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Michelle Smith Sets New Records at Florida Track Meet, Leading VI Athletes to Success

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Michelle Smith, a beacon of Virgin Islands athleticism, shines at a Florida track competition. Courtesy of the Virgin Islands Track and Field Federation.

In an outstanding display of athleticism and determination, Michelle Smith, a distinguished senior from Montverde Academy and an esteemed sports representative of the Virgin Islands, secured a triumphant victory at the Florida High School Challenge Indoor Track and Field meet held in Gainesville, Florida, on February 3, 2024.

Smith’s performance was nothing short of spectacular as she dominated the 60m Hurdles, setting a new Virgin Islands National U20 and Montverde Academy record with a blistering time of 8.65 seconds. Her prowess continued on the track as she shattered another VI National U20 record in the 400m, securing third place with a time of 54.15 seconds. This remarkable feat positions her as the 8th fastest U.S. high school athlete in the category, as recognized by the Virgin Islands Track & Field Federation.

Previously, at the Legends of Alachua County Meet in Gainesville, Florida, Smith had already showcased her growing skill set. On January 27 and 28, she set a personal best in the 200m at 24.48 seconds, clinched the 60m hurdles, and earned a second-place finish in the 400m. Her next challenge will be at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, scheduled for February 10 and 11, 2024.

Virgin Islands Athletes Excel on National Stage

Smith’s achievements are part of a broader trend of exceptional performances by Virgin Islands athletes in the indoor track and field season.

  • Malique Smith kicked off his season with a bang at the Celebration Pointe Indoor Classic in Gainesville, FL, leading his heat in the 200m and capturing second in the 400m.
  • Rachel Conhoff, an Indiana State University graduate student, emerged victorious in the mile at the Blue-White Classic in Terre Haute, Indiana, with a time of 5:08.02. She looks forward to competing at the Marian Indoor Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 9, 2024.
  • Nicola Peters, demonstrating her skills at the AHSAA State Indoor Meet in Birmingham, Alabama, finished 6th in the 60m and contributed to her team’s 7th place in the 4x200m relay.
  • Sofia Swindell made her mark at the UC High School Invitational in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, with a 3rd place in the 55m and a team second in the 4x200m relay, achieving New Jersey’s 11th fastest time. She is set to compete in the Garden State Invitational in Staten Island, New York, on February 16, 2024.
  • Osaze DeMund Williams set a personal record at the New Mexico Team Open 2024 in Albuquerque, finishing 8th in the 800m. He will participate in the Don Kirby Invitational on February 9 and 10, 2024.
  • Brandon Pemberton showcased his talent at the Washburn Rust Buster in Topeka, Kansas, securing 3rd in the 60m and 2nd in the 200m. He anticipates competing in the Tyson Invitational on February 10, 2024, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Local Meets Highlight Virgin Islands’ Emerging Talent

The local track and field scene continues to thrive, with the 2nd SCIAA Track and Field Meet highlighting upcoming stars from middle school to varsity levels. Held at the St. Croix Educational Complex Track facility, the event showcased talents like Faith Eatmon, Juvante Hurst, Sarah Raglin, Jarl Oversen, Naomi Crawford, and Nasir Saldana.

Additionally, the 2nd Champion Track Club developmental meet in St. Thomas unveiled promising athletes in the U17 and U20 categories, including Chaya George, Micah Dominique, and Christol Braithwaite, further proving the depth of talent within the Virgin Islands’ athletic community.

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31st International Optimist Regatta Sets Sail in St. Thomas

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The 31st International Optimist Regatta (IOR) has officially begun, bringing together young sailing talents from around the globe. Hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), the event kicks off with the TOTE Clinic from June 10 to June 12, followed by the TOTE Team Race on June 13, and culminating with the regatta from June 14 to June 16.

V.I. Dept. of Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte highlighted the event’s significance. “We are thrilled to welcome young sailors and their families to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 31st International Optimist Regatta,” he remarked. “This event not only showcases the incredible talent of our youth but also brings together a vibrant community from around the world to experience the natural beauty and hospitality of St. Thomas.”

This year, over 100 sailors aged 8 to 15 from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and various U.S. states will compete in the regatta. They will race in 8-foot long single-sail Optimists, vying for top honors in a competition that has historically been a stepping stone to advanced sailing events, including the Olympics.

Significantly, the regatta serves as preparation for the upcoming Optimist North American Championships (OPTINAM) scheduled for July 13-20 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Participants include U.S. Optimist National Team members such as Wills Gandy, Cassady Lorentzen, and Alexander Montagu, who bring their extensive experience from competitions across the U.S.

