Vincentian track star Brandon Parris continues his winning ways, with an impressive performance for Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) in Raleigh, N.C. in the USC Open indoor track and field meet in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 16.
SAU said Parris, 23, “especially stood out for the Falcons,” the college’s track and field team.
He ran 21.38 in the 200m dash and 47.52 in the 400m dash to move up the NCAA Division II national rankings, SAU said.
It said Parris now ranks sixth in the 200m and eighth in the 400m.
Barbadian Nathan Fergusson also “ran well” for the Falcons, SAU said. His time of 47.69 in the 400 currently ties him for 13th in the nation, SAU said.
It said Fergusson ran 21.57 in the 200 to tie for 21st nationally.
“Both Parris and Fergusson will likely qualify for the national meet in their respective events,” SAU said.
It said other notable performances include Shaquille Dill, of Pembroke, Bermuda in the 800m run. Dill won the race in 1:52.88.
For the women, Amanda Crawford, of Brooklyn, climbed to 10th in the 400m national rankings, with a time of 55.15 at the USC Open, SAU said.
In the UCS Invitational in Winston Salem, N.C., in March 2016, Parris, running for Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. broke the St. Vincent and the Grenadines national record for the 200m by clocking 21.36 sec. in a race that involved five other athletes.
The previous record was set by Parris himself in late January when he ran the 200m in 21.48 sec. for the Claflin Panthers, his university’s athletic team, at the Emory Crossplex Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. In that event, Parris simultaneously broke the Emory Crossplex Invitational record.
Later in 2016, Parris was again in winner’s row at the Savannah State Tiger Relays in Savannah, Ga. The Claflin Panthers relay team, of which Valentine Parris was an integral member, won the 4x800m relay in 8 min. 20 sec. Other members of the team were Odou Hazel, Christopher Hudson and Sixto Ramos.
Parris, who was born on April 17, 1995, was among the first athletes to represent the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its initial bid in the prestigious Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2011. He also represented TSSS at the Penn Relays a year later.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the Penn Relays is coordinated by James Cordice, a former president of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP).
Parris, who was on an athletic scholarship at Claflin University, majoring in Sports Management and Business Administration, was St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Under 14 and Under 15 Male Champ.
Among other events, he has competed in, over the years, are: The World Youth Champs, (France, 2011); World Junior Champs (Barcelona, 2012); World Junior Champs (Eugene, Oregon, 2014); Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland, 2014); NACAC Senior Champs (Costa Rica, 2015); and the men’s 400 meters at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Parris said it was at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he placed 6th in the preliminaries, that the Claflin University coach approached him, offering a track and field scholarship.
In January last year, Parris said he competed in the Eastern Tennessee Invitational Meet, winning his 400m-heat in 47.75 sec. and becoming the fastest qualifier for the finals; he won the finals in 48.34 sec. In the 200m, he won his heat in 21.4 sec., but did not compete in the finals, because his coach wanted him to save his energies for the 400m.
As a junior athlete in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Parris said he initially competed in the 800m and 1,000m, because “basically those are all I could have done at that time.”
He, however, said he switched to sprinting in 2012, when he competed in the 400m in El Salvador at the Central American and Caribbean Junior championship.
Parris also ran the 800m at that meet, but was more successful in the 400m, winning his heat in 48.68 sec. In the 400m finals, he placed 6th “because of sickness and injuries.”
Locally, Parris said he is a senior member of the I.T. – D.A.T. Track Club, owned and coached by regionally-renowned athletic coach Michael “Lord Have Mercy” Ollivierre.
His mother, Lesanne Valentine, who he considers to be his greatest fan, resides in Sion Hill, Kingstown, the Vincentian capital. His dad is Barbadian Franklyn Parris.
On completion of his university studies, Parris said he aspires to become an athletics director.