Jamaicans Williams, Kalawan star at US college meets

Thursday, February 21, 2019

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Nineteen-year-old Jamaican Stacey-Ann Williams is becoming one of the new darlings at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), which compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Williams, a past student of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and a freshman at SUNO, ran a personal best (PB) indoor time of 53.02 seconds to win the 400m at the KMS Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama recently.

The PB puts her at the top of the NAIA in the 400m in the one-lap event.

Though the NAIA is considered the fourth-tier college track and field competition in the US, athletes have produced some of the fastest times in the world especially early in the season.

Had Williams competed at the NAIA Indoor Championships in Pittsburgh, Kansas last year she would have been the favourite to win.

Shadae Hylton, a Holmwood Technical past student who left SUNO last year, won that indoor title clocking 53.38 seconds.

Williams, meanwhile, was named track athlete for the week ending January 30, but her coach at SUNO, Younne Reid, who is also Jamaican, has set no expectations for her this season.

“Stacy-Ann understand the process of what needs to be done. She's working on a number of things in training. Once she continues to work on those things she will only get better and better,” Reid pointed out.

He sees no reason to put pressure at this time on Williams who was third in the Class One Girls 400m at Champs 2018, trailing Hydel High duo Shiann Salmon and Cherokee Young.

“At this moment we are open minded, we are not setting any form of goal for her. She's very young and the process for her is a day-by-day progression. Our focus right now is to keep her healthy, that's our focus, nothing more,” he added.

Last year SUNO women placed third St the NAIA Indoor Championships with 59 points, after Wayland Baptist (100 points) and runners-up Indiana Tech (69 points).

However Lady Knights stepped it up in the Outdoor Championships, winning with 64 points, ahead of British Columbia (62 points), and Indiana Tech (59 points).

Williams will he crucial to the Lady Knights good showing in 2019, as they gear up for the Indoor Championships from February 28 to March 2 in South Dakota.

A week after Williams made her mark, 21-year-old Jamaican Shannon Kalawan clocked a personal best 52.71 seconds to win the 400m at the Carolina Challenge in Columbia, South Carolina.

Since then the St Augustine's University sophomore, a past student of Edwin Allen High and the University of Technology, had been named Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

Kalawan is ranked number one in the country among Division II sprinters in the 400 dash. She recorded the seventh-fastest women's 400 time (52.71) in Division II history this season. The standout sprinter ranks first in the conference in the 200 and 400 dashes and anchors the nation's third-ranked 4x400 relay team.

A very multi-talented athlete majoring in exercise science, Kalawan is the 2016 World Junior Championships silver medallist in the 400m hurdles.

— Paul Burrowes

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