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Atkins, Cleare to enter NAIA Hall of Fame this weekend

  • Aaron Cleare will be one of two Bahamians inducted into the NAIA Hall in Fame in Marion, Indiana this weekend. FILE

  • Derrick Atkins will be one of two Bahamians inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana this weekend. FILE

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 23, 2013

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Two Bahamian track and field standouts are set to be inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame this weekend.

Derrick Atkins and former Dickinson State University teammate Aaron Cleare are two of 14 persons set to be honored in the 2012-2013 NAIA Hall of Fame awards ceremony that will take place today, during the NAIA Track and Field Championships, in Marion, Indiana. Atkins and Cleare are regarded as two of the most decorated athletes in the history of athletics at Dickinson State University. They helped lead the Blue Hawks to three NAIA championship titles.

Atkins, who moved on to win a silver medal at the 2007 International Associations of Athletic Federation’s (IAAF) World Championships, captured a number of individual NAIA titles inclusive of three outdoor titles and two indoor crowns. As for Cleare, he was a four-time winner, the first in the history of the NAIA, in the men’s 400 meters (m). Cleare was the first of the duo to compete in the Olympic Games. His debut came in 2004 in Athens, Greece, as a member of the men’s 4x400m squad. Atkins was a member of the 2008 Olympic Games team, and advanced to the semi-finals of the 100m.

During his collegiate career, Atkins set several indoor and outdoor meet records that are still standing. He is a seven-time national champion, winning the 100m dash from 2003-2005. Among the hardware collected in college for Atkins were eight All-American titles.

Cleare has been off the track and field scene for a while, but before he bowed out, he made his presence felt up in North Dakota. Cleare won an All-American award in both relays in 2004, and the 400m title in the outdoor season that year. His winning trend continued throughout his collegiate career where he collected more individual titles. Cleare and Atkins joins Dr. Gerald Robert Burns, Dr. Arthur Wallace, ‘Toby’ Williams, Pat Curran, Eddie Eviston, Kurtiss Riggs, Edward ‘Ted’ Ledbetter, Duane ‘Moose’ Woltzen, Curt Fredrickson, George Wilson and Kyle Blaser in this year’s class.

The NAIA National Track and Field Championships will get underway today and will run until May 25. Representing The Bahamas and their respective schools at the meet are Gortia Ferguson, Gregria Higgs and Krysten Black.

Ferguson has the fifth best time in the women’s 100m, 11.82 seconds. She competes for Wayland Baptist. Higgs and Black are also in the field for the 100m. Higgs’ time is 12.02 seconds and Black has a best time of 12.15 seconds. In the 200m, Ferguson is third with a time of 24.16 seconds and Black is ninth with a time of 24.51 seconds.

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