By Nwamere Donald
Nigeria’s college athletes had an eventful weekend at the NAIA and NJCAA Championships in South Dakota and Lynchburg, Virginia respectively.
Starting with the NAIA champs, Sarah Olamide of Oklahoma City College had an impressive outing, running a personal best (PB) of 5:04.65 in the heat of the women’s 1-mile event. Going into the final as one of the fastest with the 10th-fastest time overall, Sarah finished in 10th place with a time of 5:16.93.
The William Carey squad of Aniekeme Etim, Adebakin Toluwani, Abu Joy, and Ineh Emmanuel Oritsemeyiwa all had quite an impressive performance at the NAIA.
Aniekeme Etim Alphonsus, who defended her title for the second time, was a star performer. Having run a PB of 7.30s in the heat of the women’s 60m dash, she also won the 200m heat with a time of 23.81s. With such impeccable form, she came back in the final with renewed vigour to seal the win in the 60m and 200m with blistering times of 7.30s and 23.68s respectively to be crowned a double NAIA champion.
Another top-notch performer was Ineh Emmanuel Oritsemeyiwa who, within a few weeks of being a freshman and new to the collegiate system has become a force to reckon with, winning the men’s long jump with a leap of 7.58m and being crowned with the NJCAA title.
Moving on to the quarter milers; though he didn’t make the finals of the men’s 400m, Toluwani Adebakin ran quite an impressive race in the heat to finish 3rd with a season-best (SB) of 48.48s, and later teamed up with his school 4x400m relay team to win the national title in 3:13.56.
On the other hand Abu Joy, who is also a freshman at William Carey University, competed in the women’s 400m. Known as a 400m hurdler back here in Nigeria, she finished 3rd in the heat with a time of 56.61s. Finding an extra boost, Joy raced to a PB of 55.94s, finishing in 6th place. Then, joining forces with Aniekeme, Jasmine, and Jezelle, they raced to a new school personal best of 3:45.58, winning the NAIA title.
The NJCAA Championship saw the Cloud County Community College school record fall at the hands of Mercy Ntiaobong, who ran a time of 7.46s in the heat of the women’s 60m dash, before going on to finish in second place in the finals with a time of 7.42s. Coming into the 200m as one of the favourites, Mercy cruised to 23.78s, taking heat 6 of the women’s 200m; she then posted 23.68s in the final to finish 2nd behind Ayla Stanisclaus of New Mexico College.
In the same event, Rosemary Chukwuma ran 7.47s in the heats and went on to finish 6th in the finals (7.51s). Hungry for a podium finish, Rosemary took the heat 3 of the women’s 200m in 23.97s and gave it all she had in the finals to finish in 3rd place with 23.81s behind Ntiaobong.
Coming into the NJCAA as the West Region Field Athlete of the year, Onaara Obamuwagun competed in the women’s long jump and finished just outside the podium with a best jump of 5.86m. Not deterred by her 4th place finish, Onaara took the bull by the horn in the women’s triple jump, claiming the NJCAA title with a best leap of 12.82m. Not a personal best, but it was just enough to claim victory.
New Mexico Junior College’s Victor Akhalu (freshman) claimed victory in the men’s 400m, powering home and stopping the clock in a PB of 47.35s. Coming from the heats, Victor had posted an easy 48.14s to qualify for the final.
Finally in the NJCAA Championship roundup is BSC Virginia’s freshman Tracy Idugboe, who competed in the women’s 400m and finished in 2nd place in her heat with 57.98s but could not advance to the finals. She also competed in the women’s triple jump event that was won by Obamuwagun (12.82m), finishing just outside the podium in 4th place with a best jump of 11.96m (PB).
These athletes will be looking forward to the outdoor season by April and would be hoping to record ground-breaking performances.