Our junior female athletes of 2018

By RENALDO DORSETT

Tribune Sports Reporter

rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

THE future of Bahamian sport is in good hands with the current generation of young women leading the charge

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Lilly Higgs in action.

1. Lilly Higgs

Higgs continued to be a stalwart for the Bahamian national swimming teams as she excelled locally, around the globe and also made the transition to the NCAA. Higgs’ year of milestones was highlighted by a new national record in the 50m Breaststroke, set at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her time of 32.59 seconds placed her 4th in the final.

Locally, Higgs was high-point scorer for Team Bahamas among women as the Bahamas regained its title as CARIFTA swimming champions. Her total of 51 points led the 15-17 division. She captured six individual medals - four gold and two silver.

Higgs won gold in the 200 IM, 200 Breast, 50m Breast and 100m Breast and silver in the 200m Free and 400m IM.

The 36-member team won back-to-back CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Kingston, Jamaica. It was also their fourth title in five years. The Bahamas won a total of 56 medals - 23 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze.

Immediately following CARIFTA Higgs travelled to the opposite hemisphere as the youngest member of Team Bahamas at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

In addition to the national record in the 50m Breast at the CAC Games in Colombia, Higgs also finished fifth in the final of the 100m Breast in 1:11.32 but did not advance to the final of the 50m free.

The appearance at the CAC Games concluded her summer with the national team and her focus shifted to her NCAA debut with the North Carolina Tar Heels. In her first meet, Higgs finished first in the timed finals of the 100 yard (1:04.84) and 200 yard (2:19.34) Breast.

Against South Carolina, she finished first in the 100-yard Breast in 1:02.04 while sister Albury finished fifth in 1:04.09. Lilly also finished second in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:16.14 while Albury was fourth in 2:18.86. Lilly was also a member of the first place 200-yard medley relay team in 1:40.83.

She also qualified for the USA Swimming Winter National Championships in the 100 yard and 200 yard Breast.

Higgs’ 2018 season began when she concluded her prep career at the Hough High School. She recorded a new 4A State and All-State record in the 100 yard breaststroke in 1:01.57 to become the 2018 4A State Champion. She also finished third in the 200 IM in 2:03.14 at the 2018 4A State Championships.

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Jaida Knowles

2. Jaida Knowles

Knowles announced her arrival as one of the island nation’s sprinters to watch as she continues her progression through the junior level to the senior ranks.

Knowles dominated at the local and regional level before a nagging injury cut her season short at the world’s most elite junior meet.

Jamaica’s Brianna Williams was the story of CARIFTA Track and Field 2018, but Knowles gave the home crowd at the Thomas A Robinson stadium much to cheer about. She concluded the meet with three medals in the Under-17 girls division – silver in the 100m, bronze in the 200m and silver as a member of the 4x100m relay.

Knowles won silver in the century in 11.68 behind Williams in 11.27 and ahead of Soniya Jones of Antigua and Barbuda in 11.75.

In the 200m, she went on to win the bronze medal in 23.85 behind Williams in 23.11 and Shanique Bascombe of Trinidad and Tobago in 23.75.

Knowles continued her season at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. She advanced to the semi-finals of the 100m after she finished third in heat five of the prelims in 11.71.

One of several automatic qualifiers, her bid to advance to the final fell short after she suffered a slight hamstring injury in warm-ups and was unable to run.

Locally, the St Augustine’s College star was one of the top performers at High School Nationals and dominated her division. She opened by running 11.96 to surpass the CARIFTA-qualifying standard of 12.06 and she came back and did the same in the 200m in 24.10.

The standard in the half-lap race is 24.55. Knowles’ 200m time erased St Anne’s Devine Parker’s record time of 24.39 that she set in 2016.

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Megan Moss

3. Meagan Moss

One of the country’s premier quarter milers at the junior level, Moss battled through injury to have a successful junior year and also committed to join the University of Kentucky Wildcats track and field programme next fall.

Sidelined for most of the club meets in 2018, Moss did qualify for CARIFTA where she repeated her gold medal performance in the 400m before the home crowd at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.

