Hodge blasts season opener while Collegians break out  | Island Sun

Hodge blasts season opener while Collegians break out 

Djimon Gumbs, Josh Hill, Diamante Gumbs and Khybah Dawson, opened their season at Texas Tech 

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Adaejah Hodge opened her season by chopping .24 seconds off her 60m by climbing to No 2 All Time Indoors, while nine collegians saw action, four of whom were debutantes.

Hodge, now at Montverde Academy in Bradenton, Florida, won her 55 meter heat in 6.90 seconds at the Virginia Showcase on Saturday.  The soon to be 17 year old then finished 2nd in the 60m dash in 7.24 seconds to teammate Micayah Holland’s 7.21. Hodge chopped her personal best from 7.51, and became the territory’s No 2 performer behind Tahesia Harrigan-Scott’s 7.09 from 2008.

Hodge told Island Sun Sports that her coach wanted her to execute what they had been working on in practice, including being aggressive out the blocks, not rushing the drive phase and making sure they didn’t have excessive air time.

“Going into the 55, I was super excited as it was my first 55,” she said. “When I saw 6.90, I was super excited because it was a US No 2 (mark) so it really boosted my confidence going into the 60m.”

Hodge said since it was the first time she and Holland were running together, her coach told them to focus on their own lane, have tunnel vision and not rush the drive phase.

“Crossing the line to see a 7.24, had to be the most shocking thing I had ever experienced in my life, because my PR was 7.51,” she said. “It’s really relieving to see that the training is going well and to open the season rewriting history and in the BVI and the US, I know there’s more work to be done. This boosts my confidence for the rest of my season.”

Collegiate debutants

South Florida Freshmen Jaleel Croal, won the 60m at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational in 6.74 seconds, after a 6.79 prelim. Croal, who admitted being nervous, said he didn’t know what a good indoor time was. “I kinda stumbled (out the blocks” then caught myself and then had to work,” Croal noted of his prelim. “For the final, I executed better. All I’ve been working on since I came to the school was the start of my race.”

UCF’s Beyonce DeFreitas won the 400m in 56.92 seconds.

New Mexico Jr. College’s Khybah Dawson, was among four BVI athletes at the Texas Tech Corky Classic. In his first meet since injuring himself at last year’s Carifta Games, Dawson opened his season with a Long Jump leap of 7.44m (24’5”) to place second. He won his 200m heat in 21.84 seconds for the meet’s 13 best mark, then had a 49 second split on his team’s 3 minutes 28.49 seconds 4×4 Relay.  

“It was a good debut. I’ve never run indoors before, never jumped indoors and it was a different feeling,” Dawson said. “It feels good to jump at a College level. Returning to the Long Jump was good. It felt different because I didn’t foul the first jump and my second jump is always the greatest jump. It feels good to jump after I got injured the last time I jumped. It feels humbling to jump again.”

After injury derailed his 2022 season, UTEP’s Josh Hill returned to action with a 47.70 seconds 400m and placed seventh. “I feel like my season opener was good. I’m satisfied with it, due to the circumstances of being out a whole year with injuries,” Hill said. “There’s always room for improvement—especially in this sport. So it’s back to the drawing board and getting ready for the rest of the season.”

Northwestern State’s Djimon Gumbs won the Shot Put with a heave of 17.44m (57’2¾”) while twin brother Diamante was 8th  with 16.08m (52’9¼”). “It was a good opener for me,” Gumbs said. “I was 31 cms short of my opener last year and to see that I could do that on a fatigued body, it says that I have gotten stronger and I’ve gotten technically better, so I’m just excited to see how this season is going to play out.”

Diamante was 9th in the Weight Throw with a 16.82m (55’2¼”) inch heave and thanked God for getting through the meet healthy. “I feel like I had a good start, it’s something I can definitely build from,” he said of the Shot. “The Weight, it was a bit shaky technically. I have some stuff to fix but that’s minor.”

Northern Iowa Area Community College’s Bruce Huggins ran 7.33 seconds in the 60m and 23.91 in his 200m debut. “For my first indoor meet, I know I could do better in the next meet” he said.

South Dakota State Heptathlete A’Keela McMaster, ran 9.45 seconds in the Bison Cup 60m Hurdles; leapt 5.28m in the Long Jump for eight place and ran 26.13, for fourth in the 200m.  

Eastern New Mexico’s Alisha Hayde, contributed a second leg carry on her team’s 4×4 Relay, that was 3rd in 4:25.66, in the Friday Night Kick Axe Open, in Arizona.