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Irby and Tuzo retain schools titles in style

On podium: Ashley Irby won the senior girls’, with Brianna Mendes, left, second and Mikaela Outerbridge third (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Saltus pair Ashley Irby and Selah Tuzo retained their senior and middle schools title during the KPMG Front Street Mile races last night.

Irby, who recently qualified for the Carifta Games in the 1500 metres, continued her winning streak in the mile races when she broke the tape in 5:32.76 to land her sixth school title at the age of 15.

Schoolmate Tuzo, who won her first middle school title last year, defended her crown with a strong run though the time of 5:42.69 was well off her winning time of 5:30.23 last year. She led from the start as Taylor White, Jessica Bruton, Koa Goodchild and Shayla Cann all tried to stay close.

In the end, Tuzo won by more than five seconds over White of Bermuda High School (5:47.58) while Bruton of Warwick Academy (5:49.60) was another two seconds back in third in a close finish for second. “I just wanted to finish strongly this year, I’m not feeling well, my throat has been hurting,” Tuzo said. “I’m just glad I could overcome that and finish strong.

“I enjoy running with people who can pressure me and push me to do better. Sometimes in Bermuda you don’t get that and I like the feeling of somebody pushing me.”

Tuzo said she enjoyed the conditions which were good for running.

“It was humid, but I’d rather have it humid than raining, so I liked the conditions tonight,” said Tuzo who was the top qualifier during last month’s trials.

Irby, who had the best qualifying time for the senior girls, lived up to that billing with a good performance after opening a lead early in the race. She remained strong throughout to lead the chasing pack of Brianna Mendes, Mikaela Outerbridge, Jessie Marshall and Messiah Greaves.

“I was trying to start off fast because I didn’t want to get caught up behind people,” the defending champion explained. “I didn’t want to start slow and have to catch up so I tried to go out fast. The weather was much better, no wind and no rain.”

Irby’s winning time was three seconds slower than her winning time of 5:29.32 last year, but even so she was happy with her performance.

“I was looking for a personal best, but it was OK,” said Irby who has a PB of 5:23.63 which she set in the middle school race in 2015.

Kyrah Scraders’ senior school record of 5:19.74 set in 2014 remains intact. Last year Irby won by 11 seconds over Lynsey Palmer, this time she was almost 15 seconds ahead of Mendes in 5:47.16 while Outerbridge, also of Bermuda High School, was third for the second straight year in 5:51.14.

Johndell Cumberbatch, also of Saltus, took the senior boys crown vacated by David Darrell when he ran a smart race to land his first title with a time of 4:57.37. Cumberbatch was almost six seconds ahead of Bermuda Institute’s Robert Edwards (5:03.17) while Isaiah Bell-Phillips completed the podium places, finishing in 5:06.67. Cumberbatch’s job was made a little easier by the absence of top qualifier Quincy Kuzyk who was second to Darrell last year.

“This is my first Front Street Mile, I tried my best to stay at the front of the pack and not fall behind because I knew it would be too hard to catch up,” said the new champion who was just a couple of seconds off last year’s winning time by Darrell.

“I was aware of that and was trying my best to see if I could equal it,” admitted Cumberbatch who won the cross championships in December.

“I expected it to be a little rainy but it was a nice night tonight. When everyone else started to push it I decided to go faster and keep my pace coming down the back stretch.”

Cumberbatch has been encouraged to try out for the Carifta team.

“They said I would be a good addition to the team, I’ve considered it and I think I’d like to do it, the 800 and 1500,” he revealed.

Sancho Smith of TN Tatem took the middle school boys title, winning in 5:09.99, with Tommy Marshall second in 5:12.44 in a photo finish with Nirobi Mills who finished in 5:12.42.

“I was just trying to keep up with the top three or top five and as I got back to the 400 metres mark it got easier,” he explained. “Coming back was the hardest part because I gave it all I had. I would say it is a good time for the Front Street Mile.”

Paris Mitchell Robinson of Elliott, the son of former runner Tiffany Eatherley, made his mom proud as he ran to victory in the primary boys race, clocking 5:47.13. Nayan Grant of Warwick Academy was second in 5:51.54, narrowly beating out Khari Sharieff (5:51.87) in a sprint finish.

“It was tough but I had to do my best because I know my momma won a lot of races,” said the youngster.

Romiah Brangman of West End won the primary girls race with a winning time of 5:56.27. Jasmin Hasselkuss of Somersfield was second in 6:06.43 while Adriana Argent of Warwick Academy was third in 6:09.27.

A moment’s silence was observed at the start of the school races for former Bermuda Olympic Association general secretary Philip Guishard who passed away last summer.