Success stories recalled


From left, Saipan International School’s Isabel Dickinson, Anika Snyder, Tania Tan, and Malika Miyawaki enjoy a light moment before competing in the 4x100m relay race in the 2017 Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships at the Hopwood Middle School grounds. (Contributed Photo)

By this time, sans the COVID-19 crisis, Northern Marianas Athletics would have started the qualifying events for the Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships.

The annual meet for elementary, middle school, and high school students along with several other sports competitions have been either suspended or canceled in response to the CNMI government’s call to avoid holding events that draw crowds to decrease the risk of the potential spread of the deadly coronavirus in the Commonwealth. This move and other safety measures will remain in effect until further notice and with student-athletes uncertain whether they will be able to step into the Oleai Sports Complex’s track and field facility or not this season, Saipan Tribune looked back at the experiences of individuals who had been or are still part of one of the most successful grassroots sports programs in the CNMI.

In this May 2011 file photo, Rachel Abrams competes in the 100m race in the Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships at the Oleai Sports Complex track oval. (Saipan Tribune)

Rachel Abrams debuted in the All Schools when she was in second grade at the Koblerville Elementary School and she smoked the competition in her first try while running on the wrong lane.

“My most memorable school meet would have to be my first meet. I was 2nd grade at Koblerville and I was very nervous and excited to run,” Abrams said.

“I remember asking the gun starter where to stand and where’s the finish line and he told me just keep running. I was so excited that I think I ended up running on the wrong lane, but it didn’t matter because I ran so fast that I didn’t interfere with the other runner. After feeling the rush of the adrenaline pumping and coming out in first place I knew that track was something that I wanted to keep doing,” added Abrams, who was also into high jump besides doing sprints back then.

The former Umang later became a perennial member of the CNMI National Team, as she represented the Commonwealth in the 2014 and 2018 Micronesian Games, 2011 Pacific Games, 2012 and 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships and 2012 IAFF World Junior Championships.

Another athlete who donned CNMI colors in regional competitions, Tania Tan, picked the 2017 edition of the All Schools meet as the most memorable one—even though they had to race in the dusty and make-shift track at the Hopwood Middle School grounds.

“It was my sophomore year. It was my most memorable because I remember I trained hard because I ran cross country for the first time during that school year and just started running, so I wanted to do even better during track season,” said Tan, who won medals for the CNMI in the middle distance races in the 2018 Micronesian Regional Championships.

“In the end, it paid off when I won the 800m, 1500m, and 3,000m events and came in second in the 400m event. Our 4x400m relay team (Saipan International School) also came in first and I got to run it with three of my good friends: Isabel Dickinson, Malika Miyawaki, and Anika Snyder. Our team that year was one of the strongest and I had a lot of fun running with them,” the Fordham University cross country team member said.

Ron Snyder coached Tan and company and is a busy man every track season. Snyder and the Geckos had numerous successes in the various age group competitions in the All Schools in the past several years, but more than winning races, what left a mark in him was the athletes and organizers’ determination to go ahead with the event despite the logistical challenges.

“Being a mid-distance/ long distance specialist, I think I have to go to last year’s meet. Yutu had destroyed the overhead lights and it was dark already. But the coaches decided to move forward with the 3,000m,” the SIS headmaster said.

“We drove our cars and trucks all around the track and the athletes raced along the track by car lights. What a great example of grit from our students and creative problem solving from the coaches and NMA,” Snyder added.

Runners get ready at the starting line during last year’s Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships at the Oleai Sports Complex track oval. This year’s All Schools qualifiers are on hold due to the COVID-19. (Contributed Photo)

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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