Croal wins BVI’s 7th conference double as Gumbs lands 40th overall

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Jaleel Croal is the first BVI collegian to dip under 21.00 secs indoors in the 200m.

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway.

South Florida sprinter Jaleel Croal ran personal bests to win an American Athletics Conference 60 and 200m sprint double on Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama, becoming the 7th BVI athlete to pull off the feat since Northern Arizona’s Tracy Bradshaw started the streak in 1993. On Monday, Northwestern State strongman Djimon Gumbs, used a Shot Put personal best to bag the territory’s 40th overall conference crown since Dean Greenaway won the first in 1979.

Croal, who ran the 60 in 6.65 seconds and the 200m in 20.96—the 1st BVI athlete under 21:00 indoors—joined Northern Arizona’s Bradshaw, who won the Big Sky 55 and 200m in 1993; Minnesota’s Keita Cline, Big 10 Long and Triple Jump, 1995; Portland State’s Karene King, Big Sky 100 and 200m in 2011; St. Thomas University’s Dekoya Hodge, Summit League Shot Put and Javelin Throw, 2019 and Findlay’s Eldred Henry, GMAC Shot Put and Discus Throw, 2019 and Northwestern State’s Djimon Gumbs, Southland Shot Put and Discus Throw, 2022.

“To me, it means a lot. I don’t think the feeling has sunk in, I’ve been saying that all weekend,” Croal , who ran 6.68 and 21.08 seconds to advance, told Island Sun Sports. “People say that the sprint double is the hardest and I agree because of the circumstances this weekend, which was after the 60m, I had about a 25-minute break before the 200m. After running the 60, you put all that power in your legs—your legs feel weird—I was going through that and had to talk to myself to get it done, so it really means a lot.”

He added: “It shows all the work I’ve been putting in, so it’s a very proud moment for me, my family, and also the people who support me.”

Entering the indoor season, Croal’s 200m best was 21.75, after finishing 11th last year, said he lowered his time in every race. His only goal was to get a personal best. “After accomplishing that, I did it again and again and again,” he said 21.51, 21.45, 21.32, 21.08 before the 20.96. “It worked for me. Instead of setting big goals, I set small goals to make myself feel good and it really worked out.”

He said that he has improved his start and has been more consistent with it and also improving his transition, which has helped him drop his times as well as working in the gym. His performances set him up well for outdoors he said.

“I have high expectations for myself because if I can do that indoors, outdoors should be even better because that’s my normal,” he said. “It’s going to be scary. I was mainly trying to get a hang of indoors. Each race, I was trying to figure out how to run the 200m so it’s going to drop more and more to make it harder for the next person.”

Gumbs, the reigning outdoor Shot Put champion, unleashed a 5th round 19.35m (63’6”) heave, to win his first Southland Conference indoor title and fourth overall, for the No 2 mark in conference history behind the 19.85 (65’1½”) mark. In the process, he tied Minnesota’s Cline, who won Long and Triple Jump titles between 1994 and 1995 and Portland State’s King, 100 and 200m crowns in 2011 and 2012, for the most Collegiate conference crowns by BVI athletes. Gumbs’ title brings the BVI’s total to 40 by 20 athletes in 16 different conferences since 1979.

Twin brother Diamante was 5th with a best effort of 16.49m ((54’1¼”), after uncorking a season’s best 19.38m (63’7”), the second best mark of his career in the 35 lbs Weight Throw, to place second.