MIRAMAR — The future of track and field was on display last weekend as athletes from throughout the Americas converged on the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar for the NACAC under 23 Championships.
The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association represents 32 member nations, but all eyes were focused on the match-ups between athletes from the United States and Jamaica on July 9, 10 and 11.
Jeneba Tarmoh brought home a gold medal for team USA with a time of 11.51 in the 100-meter dash. LSU teammates Samantha Henry of Jamaica and Kenyanna Wilson of team USA finished second and third, respectively.
The two sprint powerhouses would square off again in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Tarmoh and Wilson led the relay team to gold with a meet record time of 43.07 seconds.
“We just wanted to run each leg really fast and relax. We knew if we passed the baton smoothly we would be in a position to bring home the gold,” Wilson said.
“We take a lot of satisfaction from this win, but not because of who we beat, more because we worked together,” Tarmoh added.
Samuel Effah of Canada was first to the tape in the men’s 100-meter dash with a time of 10.35 seconds. Oshane Baily of Jamaica finished second in 10.47 seconds. Maurice Mitchell of the USA finished third in 10.45.
The U.S. men matched the effort of the women by winning gold in the 4 x 100 meter relay. The team, consisting of Fred Rose, Maurice Mitchell, Brandon Byram and Curtis Mitchell set a meet record with a 38.96 second finish. Jamaica also broke the previous meet record with a second place finish of 39.36 seconds.
“This was a good way to start off our first real day of competition. We didn’t really get a chance to practice. Whenever you make a USA team, you don’t really get much practice for the relays,” Curtis Mitchell said. “We basically had two days to get four fast guys together. So we are real happy to come out here and run like we did.”
Mitchell had the meet of his life, running under 20 seconds in the 200 meters, and winning two gold medals. The USA teams dominated the 200. Mitchell and Byram finished one and two in the 200-meter final. Tiffany Townsend and Candyce McGrone finished first and third in the women’s final.
Mitchell’s 19.99 in the 200 meter semifinals places him among the elite sprinters in the world. The 20-second time barrier is used as a barometer to separate world-class sprinters from the rest of the field.
After his time was announced, Mitchell fell to the track, then sought out his mother in celebration.
“This was big for me today. It lets me and everyone else know that I’m working hard and getting closer to my goals,” Mitchell said.
Other notable medal winners included Tavaris Tate and Joey Hughes, who won gold and silver, respectively, in the 400 meters, Taylor Christian and Chris Phipps also won gold and silver in the long jump, and Kiani Profit and Dorcas Akinniyi won gold and silver in the women’s long jump. Team USA also won gold in both the men’s and women’s 4 x 400 meter relays.