Dawson gets redemption in winning JUCO Long Jump crown

New Mexico Jr. College’s Khybah Dawson, displays his Western Field Athlete of the Year award, after winning Jr. College’s Long Jump title.

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway.

On his first Long Jump attempt at the National Jr. College’s Indoor Championships in 2023, New Mexico Jr. College’s Khybah Dawson collapsed in agony and disappointment, when he was injured on the jump that measured 5.94m (19’4¾”). He later recovered and went on to finish second in the outdoor championships, with a personal best leap of 7.84m (25’8¾”).

Instead of joining fellow BVI athletes at home for the Christmas holidays, he stayed in New Mexico to train and the sacrifices have paid off.

On Friday, in route to becoming the 11th BVI athlete winning a National Jr. College Championships individual crown, Dawson broke the facility record when he cut the sand at a season’s best 7.73m (25’4¼”). He capped off his championships by collecting the Western Field Athletes of the Year award, after being tied with 7.71m (25’3½”) for the best Jr. College mark heading into nationals. He became the 16th  BVI athlete who has combined to win 27 Jr. College All American honors since 1996.

Dawson, whose contribution helped New Mexico to a second place finish behind Indian Hills with 84 points, described going to nationals as a ‘business trip.’

“I went into nationals knowing what happened last year when I got injured and I wanted to go out there and get some redemption,” Dawson told Island Sun Sports. “It was like I had a chip on my shoulder going into nationals, knowing what I came to do.”

He described his 7.50m (24’7¼”) opener that led the competition as a ‘bad performance’ because he knew what he could do, then proceeded to foul the next three jumps, and was passed by Pima’s Raekwon Weatherspoon.

“I think I lost momentum when I fouled the three jumps back to back and me and my coach were trying to figure out how to fix it,” he explained. “When I was passed, it really put a lot of pressure on me, but we kept moving back my mark by a step every time I fouled. On the fourth jump, he said not to move back and ‘fix it.’ Hitting that jump, (7.63m 25’0½”) made me feel good but I didn’t feel comfortable, because I knew he had to jump after me on my last attempt, so I had to put more pressure on him.”

Witherspoon fouled his last two attempts while Dawson closed his series with a season’s best 7.73m (25’4¼”).  

“It means a lot, like I actually worked towards what I wanted to do this year, although it’s not finished,” he said of the national title. “I had that chip on my shoulder going in as all I wanted to do was to win, so it feels amazing to actually go into the event and win.”

Before heading to the track on Saturday morning, Dawson received a text from his coach that we would be collecting the Jr. Colleges Western Division Field Athlete of the Year Award.

“It was a really big surprise to me because I forgot about the award,” he noted. “It proves that I’ve been putting in the work. All the sacrifices I made during the off season and in the season, it shows that it’s paying off.”

Heading into the outdoor season, Dawson said he now has a ‘target on his back.’ “My mentality has already changed to that,” he pointed out. “I have to outwork everybody because now, everyone’s trying to outwork me, to be able to beat me. I can’t be comfortable. I have to still  push and not be okay with what I have right now. I still want more.”

Also at nationals, Barton’s Wanyae Bell, recorded non advancing times of 6.85 and 21.60 seconds respectively in the 60 and 200m. Indian Hills CC’s Kenyatta Grate, a 2023 Carifta Games U20 Girls 200m silver medallist, ran an indoor personal best of 24.64 seconds in her specialty.

Competing in the NAIA Indoor Nationals, Khamauri Crabbe, Malik John and M’Khori Crabbe, combined with Maxwell Maeisis to finish 3rd in the 4×4 relay in 3 minutes, 11.88 seconds and earn All American honors for St. Thomas University. In the 400m, Khamauri recorded a time of 49.21 seconds and John ran 1:26.56 in the 600m, but neither advanced.

Rikkoi Brathwaite advanced to his second World Indoor Championships  60m semi-final, where he ran a season’s best 6.60 seconds, after running 6.62 to advance. Beyonce DeFreitas had a non-advancing 7.44 time in her 60m prelim.