BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats track and field program has quietly put together a decent outdoor season.
The program has eight gold medals, 117 top 10 finishes and 29 athletes (12 women and 17 men) qualified for the MEAC Championships.
“Right now we are gearing up for conference. We are getting people healthy who are performing well. Our veterans are stepping up and our youngsters are contributing,” said Donald Cooper, B-CU’s head track and field coach.
The program recently brought home three gold medals and 24 top-10 finishes at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational at the University of Miami in Coral Gables on April 13.
It included Barry Kimbrough (14.78m/48-6 ft.) who won the shot put; junior Saint Preux (54.42), who took the 400m hurdles; and the men’s 4×100 relay team (Tremayne Banks, Angelo Cabrera, Darnell Washington, Saint Preux/40.95), who took home a first-place finish.
Success in Nassau
The Wildcats also had three first-place finishes and 22 top-10 finishes at the College of Bahamas Invitational in Nassau, Bahamas from April 5-9.
There Deidra Jordan (15.22) won the 100m hurdles, Tristie Johnson (11.80) the 100m dash while the men won the 4×400 relay (Tremayne Banks, junior Saint Preux, Darnell Washington and Curtis Riggins) at 3:29.20.
“We finally had some good weather. Coaches have done a great job of keeping our kids prepared as well as our training staff. Our kids are getting the resources that they need. The team has been focused and performed for the most part,” commented Cooper.
The program has been led by senior women’s distance runner Kadian Dunkley and junior male thrower Keron Stoute.
“Kadian is a junior college transfer with a great effort, but there is a lot more in the tank for her. She is kind of conservative when going after it but she is performing at a high level,” said Cooper. “Stoute is another junior college transfer who has had some outstanding performances. He also has a tremendous work ethic.”
The coaches also are high on freshman sprinter Tristie Johnson.
“Tristian Thompson has been able to show that she is one of the elite sprinters in our conference. She is way ahead of where she was a year ago. We expect her to do well and qualify for Nationals,” added Cooper.
Championships in May
Cooper has only been heading the program for the past three seasons, but is pleased with the progress being made.
During the indoor season, the men placed third and the women fifth at the MEAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“We have been able to attract some good talent and develop it to move us where we want to be. We have had some walk-ons that have been tremendous for us. We have also had the support from the administration,” expressed Cooper.
The program is hoping to build steam heading toward the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships (May 1-4).
The program wants to have athletes make the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Preliminaries (May 22-23) and later the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (June 5-8).
“We will have more development and progression. We want to be a perennial top-three team in the conference. We want to always compete for a MEAC championship and compete in our region. We are making the right steps. On the flip side, we haven’t been able to attract the international talent but we are working on it,” Cooper told the Daytona Times.
B-CU will next compete in the Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kansas from April 18-20.
Baseball: Wildcats still playing well
From April 9-14, the Wildcats went 3-1, picking up two wins over North Carolina Central and another over Jacksonville.
The Wildcats (22-18, 12-6) have won nine of their last 10 games dating back to March 31, which included a seven-game win streak from April 3-13. They lead the MEAC Southern Division.
David Lee went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and Matt Noble 3-for-4 while Byron Ferguson (2-2) picked up the win on the mound in relief and Jordan Dailey (7) the save in a 5-2 win over Jacksonville on April 9.
Anthony Stokes and Eros Modena each had two hits with an RBI while Scott Garner (4-4) got the win and Chris Waltermire the save in a 4-2 win over the North Carolina team on April 13. The Eagles beat the Wildcats 10-0 in the second game of a double header that day.
Modena was 2-for-4 with four RBIs to lead the Wildcats charge in a 9-2 win over the Eagles in the series finale on Sunday. Montana Durupau (6-3) also got the win on the mound for B-CU.
B-CU traveled to Miami to face Florida International on Tuesday night and Coral Gables to play Miami on Wednesday.
The Wildcats host North Carolina A&T in a three-game series on April 20-21 in Sanford. B-CU plays its final eight games on the road, including five in Florida.
Inaugural clinic held for women
Bethune-Cookman will hold its spring showcase (spring game) at News Smyrna Beach Airport Stadium on April 20.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and admission is $1 with all proceeds going to New Smyrna Beach’s Pop Warner program.
The Wildcats held their inaugural Women’s Football Clinic at the Larry R. Handfield Athletic Training Center on April 13.
More than 20 women participate in the event, which included lectures, drills, skills and a tutorial speech from Brian Jenkins, B-CU’s head football coach.
“A lot of our female fans asked when would we do something for the women in the past, so we did this,” Jenkins said.