The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia: Ricks Institute Sweeps Accolades

Ricks Institute, popular for their track and field prowess, has again lived up to that profile by clinching the title in the 2012 edition of the National High School Athletics Championship held at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville.

Ricks Institute scooped 66 points, the highest in all track and field events with enterprising young star Queenela Jackson leading the onslaught.

Jackson won Gold in the 100 meter women final with a finish time of 13.06 seconds, while Garetha Garteh finished first for Ricks in the 200 meter women final with a time of 28.50.

Other champions for Ricks in the 3rd edition of the National High School Athletics Championships include 800 meter - Helena Folly, 2.53; Patrick Dahn, 23.04 in the Men's 200 meter final and Gibson Michael - 4.53 in the 1500 meter men's final.

In the field events, Charles Gbelia struck a distance of 11.2 in the Shot-Put to finish as Gold Medalist.

Garetha Garteh ended in 2nd place in the High Jump. 2nd and 3rd place positions in all of the events were also a contributing factor to Ricks emerging Championship.

Kingdom Foundation Institute owned and operated by a BWI ex-sprinter Jonathan Enders was presented a huge Silver trophy as they finished as runners up with 51 points, while Jimmy Jolocon High School collected the Bronze trophy in 3rd place.

Kadmiel Elders; Liberia's 16-year old Gold Medalist at the ECOWAS games staged in Accra this year, was again outstanding in his High Jump category of the field events. Kadmiel finished 1st, followed by William Sawboe from Jimmy Jolocon.

Kingdom Foundation Institute (KFI) also won the first place in the 4x100 meter women relay final with a finish time of 4 minutes 56 seconds.

KFI had a number of 2nd and 3rd place finishes that summed up their grand total of 51 points. For Jimmy Jolocon, they managed to walk away with the Bronze trophy with 41 points, resulting from great performances by their athletes in both track and field events, but their top-rate Lucy Massaquoi who is defending the women's 5,000 meter championship title for the 2nd year running, put up the best highlight display on the tracks on Saturday afternoon.

Lucy, 16, clocked 21 minutes 0.1 seconds to win Gold Medal to the disbelief of many in the cheering stands. Kingdom Foundation's 13-year old Henrina Roberts recorded 23 minutes 49 seconds to finish 2nd while the bronze medal went to Wyehen Cooper of Ricks Institute with 25.43 finish time.

The full run-down of the medal table stood like this: Ricks Institute - 66 Points, Kingdom Foundation Institute - 51, Jimmy Jolocon - 41, VOA-1 Academy - 19, Lott Carey - 7, Kpallah Public School - 5, Len Miller - 3, A. Glen Public School - 1 Point, J.J. Roberts - 1 and William Booth (Salvation Army) - 0 Point.

At the official closing ceremony, former Deputy Minister for Sports Marbue Richards was decorated with a glittering Gold Medal, presented on behalf of the IAAF President Lamin Ndiaye by Winston Cole, Secretary General of the Liberia Athletics Federation (LAF).

In brief remarks, Mr. Cole praised the assiduous efforts of Mr. Richards in establishing the national competition amongst high school students aspiring for a career in athletics.

"This competition you see us hosting successfully today is a brainchild of former Deputy Sports Minister Marbue Richards, and we are so proud of him for the innovation. That's why we singled him out as one of 4 persons that the IAAF recognized globally this year as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Olympic movement," S.G Cole asserted.

Immediately upon taking delivery of the Gold Medal with the official logo and inscriptions of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Mr. Richards could not hold back words of appreciation as he spoke cherishingly of the distinction bestowed on him by the IAAF through the LAF.

Richards, now running a grassroots Football development program in Harbel, Margibi County, called on the LAF leadership headed by Mulbah Zayzay, to keep the torch of the National High School Athletics Championships burning, as in his words, "it is the best way of producing topnotch athletes for any country.

"A recent documentary I watched made me to know that the Jamaican great Usain Bolt has a rich background of high school competition so there where he was developed and we all can see his progress today on the big world stage," Marbue Richards said.

Marbue, however, expressed some degree of disappointment that the Football component of high school national sports programs he put in place months before vacating office is yet to hit fruition by the current team of the sports bureau at the Youth and Sports Ministry, headed by ex-Footballer Dionysius Sebwe.

Speaking on behalf of school administrators, Ricks Institute Sports Director Henry Askie also rained words of commendations on Marbue Richards and said the honor given was overdue.

Mr. Askie also called on stakeholders from other sporting disciplines to take off time to be at the high school athletics games each year because, according to him, this will inform them in some way to put in place similar event if Liberia must produce academically prepared athletes.

Liberia Athletics Head-Coach Frederick Massaquoi disclosed that the Kingdom Foundation Institute has filed a protest against the eligibility of two players.

Coach Mass, as he's affectionately called by athletics enthusiasts, said in this sporting discipline (Athletics or Track & Field), a protest pending investigation is immaterial to the holding of the official closing ceremony and the subsequent awarding of championship laurels.

The IAAF-trained Liberian Athletics Coach did not divulge the names of players whose participation in this year's NHSAC has come under strong protest by the Kingdom Foundation Institute who think they should not have finished runners-up to the Ricks Institute.

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