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PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A squad of 11 students and four staff members from the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are currently in Pennsylvania, USA to participate in the 2012 Penn Relay Carnival.

The event has been existence since 1895 and attracts over 20,000 participants and represents one of the major athletics events in the world.

The participation by TSSS boys’ team at Penn in 2011 was historic as it was the first team from SVG participated.

This year, SVG is being represented by a girls’ team for the first time as Rossania Stephens, Nicky Ann Stephens, Kerina Hooper, Maranda Spencer and Shafiqua Maloney make it another historic first this year.

“For years members of the Vincentian diaspora in the USA have longed to be able to support a team from their own country and our participation is the continuation of a dream come true for them,” according to squad manager, Paulette Williams.

On Thursday, the female team will compete in the 4X100m at 11:10 and again at 3:00 for the 4x400m relays.

The management team also comprises Godfrey Harry, coach; Kamal Hunte, assistant coach; and Dawana Balcombe, chaperone.

The games run from April 26 to 28.

Athletes’ profiles

brandon e28098thamachine parris
Brandon ‘Tha Machine’ Parris

Brandon ‘Tha Machine’ Parris is already making his name knows on the track circuit at home and abroad. The fifth former, who celebrated his 17th birthday on April 17, hails from the Fair Hall/Glen community. Brandon has chalked up an impressive list of championship appearances, including the IAAF World Youth Championships in Paris in 2011, the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in Isle of Man and the 2011 Junior Pan Am Games in Miramar, Florida. The easy striding Parris is a middle-long distance runner who is not shy about tackling the sprints should the need arise. On his second Penn outing, he should prove an asset to the team headed for Pennsylvania.

ronique e28098sweetbread dowers
Ronique ‘Sweetbread’ Dowers

Ronique ‘Sweetbread’ Dowers, a 19-year-old fifth former, hails from Diamond. This is his second trip to the prestigious Penn Relays, as he was a member of the team that made the historic first trip in 2011. A multi-faceted athlete, Ronique’s experience as well as his discipline on and off the field of competition will serve the team well in Pennsylvania.

Fifth form student, Desron “Gappy” Wilson, hails from the Central Kingstown community of Redemption Sharpes. An up and coming middle distance specialist, the lanky 15-year-old makes his maiden trip to the Penn Relays following his noteworthy performances on the track and in the long jump pit, at the recent Inter Secondary Schools Sports.

desron e28098gappy wilson
Desron ‘Gappy’ Wilson

Maranda Spencer, a jovial 16-year-old from Layou in Central Leeward, has her sights on a track scholarship. This skilled netballer is hoping that if she shines at the Penn Relays, she could very well catch the eyes of a scout or two and, who knows…

Fifth form sprinter Kezlon Providence hails from the East Kingstown community of Sion Hill. Coming from a commendable performance at the 2012 Inter Secondary Schools Track and Field Championship, Kezlon is looking to give a good account of himself as he represents Thomas Saunders Secondary School and by extension SVG abroad for the second time. TSSS head- boy 17-year-old Shaquille Browne is no

maranda spencer
Maranda Spencer

stranger to the limelight, having represented TSSS, SVG and the Windward Islands as an outstanding youth cricketer at home and abroad. This time the multitalented Form 5-Business student, who resides in the East Kingstown community of Cane Garden, brings a combination of experience, commitment and discipline to the team headed to Pennsylvania.

From the Central Kingstown district of Montrose comes 16-year-old Abiola K.Z. Hinds. The Form 5 Arts student is another of Thomas Saunders’s multifaceted young athletes. He is expected to boost the fortunes of the sprint relay team at the Penn Relays.

abiola k z hinds
Abiola K.Z. Hinds

TSSS head girl, 16-year old Rossania Stephens captained SVG’s Under-16 netball team at the OECS championship in St Kitts in 2011. This year she leads the first female team ever to represent SVG at the prestigious Penn Relays. A daughter of the South Leeward community of Campden Park, this Form 5 Arts student is travelling abroad to represent her school for the second time this year.

Kerina Hooper, left, hails from the Park Hill community. The 14-year old third former was named intermediate champ at the just concluded Inter secondary schools sports. One of the youngest members of the team, Kerina is already known for her dogged determination and drive.

rossania stephens
Rossania Stephens

Sixteen-year-old Nicky-Ann Stephens is a fourth-former at the Thomas Saunders Secondary School. The lanky lass, who hails from the Central Leeward village of Buccament, has represented SVG at several regional and international meets, including the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man. She was named Victrix Ludorum following the just concluded 2012 Inter Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships. An outstanding athlete, Nicky-Ann will add depth and maturity to the Penn Relays team.

Thirteen-year- old second former Shafiqua Maloney of Richland Park in the Marriaqua Valley is the youngest member of the team. She was named most outstanding female athlete in the junior division of the 2012 Inter Secondary Schools Track and Field Championship. A talented all-rounder, she plays football, netball and runs sprints and middle distance events. She is expecting that this will be the first of many trips she will make to the prestigious Penn Relays.

kerina hooper1
From left: Kerina Hooper, Nicky-Ann Stephens, Shafiqua Maloney.

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