By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Jah’Kyla Morton became the 1st BVI’s female to win an individual North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Age Group Championships—formerly CAC—title in the 36 years history of the event, while Othniel Gillings joined 2003 winner Dione Blyden as an individual champion. The territory’s four athletes won the 13-14 Girls and 11-12 Boys Team Division titles in Managua, Nicaragua, over the weekend—a 1st in the history of the event.
After a 6th place finish to start the 13-14 Girls competition in the 80m in 10.62 seconds which was worth 683 points, Morton began burying the field by cutting the sand at 5.28m to win the Long Jump, the first of her four victories in the seven events Heptathlon, to grab a lead she would never relinquish. Her Long Jump mark qualified for the 2022 Carifta Games in Jamaica in the U17 Girls Division. McMaster was 6th with a 4.54m leap. Morton also won the Shot Put with a heave of 10.37m as McMaster placed second with 8.95m. Morton ended Day I heading the Girls Division with 1898 points and McMaster in 4th after garnering 1689.
Morton and McMaster swept the 60m Hurdles to start Day 2, with marks of 9.44 seconds and 9.52. Morton was 2nd in the Baseball Throw with a heave of 49.89m, after winning the 2019 event in the 11-12 Girls Division. McMaster placed 4th with 41.41m. Morton then leapt to her 4th victory, a personal best 1.53m High Jump clearance, while McMaster was 4th after clearing 1.45m.
In the final event, Morton finished 2nd in the 1000m in 3 minutes 39.66 seconds to close her competition with 4198 points and the 13-14 Girls Division crown. It was the highest score by a BVI female in the 36 year history of participating in CAC/NACAC competition. McMaster, who was 6th in 3:56.39, finished 2nd overall—a first in BVI CAC/NACAC history with the top two females winning a division.
Their performances surpassed Team bronze medals won by Kanishque Todman/Brittney Wattley, in 2003; Arianna Hayde/J’Nae Wong, in 2011 and their 2019, 11-12 Girls Division Team bronze in El Salvador
Morton ended the 2-day competition with four golds, two silvers, a 13-14 individual champion and team champion trophies. McMaster got 60m and Shot Put silver medals.
“They did really, really well, hard work paid off,” Coach Carl Barrett told Island Sun Sports of his charges Morton and McMaster. “They have been training for this for the past two years. The meet was to be held in July but was postponed until December. When we did a trial in May and based on the performances, the indication was there that Jah’Kyla was excelling based on the scores, she had over 3000 points. We knew the areas we had to work on to improve, so it was really, really heartening to see the performances of both Jah”Kyla and A’Sia in a lot of areas.”
Having coached them to the 11-12 Division Team bronze in 2019, Barrett said exposure is very important even if you’re blessed with talent or potential and that exposure was an eye opener for them. He said they have gotten stronger, faster and have developed in so many different areas.
“Both athletes had personal bests in the hurdles, Jah’Kyla had a personal best in the Shot Put and High Jump—which I think the sky’s the limit for her,” he said. “A’Sia also had a personal best in the 1000m.”
Gillings & Charles grab 1st team title in 36 years
Gillings began the competition by winning the 11-12 Boys 60m dash in 7.77 seconds with a +2.6mps tailwind, to start his Pentathlon tally with 919 points. Teammate Ty’Rique “TyTy” Charles was 5th overall in 8.18.
Charles was 4th in the Baseball Throw with a 50.44m effort while Gillings throw of 45.49m placed him 8th and he dropped to 2nd overall, while Charles climbed to third. Gillings then retook a lead he would never hand over, with a personal best 1.52m High Jump leap, to end Day I as Division leader, with 2057 points. Charles was 3rd with his 1.40m clearance, to remain in 3rd place in the Division with 1906 points.
Gillings used a 4.75m leap to start Day 2, in winning the Long Jump and maintained his comfortable lead with 2627 points. Charles was 8th with his 4.05m jump and dropped to 4th place.
Gillings ended his competition by running 3 minutes 17.62 seconds in the 1000m to place 3rd in a photo finish, grabbing another 562 points and the 11-12 Division individual crown with 3189 points. Charles placed 11th in 3:48.14. His 6th place overall finish combined with Gillings’ 1st, gave them 5,897 points and the 11-12 Team Division title ahead of Costa Rica’s 5,732 tally.
As Team Division champions, Gillings and Charles bettered Blyden and Jevonte Croal’s 10-11 Team Division silver in San Juan in 2003.
“I’m really impressed with him,” Barrett said of Gillings. “From the first event, he was very impressive. On more than one occasion, I sent congrats to him and Coach Frederick for a job well done.”
Barrett said Charles, who was 6th overall, turned 11 days before the competition and was the youngest in the field, he was exceptional. “It was a really great experience for him and he did well in a lot of areas,” Barrett noted. “So he’ll grow from strength to strength.”