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Virgin Islands National Team Athletes Shine with Record-Breaking Performances

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The sports world has been captivated by the outstanding achievements of three athletes from the Virgin Islands National Team. Eduardo Garcia, Osaze Demund Williams, and Sofia Swindell have each set new records in their respective events, demonstrating their prowess at national and conference championships.

Eduardo Garcia: A New Benchmark for the Virgin Islands

Eduardo Garcia, a distinguished member of the Virgin Islands National Team, delivered a remarkable performance at the Gate River USA 15K Championships in Jacksonville, Florida. Clocking in at 45:15 for the 15-kilometer race, Garcia not only shattered the Virgin Islands National record but also secured the 10th position overall. This year marked his fourth appearance and highest finish in this acclaimed road race championship. Garcia is now gearing up for the NYC Half Marathon on March 17, 2024, with his sights set on qualifying for the Marathon event at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Osaze Demund Williams: Surpassing Expectations Indoors

At the MountainWest Conference Championships, Osaze Demund Williams made headlines with his exceptional performance in the short track indoor 800m race. By finishing in 1:50.87, Williams established a new Virgin Islands National indoor record, showcasing his extraordinary talent and dedication to his sport.

Sofia Swindell: Elevating Standards and Securing Victories

Sofia Swindell, another prodigious talent on the Virgin Islands Track and Field Team, demonstrated her versatility and skill at the NJSIAA Indoor Championship meet with The Lawrenceville School in Tom’s River, NJ. Swindell matched her own VI U20 National Record in the 55m Hurdles with a blistering time of 8.23, clinching first place. She also recorded a personal best in the 55m Dash at 7.16 and played a pivotal role in her 4x400m relay team’s victory, propelling The Lawrenceville School to the NJSIAA Prep A Championship title.

Continuing her streak of success, Swindell participated in the Elite Division of the Ocean Breeze Elite Invitational in Staten Island, NY. There, she set personal records in the 60m Hurdles prelims and finals with times of 8.79 and 8.72, respectively, securing fifth place in the finals. In addition, Swindell contributed to setting a school record in the 4x200m relay with a time of 1:43.20.

With an eye on future accomplishments, Swindell is preparing to compete at the New Balance Nationals Indoor championships from March 8-10, 2024, in Boston, MA.

These athletes’ achievements have not only set new standards for Virgin Islands sports but have also served as a source of inspiration for many. Their dedication, hard work, and talent continue to elevate the Virgin Islands’ presence on the international sports stage.

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Sports

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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