“This year’s outstanding freshman for the indoor and outdoor season goes to Tia-Adana Belle,” track and field Head Coach George Williams announced at Saint Augustine’s University’s Athletic Cookout on April 21st. The track and field team cheered on Belle, along with other athletes from Falcon athletics, as she moved from the bleachers to the gym floor to receive her award. The University’s acting president, Dr. Ronald Brown, and Head Coach, George Williams congratulated the freshman 400m hurdler with a plaque and took a picture with Belle for a keepsake. Before returning to her seat, Williams added, “This freshman is now ranked 2nd in Division II track and field in the 400m hurdles and we could not be more proud.” The St. George, Barbados native stood proud as her teammates began to celebrate and chant, “Heartbeat.”
Belle, a Criminal Justice major, chose SAU after numerous visits at American Division I schools because, “It just felt right. My high school coach, Gabriel Burnett, went here and had success in track. So my goal is to come here and be successful too.” Belle started off the outdoor track season at Raleigh Relays on March 28th with a 3rd place finish to first place finisher and professional hurdler, Yanique Haye, and fellow CIAA Johnson C. Smith competitor, Samantha Elliot, who placed 2nd. “I feel like I started my season strong with a 59.7, but I wanted to run faster times to be more competitive and represent St. Aug better,” Belle said. The Lady Falcons competed at the 2014 CIAA Outdoor Championships on April 18th-19th in Petersburg, VA at CIAA school, Virginia State. Belle helped her team with competing in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay; she represented St. Aug placing first in 58.7 seconds, a faster time and season best in the 400m hurdles and placed a close second in the 4x400m with teammates Brittany Brown, Akeisha Dumont and Cherrisse Lynch. The Lady Falcons finished 2nd overall after CIAA championship competition with 122 points to Johnson C. Smith’s 123 points. Coach Williams expressed, “The women have been working hard all season. We always strive to win, but with most of the team hurt, we were lucky to get 2nd place.”
After CIAA Championship competition, Falcon athletes traditionally prepare for an awards banquet to honor their academic and athletic achievements during the school year. This year, however, the athletes were treated to a special cookout held in Emery Gymnasium. Shirts that read, “Once a Falcon, Always a Falcon” were given to athletes to wear at the cookout. Assistant Athletic Director, Kristene Kelly said, “We wanted to have a more relaxed banquet this year. The track team, softball and baseball teams are just coming back from CIAA championships and we wanted to celebrate their efforts as well as have something fun for all the student-athletes.” For the spring sports, the Lady Falcons softball team lost to the Lady Rams of Winston-Salem State University with a final score of 5-4 in the CIAA Championship finals. The Falcon baseball team lost 6-5, after 15-innings to the Rams of Winston-Salem State University in the 2nd round of CIAA tournament. The Lady Falcons track team scored 122 points and finished 2nd to Johnson C. Smith and the Falcons won their 17th consecutive CIAA track title, scoring 193 points.
At the cookout, the student-athletes got the chance to unwind with games like tug of war, dodge ball, and sack racing and enjoyed cookout food prepared by ABL Catering services. Awards were given out to athletes for MVP, Best Freshman, Most Improved and Highest GPA. Senior sprinter Jermaine Jones enjoyed his last banquet, “I wish the banquet was always like this. Sometimes we don’t feel like dressing up. This brought all the athletes together in a fun and more athletic way.”
— Brittany G. Brown