In their eighth outing at the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) girls broke the school’s record for the 4 x 400m.
Competing in their heat on Thursday, May 2, the girls clocked 4 min., 5.7 sec., in placing second and eclipsing the school’s previous record of 4 min., 6 sec. in the 4 x 400m.
The team comprised Tiwanny John, Shahalia Lynch, Daniella Lewis and Kaylia Edwards.
“It was a great performance, even though they didn’t get first place in their event,” James Cordice, the Philadelphia-based coordinator of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Penn Relays initiative told Caribbean Life afterwards.
“The effort put in is what counts to me,” he added. “They were running against giants. Their journey is not an easy one either, and I even applaud them for even having the nerve to compete.”
In the 4 x 100m, also on Thursday, the TSSS girls’ team of Almarie Providence, Lynch, Lewis and Edwards, placed 6th among nine schools, clocking 51.17 sec.
Their performance, however, enabled them to qualify for the 4 x 100m inaugural International B Finals. In that event, the team remained the same, except for John, who replaced Edwards.
The boys’ team, competing in the Penn Relays for the ninth consecutive years, placed 3rd in the 4 x 400m on Saturday, clocking 3 min., 35.56 sec.
The team, which competed against 14 other top-ranked United States schools, comprised Zamal Creese, Uroy Ryan, Zimri Stephenson and Dawson Samuel.
On Friday, May 3 the TSSS’ boys — Myron Matthews, Stephenson, Samuel and Ryan — placed fourth in the 4 x 100m, clocking 44.62 sec.
Head Coach Godfrey “Fuzzy” Harry told Caribbean Life that injury to one of the female athletes, at the recently-concluded CARIFTA games, significantly affected the performance of the female teams.
“This was not the best position of both teams,” he said, “but we must commend the effort, especially for the female team, which has just established a new school record.”
After missing the Penn Relays in 2017, the TSSS girls’ team returned last year in winning their 4 x 400m heat in 4 min., 6.94 sec.
The TSSS has been the pioneer in representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Penn Relays in the inaugural year in 2011.
Three years ago, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Grammar School joined TSSS, bringing to two the number of Vincentian secondary schools competing in the prestigious event.
“We did a good account of our ourselves,” Harry told a reception Saturday night for the Vincentian athletes, as well as for a Belizean high school team, at the Vincentian-owned Calabash Restaurant and Lounge on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia.
“Never second guess yourself,” he added. “When we came in 2011, we were not disheartened.”
He, however, said it’s a huge challenge, financially, to compete in the Penn Relays.
“The athletes have to raise the money to get things done,” Harry said. “With the grace of the Almighty, we’ll be back here next year (for the school’s 10th anniversary in competing in the Penn Relays.”
Vincentian judge Emille Cox, who served as master of ceremonies Saturday night, May 4 and was considered a top athlete in his years at the Grammar School, told the athletes: “You never know what you’re capable of.
“Don’t defeat yourself,” he advised. “Tell yourself that you’re just as good and better, and just move ahead.
“Some of the schools you’re competing against their athletic budget is greater than our (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) national budget,” Judge Cox continued.