Two members of the St. John’s University track and field team are headed to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 8-11. Claire Mooney qualified in the 800 meters and Stephanie Van Pelt in the 1,500.
Although the spring semester is over, track season isn’t done. In addition to the NCAA Championships, Mooney, Pariis Garcia and Maya Stephens all have Olympic aspirations and are trying to achieve times to qualify for their respective countries’ teams (Ireland, Puerto Rico and Canada). The Red Storm’s sprints and hurdles coach, Aliann Pompey, will not only be of help in their training but also is hosting a meet in which the athletes can perform. June 18, Pompey, a four-time Olympian, will host the Aliann Pompey Invitational in Georgetown, Guyana, her home country.
“There are countries around the Caribbean that are producing really good athletes. When you look at what they all have in common, they have at least one good meet in their country where they can showcase their athletes,” said Pompey, who wants to raise support for track and field in Guyana. “I’m really excited about it.”
There will be athletes from the Caribbean, the U.S. and South America at the meet. Pompey is grateful for her sponsors, Ramada Princess Hotel, Fly-Jamaica, Guyana Olympic Association, ConSudAtle/IAAF, GuySuCo and Quality Plus Fast Foods, for making her dream a reality.
Pompey’s impact on Red Storm track has been decisive. Garcia credits Pompey for elevating training and expectations.
“She helped us pay attention to the fact that it’s a very mental sport and we have to prepare ourselves mentally every day in practice,” said Garcia, a 400-meter runner from Staten Island who plans to compete at the Guyana meet. “It is one of the reasons a lot of us were able to improve.”
Pompey, a graduate of Manhattan College and longtime Bronx resident, held off going into coaching until her own competitive track days were over. She said the past two years at St. John’s working with longtime head coach Jim Hurt have been incredible.
“The good thing is because I’ve been where they want to go and I’ve done to a pretty good extent what they want to do, the athletes went in whole heartedly and accepted what I needed them to do,” said Pompey, who has high expectations for the future.