Agustin ‘Argy’ Resano, USVI National Team Coach, underscored the event’s relevance to OPTINAM. “The IOR is a perfect setup for OPTINAM in Puerto Rico due to the similarities of the venues,” he explained, noting the unique challenges of local sailing conditions, such as navigating through seagrass.

The event also features a comprehensive coaching clinic with instructors from around the world, enhancing both competitive and cooperative aspects of the sport. The TOTE Maritime Team Race introduces a team-based dynamic, fostering camaraderie and strategic teamwork among participants.

Awards and recognitions will be presented on the final day, with trophies for top performers in various age categories and special awards for sportsmanship and outstanding individual achievements. Supported by a host of local and international sponsors, the event promises a well-organized and memorable experience for all attendees.

For more information, participants and enthusiasts are encouraged to visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website.

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Carnival Races Success Sets Stage for Pre-Emancipation Day Event on June 30

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The recent Carnival horse races at the Clinton E. Phipps racetrack have left a lasting impression, with organizers and participants reflecting on the success and camaraderie of the event. David Edmonds, a representative of Southland Gaming, expressed his delight, saying, “I’m still smiling ear to ear as I look back on photos and talk with everybody about it.”

During a meeting of the St. Thomas/St. John horse racing committee, Edmonds provided an overview of the May 3 event, highlighting the intense preparation that ensured all promised infrastructure was ready for the first official race day in eight years. This effort included a round-the-clock work schedule leading up to race day.

Attention is now shifting to Phase 3 of the project. Edmonds mentioned that after a brief recovery period, the team has resumed work. The next steps involve completing tasks such as finishing touches to the grandstand and jockey and vet areas. Following this, construction will begin on the equipment storage facilities for the isolation barn, with work expected to start in June. Subsequent phases include building the secondary and main barns.

Calvert White, Commissioner of the Department of Sports Parks and Recreation, who acted as the race promoter, described the experience as one of the most challenging of his 17-year tenure. Despite skepticism from some in the community, White felt vindicated by the event’s success, estimating attendance at between 5,500 and 6,000 people. “It honestly went better than I envisioned it going, knowing all the things that had to be done leading up to the opening day,” White said. The search for a permanent promoter is ongoing, with a request for qualifications being drafted.

Looking ahead, industry stakeholders are eagerly anticipating the pre-Emancipation Day races on June 30. Hugo Hodge, chairman of the V.I. Horse Racing Commission, announced several planned races, including the mile and 16th Lieutenant Governor’s Cup and a mile Administrator’s Cup race for mares and fillies. Entries will close on June 21, with gate positions determined on June 24.

Finally, Shaine Gaspard, Southland Gaming’s chief operating officer, noted that three horsemen have yet to collect their winnings. He urged Augustus Raleigh, Lesmore Smith, and Rafael Braithwaite to submit the necessary paperwork to process their payments, while confirming that all other payments were processed promptly.

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USVI Athletes Shine Brightly at Recent Competitions; Eduardo Garcia Secures Olympic Spot

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Eduardo Garcia, the Virgin Islands’ standout athlete, shattered the VI record in the Half Marathon by clocking a stunning 1:03:53 in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 28. This remarkable performance has earned him a spot at the 2024 Olympic Games, where he is set to compete in the Marathon on August 10.

On the high school track, Michelle Smith has been dominating her season, as evidenced by her recent haul of gold medals at the Florida High Schools District Championships on April 30. Smith opened her day with a winning 5.38-meter long jump, followed by a victory in the 100m hurdles with a time of 14.31 seconds. She didn’t stop there; she triumphed in the 400m hurdles, finishing in 57.56 seconds, and anchored her 4×400 relay team to gold with a time of 3:41.28. Currently ranked in the top 40 globally for the 400m hurdles, Smith is a strong contender for Olympic qualification.

Nicola Peters also made headlines with her performance at the Alabama High Schools District Championships on April 26 and 27, where she earned silver medals in both the 100m and 200m events, recording times of 12.27 and 24.84 seconds, respectively. Peters rounded off her achievements with another silver in the 4x100m relay alongside her teammates from Sparkman High. She is now set to compete at the Alabama State Championships on May 13.

In collegiate athletics, Rachel Conhoff, a graduate student at Indiana State University, broke her own Virgin Islands national record in the 1500m event at the Bill Hayes Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana, on May 3. She posted a record-breaking time of 4:26.72, which is also the fifth fastest in the university’s history.

Additionally, sprinter Sofia Swindell has earned her spot at the Under 20 World Championships in Lima, Peru, this August. Competing at the Ed Poreda Invitational in Lawrenceville, NJ, Swindell clinched first in the 100m hurdles with a swift 14.20 seconds and set a personal best of 11.96 seconds in the 100m dash, taking home the gold.

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