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Michelle Smith Shatters Records at New Balance Indoor Nationals, Leading a Historic Run for the Virgin Islands

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Michelle Smith, the illustrious sports ambassador from the Virgin Islands and a senior standout at Montverde Academy, has once again captured the spotlight. Her electrifying performances at the New Balance Indoor National Championships, held from March 8th to 10th, have set new standards in track and field, as reported by the Virgin Islands Track & Field Federation.

The championships began with Smith propelling her Montverde Academy 4x200m relay team into the spotlight, securing a finals berth with a leading time of 1:36.21. Her prowess continued to shine the following day in the 60m Hurdles preliminary round, where she clocked in at 7.78, effortlessly advancing to the semi-finals. Despite a narrowly missed opportunity to break her own VI National U20 record in the semi-finals with a time of 6.67, Smith’s determination was undeterred. In the 400m semi-final, she not only triumphed but also established a new VI National U20 record of 54.22. She then outdid herself in the final, posting an astounding 53.55, thus earning her spot at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Lima, Peru.

Smith’s remarkable journey didn’t end there; she was instrumental in setting a new meet record for the Montverde Academy’s 4x400m relay team, clocking a combined time of 3:38.18. Her individual split of 52.9 was pivotal in this record-setting performance.

These achievements mark a fitting conclusion to Smith’s exceptional indoor high school career. Yet, her athletic journey is far from over, as she sets her sights on the 18th Spring Break Classic, a stepping stone to the Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Sofia Swindell, another promising athlete from the Virgin Islands and a junior at The Lawrenceville School, also made her mark in Boston. Swindell and her teammates clinched third in the Sprint Medley relay heat, establishing a new school record of 4:09.25, thanks to Swindell’s standout 400m leg completed in 56.23.

While Swindell narrowly missed the semi-finals in the 60m Hurdles, she excelled in the 200m, securing her heat with a personal best of 24.39 and further improving to 23.97 in the final. This performance has also paved her way to the World Athletics U20 Championships, adding to the Virgin Islands’ growing legacy in the sport.

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Michelle Smith: A Beacon of Excellence in Academia and Athletics Nominated for Esteemed Award

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The Virgin Islands have yet again marked their spot on the global map of extraordinary talent with Michelle Smith’s nomination for the Student-Athlete of the Year Award at Montverde Academy. This honor underscores her exceptional dual success in academia, where she shines with a Grade Point Average of 4.32, and athletics, where her prowess is unmatched.

Smith’s recent triumph at the Carifta Games, where she secured gold in both the 400m hurdles and 800m races, further cemented her status as an athlete par excellence. Her record-setting performance in the 800m has rewritten the Virgin Islands’ history books. Additionally, her time of 56.06 in the 400m hurdles has positioned her as the world’s front-runner in the event.

At Montverde Academy, Smith has been nothing short of phenomenal, setting benchmarks in various track and field events. She holds records in indoor challenges such as the 55m hurdles, 60m hurdles, 600m, and long jump, and shines outdoors with records in the 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 800m, and long jump.

The community’s support can propel Smith to victory in this nomination, with voting open until April 11, 2024. Participating is easy: visit the voting page, select the “Eagle Choice Award FEMALE Varsity Student-Athlete of the Year Ballot” or “Girls Ballot,” choose Michelle Smith’s picture, and submit your vote to honor her achievements.

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The Legacy of Aliyah Boston Elevates South Carolina to a Historic Victory

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In a display of dominant sportsmanship, the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team secured their third national title in the program’s history with an 87-75 triumph over the Iowa Hawkeyes. This victory, achieved on a Sunday, marked the pinnacle of an undefeated season, a testament to the team’s unparalleled dedication and skill.

The celebration extended beyond the hardwood, where a poignant story unfolded, highlighting the profound impact of familial bonds and spiritual faith on athletic excellence. Among the fans was Cleone Boston, who, in a heartfelt interview with WACH Fox 57, expressed seeing “God’s hand at work” in the Gamecocks’ remarkable journey to victory.

Cleone, the proud mother of Aliyah Boston, a celebrated Gamecocks alumna, has been a steadfast supporter throughout the season. Her presence at the SEC tournament and the national championship was driven by a promise to Coach Dawn Staley, a commitment rooted in the deep connection formed during her daughter’s tenure with the team. Cleone’s unwavering support underscores a fundamental belief imparted by Coach Staley: once you are a Gamecock, you are family forever. This enduring ethos, Cleone believes, played a role in the team’s latest triumph, viewing it as the fruition of “answered prayers.”

Aliyah Boston’s legacy continues to resonate, not only through her mother’s support but also in her burgeoning professional career. In her rookie season with the Indiana Fever, Boston has already made significant strides, finishing sixth in the WNBA Eastern Conference. Standing tall at 6’5″, her prowess as a center/forward was on full display, leading her team with 11 rebounds and scoring 6 points. Her remarkable debut season was crowned with accolades, including the WNBA Rookie of the Year and the Associated Press Rookie of the Year, a fitting continuation of her influential legacy within the sport.

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New Rule Accelerates Entry of Imported Horses for Governor’s Cup, Setting Cut-off at 14 Days

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During an emergency session convened by the St. Thomas/St. John Horse Racing Commission, a pivotal discussion unfolded, prompted by a morning email from 17 industry stakeholders including horse owners and trainers. The correspondence raised concerns about the eligibility criteria for the upcoming Governor’s Cup, particularly focusing on the advantage that newly-imported horses might have over locally-stationed, unraced horses.

Historically, the Governor’s Cup was open to horses that had either competed in the Virgin Islands or had been present in the territory for over 30 days prior to the race. This practice was intended to prevent newly purchased horses from overshadowing those already in the region, ensuring a fair competition. The email further addressed issues with the current system of classifying horses, suggesting that longstanding residents of the territory were at a disadvantage.

Hugo Hodge Jr., the Commission Chair, countered the classification concerns by explaining that horses are categorized based on their purchase price and win record, a long-standing method that he firmly supports. Hodge stressed the importance of offering spectators high-quality races, arguing that limiting entries to local horses could result in mismatched competitions that fail to satisfy public expectations. He highlighted his commitment to enhancing the racing experience for fans, despite his respect for owners who have maintained their horses during challenging times.

Echoing Hodge’s sentiments, Commissioner Sheldon Turnbull emphasized the need for flexibility in importing race-ready horses, especially as the territory resumes racing activities after a seven-year hiatus. He commended the dedication of owners who kept their horses active during this period, advocating for adjustments to past practices to reflect current realities.

Amid discussions, it was revealed that several owners were striving to meet the traditional 30-day threshold but faced unavoidable delays. This disclosure led to a broader conversation about adapting the cut-off period to accommodate such challenges, with Turnbull hinting at a potential change that some stakeholders might have anticipated.

The meeting progressed to a more inclusive phase, allowing attendees to voice their concerns and seek clarifications. Clinton Hedrington, President of the St. Thomas/St. John Horsemen’s Association, expressed support for the Commission’s forward-looking approach, despite being unaware of the letter’s distribution.

Ultimately, Turnbull proposed officially reducing the cut-off period for imported horses to 14 days, a motion that was met with approval from the attendees, marking a significant shift in policy aimed at revitalizing the racing scene in the Virgin Islands amidst its revival efforts.

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