By: Romanda Noble-Watson
Who would've imagined that a bubbly freshman from Hope Bay Port Antonio, Portland Jamaica who joined the Claflin University track team as a walk-on two years ago would capture the 2016 NCAA Division II 200-meter title? That's exactly what happened when Trisana Fairweather ran an impressive 23.21 seconds en route to a first-pace finish in the final of the 200 meters at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Bradenton, Fla. Fairweather also became Claflin’s first-ever NCAA D-II track champion.
The rising junior also picked up a bronze medal after sprinting to a time of 11.51 to finish third in the 100 meter dash, giving her All-America stats in two events.
It’s been a productive 2015-16 season for Fairweather who also earned NCAA D-II All-American honors after placing third in the 200 meters at the 2016 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Pittsburg, Kan.
Fairweather’s dramatic climb from fifth to first in the 200 and from one of a handful of qualifiers to third in the 100 was unexpected to those who did not know her. However, Fairweather was far from satisfied -- so she set some new goals for herself for the 2015-16 season.
“I was self-driven to accomplish more this year,” she said. “I knew I could be the next champion for the 200 meters. I held on to my dream like Sean Paul says in his song -- Hold On to the Dream. It has a strong inspirational message that I really believe in.”
Fairweather also draws inspiration from another native of Jamaica, Usain Bolt, the world class sprinter and Olympic champion.
“He [Bolt] is my role model,” said Fairweather. “His performances motivate me to push myself even harder. I remember how he finished second in some of his races in high school before becoming the ‘King of Sprints.’ He is a remarkable athlete,” she added. “I believe that I can be the next 100 and 200 meter champion if I train hard enough, and if I continue to pray and challenge myself.”
Fairweather’s path to the Claflin track team wasn’t that of a highly recruited athlete. It wasn’t until after an interest meeting in the fall of 2014 conducted by head coach Lincoln London and then assistant athletics director (now Associate Athletics Director) Marilyn Stacey-Suggs that introduced Fairweather to Claflin track.
“I sent an e-mail to each student that attended the meeting to thank them for their interest in the track and field program,” said Stacey-Suggs. “I invited them to come to my office to discuss eligibility issues or to contact coach London for more information about competing on the track team. Trisana was in my office the very next day,” she recalled.
“Trisana came to us as a diamond-in-the-rough,” said London. “She had very little experience in track but she has natural athletic ability, a strong work ethic and she is a fast learner. She listens to her coaches and applies what she has learned,” he added. “She works hard in all areas of her life but she understands that maintaining balance is also important to being successful.”
Fairweather knew sports were in her future, but not necessarily as a member of a track team.
“From a young age, I was very fond of sports,” said Fairweather. “In high school I played netball and participating in sports has helped me stay focused on my academics. Track and field was the only sport at Claflin that was familiar to me so I decided to give it a try.”
Fairweather’s brilliant performances in track are truly impressive. However, her dedication and commitment to excellence are further exemplified in her academic achievements. In her two years at Claflin, Fairweather has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average as an accounting major. During the university’s annual honors and awards convocation held last spring, she received the gold medallion – the highest honor awarded for academic excellence on the President’s Honor List. Additionally, she was named to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) All-Academic Team and Commissioner’s All-Academic Team earlier this summer. She is also the recipient of the Timothy J. Autry All-Academic Team gold medallion, which is presented to student-athletes with a grade point average between 3.6-4.0.
“Trisana is the epitome of Panther Pride,” stated London. “She displays confidence, focus and humility on a daily basis. She is grateful for all Claflin has afforded her, academically and athletically.”
Few would believe Fairweather has achieved so much in her brief two-year collegiate track career. Her accolades read like an athlete who has considerably more years of training and competition.
Trisana was named the Female Athlete of the Year at the Claflin’s annual athletics and awards banquet last spring. She is a two-time SIAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year (2015, 2016) and in May, Fairweather was named the 2016 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division II Women's Outdoor Track & Field South Region Track Athlete of the Year. Overall, she earned all-region honors in five events (100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, and 4x100 and 4x400 meter-relay team) during the 2015-16 season.