Record-holders Yvonne Bennett and Lia Rangamar have been added to the CNMI Team, beefing up the Commonwealth's roster in the Oceania Regional Championships 2012 that will kick off tomorrow at the Barlow Park in Cairns, Australia.
Northern Marianas Athletics official Elias Rangamar said Bennett was included on the Commonwealth's roster after getting clearance from her school (Boise State University) where she is a member of the women's track team, while Rangamar also made the list after fixing some glitch in her school and work schedule. Bennett just arrived from Idaho last Saturday and joined Lia Rangamar, Rachel Abrams, Reylynn Sapong, Beo Ngirchongor, Michael Mancao, and Orrin Pharmin, on a connecting flight from Guam to Australia last Sunday.
“With Yvonne joining the squad, she will provide the needed leadership for our young team. Both Yvonne and Lia had been through the Oceania championships, so they knew what type of competition they are up to,” Elias Rangamar said.
“With Yvonne and Lia going to Australia, we have a strong team in both the women's relay and mixed. NMA is really excited how our team will perform in the relays,” he added.
Yvonne joined the championship last year in Apia, Samoa and advanced to the finals of all three races (100m, 200m, and 400m) she competed it, shattered records, and won one gold medal and two bronze. She set the CNMI and Micronesian records in the 100m (12.52 seconds) and 200m (25.67 seconds) races and claimed bronze medals in these sprint events. In the 400m, she missed her personal best and CNMI mark (57.14 seconds) after posting 57.66 seconds, but won the gold medal in her longest race in the 2011 competition.
Lia debuted in the championship in 2010, joining the U20 division and winning a silver medal in the javelin throw. Her 35.17m in the women's javelin throw also eclipsed the 29-year-old CNMI national record of Emiliana Quitugua, who posted 34.68m in the first Pacific Mini Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 1981.
This year, Lia will be the first CNMI athlete to compete in 2012 edition of the annual event, as she will participate in the javelin throw for U20 division tomorrow, battling New Zealand's Tori Peeters, Australia's Tori West, and Norfolk Island's Brianna Stephens.
Bennett will also compete on the first day of the championship, racing in the 200m run against Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Niue, and Papua New Guinea runners.
“Yvonne just finished her season with BSU last month, so she still has the momentum although she is a bit tired. She will have only two races, so I know she is up to it,” Bennett said.