By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
In the annual St. Augustine’s invitational meet that is known as the CIAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, things held true to form on the men’s side as the Falcons won for the 22nd consecutive year. However, a resurgence on the track at Bowie State led to the men’s team nearly landing on the podium.
The men’s team finished in fourth place, while the women finished in sixth in what was their best team conference championship performance since 2006. Had it not been for a DNF (did not finish) in a preliminary heat and a disqualification because a runner didn’t conclude a distance event, the men would have finished with the team bronze medal.
Head coach Michelle Latimer has been able to re-establish a successful program whose stars shined brightest this year in their biggest conference meet. Most CIAA track experts didn’t expect for Bowie State to be in the running with the heavyweight programs in the conference, but they entered with high expectation and were within those missteps of meeting their goal.
“We went to the meet expecting to finish on the podium this year,” said head coach Michelle Latimer. “Despite their youth, this team ran with a lot of confidence. This is a unique group of kids with one common goal.”
“Track is an individual sport, but you still have to be part of a team to win.”
Freshman Davon Carroll, who was as consistent a performer as anyone in the CIAA all season, won the conference championship in the marquee event. Carroll finished first in the 100-meters finals with the time of 10.51 seconds after placing third in men’s preliminary heat at 10.57.
Carroll is a local athlete who stayed at home to compete in college, but Latimore knew he was the type of runner who could be a program changer with.
“He’s a humble young man who his very coachable,” Latimore said.
In men’s 4×100-meter relay, Bowie State finished third at 41.69. Teaming with Demontay Snowden, Derrick Corley, and Frank Bailey, Carroll anchored the final led of the race which was a big factor in their final point total that helped them finish in the top four in the race for the team title.
Carroll, who was clearly the most valuable performer for the Bulldogs during the regular season, finished in seventh place at the Penn Relays in late April. He also made a significant impact on the team in the 200 meters. His 21.41 time was good for second place, which were important points in the team competition as they made their bid for a place on the podium with the champions.
Sophomore Stedman Cook, a University of Connecticut transfer, also proved to be a vital contributor to their run during the CIAA championships. Cook’s 22.14 time in the 200 meters earned second place after a fifth place finish in the 100 meter event with his time of 10.51.
Bowie State also got a lift from its 4X400 meter relay team, who also made its way to the podium. The team of Jalen Sykes, Robert Thomas, O’Shay Powers and Demontay Snowden ran a time of 3:21.76 to finish third.