (11.07) are the only local women's sprinters to have gone quicker than Bertrand.
Alabama's Cherisse Murray (Toco TAFAC) booked her ticket to the NCAA Finals when she was 10th in the women’s shot put first round. The 2010 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) girls U-17 champion had a best throw of 16.67m which was sufficient to finish among the top 12 to ensure a place at the NCAA Finals in Austin, Texas from June 7-10.
At the West Regionals in Sacramento, California, Minnesota's Akilah Lewis (Concorde) booked a lane in the 100m quarterfinals after finishing third in heat four in 11.49. Lewis was 22nd fastest overall. The top 24 advanced to the quarterfinals. The five-time Carifta medallist set a personal best of 11.28 in finishing fourth at the Big Ten Championships, to move up to 16th on the T&T all-time list.
The women’s 100m quarterfinals in the East and West Regionals are set for Saturday (May, 27).
On Friday, several T&T athletes were listed to compete. At the East Regionals, Jaden James (Fatima)of Louisiana State University (LSU) is scheduled to line up in the round one of the men’s discus. The 2021 Carifta Boys U-20 discus bronze medallist will be seeking to finish among the top 12 to qualify for the NCAA Finals. His LSU schoolmate Shakeem McKay is expected to compete in the men’s 4x400m relay. The top 12 teams will book a spot at the NCAA Finals.
At the West Regionals, Minnesota’s Kion Benjamin (Memphis Pioneers), Devin Augustine of Point Fortin New Jets (PFNJ), Carlon Hosten (Abilene Wildcats) will have a busy day.
Benjamin, Augustine and Hosten are set to contest the men’s 100m quarterfinals. Augustine and Hosten will return to the track for the 200m quarterfinals. Benjamin was third-fastest (10.20) in the 100m first round on May 24 while Hosten and Augustine were 17th and 18th fastest both with 10.36 clockings.
In the 200m first round, Augustine was fourth-best as the 2019 Carifta Boys U-17 100m gold medallist crossed the line in a new personal best of 20.44. Hosten was 11th-fastest in 20.59.
The trio will also be in the line-up for Minnesota in the first round of the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. The Minnesota 4x100m team could feature an all T&T quartet as Jaydon Antoine (Neon Wolves) is on the relay squad.
Another T&T athlete Kashief King of PFNJ is leading Illinois in the men’s 4x00m. King won gold for T&T at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the men’s 4x400m.
The NCAA East and West Regionals end on Saturday.