Three Jamaicans seek to successfully defend NJCAA titlesSaturday, February 20, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
THREE Jamaicans will be seeking to defend their respective titles at the two-day National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) Region VI and XI championships that start today while almost 20 others will be seeking their first titles at this level.
Former Kingston College jumper Shakwon Coke of Barton Community College will defend the long and triple jump titles; his teammate Annia Ashley, formerly of Edwin Allen High School,will defend her high and triple jump titles; while former Calabar High School athlete Andrew Betton of Cloud County will defend his heptahlon title – all at the KJCCC (Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference)/Region VI championships at Pittsburg State University's Robert W Plaster Center.
The Region XI championships will be held at the University of Central Missouri Multipurpose Building in Warrensburg.
Additionally, another six athletes are ranked number one nationally on the NJCAA charts — Tyrese Reid of Barton County is number one in the men's 600m and 800m and is also ranked in the 1000m; Dashinelle Dyer of Iowa Central Community College is number one in the men's 60m hurdles; Romaine Beckford of South Plains tops the men's high jump; Courtney Lawrence and Daniel Cope of Cloud County are tops in the men's shot put and weight throw, respectively; while Alliyah McNeil of Iowa Western leads the high jump rankings.
Coke will have some work to do as he goes into the event ranked number four in the long jump, trailing former St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) student Michael Buchanan of Iowa Western who is ranked number two.
Ashley's biggest test could come from her own teammate, freshman Nia Robinson and former STETHS athlete Alliyah McNeil of Iowa Western who is ranked number one in the high jump.
Robinson, formerly of Rusea's High School, has not competed since January 23 but could be the dark horse in all three jumping events this weekend.
Ashley is the favourite for the long jump in which she will be joined by Roninson and former Excelsior High School jumper Sanique Rose, while the roles are switched in the triple jump as Robinson is ranked number two in the nation and Ashley, number three.
Betton, who will seek back-to-back titles in the indoor multi-event, will be joined by his former Calabar High School teammate Renaldo Savory of Cloud County, who is eighth nationally.
Reid, who attended Spot Valley High School, will be gunning to make up for a disappointing Regional Championship last year when he underperformed, and has been running well this year and will look to get on the podium in the 600m and the 800m events.
Former Garvey Maceo High School runner Shamar Brown of Iowa Western, who only arrived in the US last month, will hope to feature in the 600m and 800m as well.
Dyer missed the regionals last year but is odds-on favourite to win the 60m hurdles and could also score points for Iowa Central in the 60m dash as well.
Lawrence has been climbing up the NJCAA shot put rankings all season and his personal best 18.92m is the second-best all time and, barring an upset, will improve on his second-place finish last year at both the regional and national events.
Lawrence's former Petersfield High School teammate Cope also looks well placed to win the weight throw, improving his personal best and school record twice this season.
Former Vere Technical High School athlete Nickesha Pryce of Iowa Western leads the 400m while Barton County's Kayon Green, the former Edwin Allen High School star, will seek to add the 800m title to her long list of accolades.
Barton County's Lashana Graham, who was known for her hurdling prowess at Edwin Allen High School, should feature in the 400m, while her teammate and former Holmwood Tech High School rep Sasha Brown, a medallist at the NJCAA National last year, will go after honours in the 600m.
South Plain's Romaine Beckford, who shot to fame at Buff Bay High School, is the number one-ranked male high jumper after he set a new personal best 2.20m two weeks ago and was second at the nationals last year.
Former Vere Tech High School thrower Marie Forbes of Cloud County will look for the double in the women's shot put and weight throw in which for both she is ranked number two and will be joined by Iowa Western's Shania Parkinson, formerly of Hydel High School.
Former Holmwood Technical High School representative Dyandra Gray of Iowa Western is ranked number four in the women's 60m hurdles.
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