Sprinters Jack Howard of the Federated States of Micronesia and Ngerak Florencio of Palau were recognized for their impressive performances in the 2nd Micronesia Athletics Championships and were presented with the Most Outstanding Athlete awards Thursday night at the Oleai Sports Complex.
It was clear that the two dominated the event, as they were nominated by almost all voting representatives from each delegation during a selection meeting after the meet.
Out of the seven delegations, five nominated Howard as the male athlete while all nominated Florencio as the top female performer, resulting in the two going home with wooden carved replicas of the Latte Stone.
Guam’s Justin Andre, who was also a force in the men’s throwing events, had two votes.
Meanwhile, Howard played a key role in grabbing medals for the FSM as he won gold in the 100m and 400m events, anchored the gold medal relay teams, and hauled in a silver in the 200m.
Howard almost missed the event due to academic obligations, which worried FSM coach Elias Rodriguez.
Knowing his athlete may miss the 100m sprint on Tuesday, and thus, will be scratched out of competition, Rodriguez asked Oceania officials to grant Howard the opportunity to compete in the remaining events.
“We were not sure if [Jack] will make it on time, and because he was registered in the event, if he missed it, he will be taken out of all the other events,” Rodriguez said shortly after officials granted his request.
The good news was followed by another as Howard arrived on Saipan on time for the 100m race and took home the gold in a time of 11.18 seconds.
He then played a key role in the FSM’s gold medal finish in the mixed 800m medley relay.
Howard returned strong on Thursday and won the 400m gold in 52.87 seconds before taking home the silver in the 200m after clocking in at 23.05 seconds. He then anchored the FSM 4X100m relay team to a gold medal finish as the team completed the race in 44.60 seconds.
Meanwhile, Florencio swept all events she competed in, taking top honors in the 100m, 200m, and 400m events.
The Palauan Phenom, who currently trains at the High Performance Training Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, was a shoo-in for the award as she also bettered the MAC records in all three events, all of which were previously set by her two years ago in Palau.
The 22-year-old went on turbo mode in the 100m Wednesday and clocked in at 12.89 seconds, breaking her own MAC record of 12.90.
On Thursday, Florencio returned to the track and put on another show as she completed the one-lap 400m race in just 1:03.53, bettering her previous mark of 1:05.20.
She then capped her evening with another record-breaking performance by crossing the finish line of the 200m sprint in just 26.33 seconds. Her previous record was 27.22 seconds.
Andre was also a strong contender for the male award as he won gold and broke the record in the hammer throw, and also took home top honors in the discus and shot put events.