Gumbs qualify for NCAA DI Championships with series of firsts

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Djimon Gumbs becomes 1st Northwestern State, BVI & OECS thrower heading to the NCAA Championships in two events Photo credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services 

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

After catapulting himself from 19th to 8th place in the Shot Put, then climbing from the middle of the 48 man pack to 10th in the Discus Throw during the NCAA Division I East Regional  in Bloomington, Indiana to qualify for the June 8-11, NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Northwestern State’s Djimon Gumbs said he was in shock learning about his accomplishments.

He’s the first Northwestern State male athlete to qualify for the NCAA Championships in two field events, the BVI’s first male athlete to do so in throwing events and the first in the OECS to qualify in both Shot Put and Discus Throw. He became the 9th BVI athlete qualifying for the out championships and fourth male since 1979.

“It was so surreal to me that I made nationals and I didn’t know it was of such historic significance to the BVI or the (Eastern) Caribbean ,” Gumbs told Island Sun Sports on Sunday after he returned to school. “When I saw these stats, I was very impressed, because it’s crazy that I’m part of something special and it makes me feel good. I’m really thankful for the opportunity and being a part of BVI history is something I’ll cherish for sure.”

Gumbs made his first move in the Shot Put, after an 18.34m (60’2”) effort on his second attempt, with a massive 19.22m (63’-¾”) on his final throw, climbing to No 2  on the NSU All Time List behind his Coach, Mike Heimerman and the BVI’s No 2 All Time behind Eldred Henry. It also marked the first time two BVI athletes had thrown over 19.20m in the same season as Henry has a 19.84m (65’1”) mark in his comeback season—a first in the OECS. Gumbs shattered his previous  best of 18.87m (61.11”).

In the Discus, sitting on 54.42m (178’6”) Gumbs’ third attempt release after rotating his body, landed 55.92m (183’5”) which was good for 10th place, as the top 12 advanced to Eugene.

“The Discus was a dog fight. The rains came again, we had to deal with a slick ring and everyone was having a hard time and we didn’t have much time as I only got 2-3 warm up throws, it was just bad,” he reflected. “Every throw got better and after the 2nd round, I saw 12th place was 55.64 (182’6”). I watched my coach and he was like you can do this and on the last throw I did what I did in the Shot Put, I just locked in mentally and I put it out there. It was 55.9 and I’ll take it. I was really happy that I could make it in both Discus and Shot Put. I was really a humbling experience for me.”

Gumbs, who has a Discus Throw best of 58.90m (193’3”), said his performances give him a boost of confidence heading to Eugene and feels good mentally and physically. He returned to practice on Tuesday and began fine tuning work ahead of departing for the NCAA Championships.  

Twin brother Diamante only had one legal mark of 51.22m (168’1’) and placed 38th in the 48 man field. In the Shot, he had an unlooked for 16.35m (53’7¾”) well off his 17.70m (58’-¾”), to finish 41st.

Indiana’s Rikkoi Brathwaite had a non-advancing mark of 10.63 seconds in his 100m prelim to finish eight, while University of Central Florida’s Beyonce DeFreitas’ 23.62 seconds in the 200m, was good for seventh in her heat, but wasn’t among the times advancing. 

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