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Virgin Islands Athletes Shine in Track and Field Competitions

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From left to right, Michelle Smith and Sofia Swindell, exemplifying excellence in track and field. Courtesy of THE VIRGIN ISLANDS TRACK & FIELD FEDERATION.

Michelle Smith, a revered sports ambassador for the Virgin Islands, shattered the national 400m hurdles record at the 18th Carolina Spring Break Classic in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on March 17. Competing as a senior from Montverde Academy, Smith clocked an impressive 56.06 seconds, setting not only a new meet record but also securing her status among the top five all-time high school athletes in the United States for this event. This stellar performance has positioned her as the foremost U20 athlete globally in her category. Smith is eagerly preparing to fly the Virgin Islands flag high at the upcoming CARIFTA Games in Grenada, competing in both the 400m hurdles and the 800m events from March 30 to April 1, 2024.

Sofia Swindell, a promising junior from Lawrenceville School and a proud member of the Virgin Islands Track and Field Team, made her mark at the Spring Invitational at IMG 2024 in Bradenton, Florida, on March 16. Swindell captured first place in the 200m race, setting a personal record of 23.85 seconds, and led the pack in the 100m hurdles with an outstanding time of 14.26 seconds. Her prowess didn’t stop there; she also clinched third place in the triple jump, reaching 11.12m. Swindell’s exceptional achievements have earned her a spot to represent the Virgin Islands in these three disciplines at the forthcoming CARIFTA Games.

Competing at the same event as Smith, Malique Smith showcased his skills at the Carolina Spring Break Classic, securing third place in the 400m hurdles with a commendable season-opening time of 51.54 seconds. He then went on to achieve a personal best in the 400m race with a time of 48.05 seconds. Malique Smith is gearing up for his next appearance at the Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida, on April 2 and 3, 2024.

Mikaela Smith also took to the track at the Carolina Spring Break Classic, finishing 10th in her 1500m race heat with a time of 4:59.07. Alongside Malique, Mikaela is set to compete at the Pepsi Florida Relays, providing another stage for the Virgin Islands athletes to display their track and field talents.

These remarkable athletes exemplify the Virgin Islands’ dedication to excellence in sports, each setting new benchmarks and inspiring the next generation of track and field stars.

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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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