North West Zone, which included recent Carifta Games medallists Shaniqua Bascombe, Dylan Woodruffe, Kayleigh Forde, and Troy Llanos, to name a few, emerged with top honours at the Republic Bank/National Association of Athletics Administrations of T&T (NAAATT) Relay Festival, on Sunday.
They were all part of the excitement which featured teams representing four zones, the others being Tobago, North East and South-Central, making turns with the baton around the track at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
Some 400 athletes raced in 29 relay events at the Festival, which was last held in 2019 but owing to the COVID-19 pandemic had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021.
And at the end of it all, North West was crowned the champion with 242 points followed by North East, in the runners-up position with 202 points, third was South Central with 197 points and Tobago in fourth with 60 points.
Kelvin Nancoo, the coordinator of the North West, was thrilled by the dominant display by the zone, whose colours were white (Team A) and turquoise (Team B).
"I am very happy with the performance of the North-West Team. They were awesome!" said Nancoo, who is the head coach at the Cougars track and field club.
"This was a wonderful team performance and goes to show when you put in the work, what the result could be. I must say that the Games brought out the best in our athletes and the competition was very keen. Anyone who was not at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday missed a treat. That was a memorable day.
"Their performances kept the largest crowd for some time at the facility cheering. The camaraderie between the athletes was excellent and I wish to thank all the coaches of our six clubs for their assistance and support. However, I must thank specifically Donnelle Stafford my assistant for her role in ensuring victory. Thanks again Donnelle and thank you, North-West Zone, you proved you are the best.
"I am, indeed, proud to have been allowed to work with you. Let's keep the T&T flag flying at the upcoming World Youth Championship and the Commonwealth Games."
North West quartet of Forde, Omare Thompson, Aniqah Bailey and Llanos set the tone of the meet, winning the opening race, the mixed 4x800 metres in a time of eight minutes and 55.36 seconds ahead of the North West B team of Shakiah Phillip, Jahfa Woodley, Chantel Le Maitre and Stefan Camejo with 9:27.16 and Tobago's Shaun Parisienne, Zack La Rosa, Angel Davidson and Oshea Cabie with 9:36.83.
Bascombe and her team of Reneisha Andrews, Nickili Lewis and Joshua Williams followed up soon after with victory in the open mixed 800m sprint medley (1x1x2x4) winning with 1:35.38. They beat to the line, respectively, the South Central quartet of Kamaria Durant, Mauricia Prieto, Jeremy Charles and Aaron Cardinez (1:36.76) and the South Central B team of Jaycelle Bailey, Danae David, Shakeel Francis and Tyla Austin (1:37.40).
Bascombe and Andrews were also part of the champion women's 4x100m team which also included Caliyah Wallace and Karessa Kirton. They won in 45.74 ahead of South Central (Danae David, Durant, Kyah La Fortune, Prieto) in 45.52 and North East (Sapphire John, Kadija Pickering, Christiemarie Maharaj, Chelsea Bartholomew) in 48.27.
Woodruffe helped the North West team, which also featured Khadeem Ryan, Tahir Chance and Jamario Russell, nab gold in the boys' Under-17 4x100m with 43.04. North West 'B' (Markey Davis, Joshua Perry, Tyrell Springer, Denzel Williams) copped silver with 44.38 and bronze was bagged by North East (Enoch Joseph, Anderson Barnwell, Daeshaun Cole, Jeremiah Francis) with 44.51.
There were even more closer contested races like in the men's 4x400m but this time it was North East (Jyasi Murray, Avindale Smith, Kirdell Mc Intosh, Kengel Christopher) crossing first with 3:16.09, followed close behind by South Central (Shakeel Francis, Chazz Alexander, Rogill Torres, Nyame Andrews) with 3:16.61 and a far-off third North East Zone 'B' (Nicholas Drayton, Jasiah Franklyn, Jamelle Donald, Elijah Joseph) with 3:22.63.
And of course the final event on day's programme, the men's 4x200m relay, North West's Ariel Kerr, Josiah Wilson, Nickili Lewis and Omari Lewis sprinted to gold in a time of 1:27.20 edging North East team of Christopher, Elijah Joseph, Mc Intosh and Murray (1:27.22) at the line. In third place was South Central (Nyame Andrews, Malachi Heywood, Chazz Alexander, Cyrus Charles) 1:28.14.
Special invitational races for the protective services were included on the schedule and patrons were not disappointed by seeing the local servicemen and women in action. See results below.