Moss broke the old games record set by Shaunae Miller-Uibo in a time of 53.19 and she also collected two additional silvers in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays in the under-17 girls’ division.

For the fourth year in a row she represented St Augustine’s College at the Penn Relays where they advanced to the Championships of America in the 4x100m relay, the first time the Big Red Machine achieved the feat.

In May, Moss also attended the Atlanta Georgia Relays for the third straight year where she was featured in the 400m and placed third in 53.89.

In July, she was selected to represent the Bahamas at the World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland, but due to injury she was not able to travel to compete.

However, she was afforded the opportunity to represent the Bahamas for the first time at the 3rd Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the 400m. She ran through the event with the hamstring injury, but hobbled across the finish line.

She will join a Wildcats programme with Bahamian head coach Rolando Greene at the helm, and athletics icon Debbie Ferguson-Mckenzie as an assistant coach.

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Sydney Clarke

4. Sydney Clarke

Clarke’s year of milestones included a pair of titles at home and a successful run on the ITF Junior Circuit around the Caribbean.

Clarke concluded the year as the women’s main draw Champion in the BLTA’s Giorgio Baldacci National Open.

In the final, she defeated Sierra Donaldson 6-2, 6-3 en route to the win to conclude her 2018 run.

“This one feels better than the last one actually,” Clarke told the Tribune. “This is the end of the year, I closed out strong by winning the title. It’s just a great feeling.”

“The last one” she referred to was the BLTA/International Tennis Federation 2018 Goombay Splash in November where she won the Women’s Under-18 Draw.

Clarke came up with a dominant performance in the third set to eventually win the title 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 over unseeded American Leyden Games.

“It was a mixture of emotions. It was a roller coaster from the beginning. The first set I was really shaky, but I was able to win,” said Clarke. “I am so proud of myself. This is my first title at home and I really, really love the fact that I won.”

Clarke ended her summer tour on the ITF Junior Circuit on a very high note with two singles titles and one doubles title.

She also had one runner-up singles finish and a pair of runner-up doubles appearances. She defeated Amy Kaplan of the USA in the Singles Final of the Wadadii Bowl in Antigua and Barbuda 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-3. As a No.1 seed at the Tobago Jr ITF Championship, hosted at the Tacarigua National Racquet Centre, she emerged as a double champion in both the girls’ singles and doubles.

Clarke won the Singles Draw with a 6-0, 7-6 (4) victory over Hannah Chambers of Barbados. In doubles play, she partnered with Riley-Codrington to win the title over American Sifa Butcher and Puerto Rican Ariana Salgueiro-Estela, the No.3 seeds, 1-6, 6-4 (10-7).

Prior to Tobago, Clarke once again reached the final in both draws at the Coca Cola ITF Junior Tennis Tournament in St Lucia.

Clarke began the summer at the JITIC Under-18 Regional Championship in Mexico in June. She reached the second round of the singles and quarterfinals of doubles before elimination. She moved on to the Junkanoo Bowl here in Nassau and reached the quarterfinals of singles play and semi-finals in doubles.

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Haylie Turnquest

5. Haylie Turnquest

Turnquest represented the Bahamas at both the junior and senior levels.

Locally, she won her second consecutive Bahamas Golf Federation junior girls national championship. She went on to the 31st Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships where she helped the Bahamas to a fifth place finish.

Turnquest secured fifth place in her division and finished with a three-day total of 249 (+33). She shot an opening round 82, followed with an 87 and shot a tournament low of 80 in round three.

She was also the top finisher for Team Bahamas at the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships and concluded her four-round total in 11th place.

She shot a final round of 81, a tournament low 74 in round three, a 77 on day two, and an opening day 78 for a total score of 310 (+26).

The team concluded the final round in fourth place in the race for the Hank James trophy, following the three-day competition.

Turnquest and Sophie Anand also went on to represent the Bahamas at the ANNIKA Invitational, Latin America, hosted at the Tortugas Country Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.