Dill romps to NCAA Division II 800 title
Shaquille Dill upset the form guide to storm to the 800 metres title at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday.
The St Augustine’s sophomore paced his race perfectly, making his move in the final 200 metres to win convincingly in 1min 49.96sec.
Dill, the outdoor champion last year, was ranked only eighth coming into the final, with fellow Bermudian Dage Minors third.
But Minors, out of Franklin Pierce, was hardly in the race, losing his positioning at midpoint and having to negotiate a wide final turn.
This allowed Dill to sprint clear, with fast starter Dejon Devore of Shorter, falling through the field like a lead balloon.
Luis Romero, the defending champion from Tamu-Commerce, was a fast-finishing second in 1:50.12, with Dill’s team-mate Immanuel Hutchinson third in 1:50.23. Minors was exactly half a second back in fourth 1:50.73.
Dill, who also helped his team win the 4x400 relay, won the outdoor 800 at the IMG Academy Track and Field Stadium in Bradenton, Florida, in May last year.
He posted a time of 1:49.30 and helped Saint Augustine’s University win the overall men’s title with 85 points.
Dill represented Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015.
Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, described Dill as an athlete who “always rises to the big occasion”.
“I’m pretty excited about Shaquille’s victory,” Raynor said.
“Shaquille rises to the occasion for big meets — we have seen it over and over. I’m also happy to see that he only ran the 800 and not like last year when he ran 400 and the 800 immediately after. He was able to concentrate and focus on his main event.
“That was a good time for indoors and I’m looking for some great things from him in the outdoor season.”
Raynor said she was thrilled to watch two Bermudians compete in a final.
“I must say I was sitting on the edge of my seat watching him and Dage run that race,” she added. “They both gave 100 per cent. How often do you get to see two Bermudians racing each other in a NCAA championships?”
“I’m so proud of Shaquille and Dage for qualifying and making it to the finals. It was a great job from both of them.”
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