BVI Northwestern State trio kicks off season with personal bests

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Djimon Gumbs, left, Akira Phillip and Diamante Gumbs at the Ted Nelson Invitational in Texas

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Twin brothers Djimon and Diamante Gumbs and Akira Phillip, kicked off the 2022 Indoor Track and Field season for Northwestern State University with personal bests at the Ted Nelson Invitation in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.  

Djimon won the Shot Put with a personal best heave of 17.63m which came on his final attempt, after seizing the lead with 17.20m. The mark  was a new school record and eclipsed his previous 17:03m best set at home in July after returning from New Mexico Jr. College.

Djimon said he had been feeling good in practice and knew the meet was important and he wanted to make a statement.

“Going into the competition I was very relaxed and confident. I trusted the coaching and executed everything and I’m glad to come away with the personal best,” he told Island Sun Sports. “The difference (between 17.20m and 17.63m) was me just locking in mentally, listening to the coach, because before that throw, we all knew something big could happen. On the last throw, I just gave it everything I had, still was a bit off technically, but of course I’m still happy with the personal best.”

Djimon said he’s more confident this year than in the past, as key for the difference in his performance and he’s believing in himself a lot more. “My coach (Mike Heimerman) also believes in me, he’s been working with me and I’m really thankful for that and he got us to this school, so it’s all about believing in yourself. Once you put in the work and put your mind to it, you’ll be happy with the results,” he said, noting that he has also cleaned up his fouling troubles. “Back then in practice, it was always fouling but now you have to get into the habit to keep your throws. If you do that in practice, it will carry over into competition. So I think practicing, practicing and practicing has been the big difference.”   

Diamante finished second in the Weight Throw with a mark of 17.27m on his second attempt. Only Eldred Henry and Eric “Shaq” Mathias’ have thrown the 35 lbs weight further, with 1956m and 19.50m respectively.

“I knew that I had a personal best when I saw it land and my coach was emphasizing being explosive, being fast and getting a good release,” Diamante explained. “I focused on what I wanted to do and as I did my two turns, I got really aggressive and I really punched it at the end. When I saw it fly out and saw it land, I knew that was the one so I clapped in celebration. I was really pleased. It was really a good start and hopefully I’ll build on that for the next meet.”

Having a coach pushing him makes him better, he said and that has been the main difference over 2021. “A change in environment, being around new teammates, getting used to them and putting my best foot forward, I think that has been the main difference between last year and this year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a way better season than I had in New Mexico and I’m off to a good start. I feel from here, it’s just improvements and building on my marks and being the best version of myself. So, it’s just going into the lab and just working and working so that each meet would be better than the last.”

Javelin Throwing specialist Akira Phillip, had a personal best heave of 11.93m, in her Shot Put competition.

“I think I could have done better but I was a bit nervous, so next week I’ll see If I can do better,” Phillip, who’s preparing for outdoors, said. “I have five days of training so I try to do Javelin two days a week, two days I work on the Shot Put and one day on the Hammer. I’m trying to improve in everything as I go along. It also depends on how I’m feeling what I will do.”

Phillip said her Javelin is coming along but she’s having problems with her knees—which she needs for the Javelin because of the sudden stop—as compared to the Shot and Hammer where she spins. “I’ve been doing therapy since last semester,” she said. “Everything is easier on the knees than Javelin. I took up the Hammer when I returned from summer break. I’m not the best but I’m getting better. I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I’m getting my turns properly and also my release, but that’s a hit and miss. Everything overall is getting better. ”

At the BYU Invitational, Utah State Sophomore Xiomara “Gia” Malone, kicked off her season with a 2nd place finish in the 60m Hurdles in 8.94 seconds. She cut the sand at 5.19m to finish fourth and cleared 1.62m to finish 5th in the High Jump.   

University of Central Florida’s Beyonce DeFretias was ninth in the Clemson Invitational 200m and had a non-advancing, 7.62 seconds in the 60m. 

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