Jamaican sprint prodigy Natalliah Whyte makes the switch from the University of Auburn to Florida Atlantic University.
The move comes as somewhat of a surprise as she leaves one of the more prestigious college track and field programs to the lesser prominent FAU Owls, who does not possess a great tradition in the sport.
FAU, a member of the NCAA Division One’s Conference USA, only added track and field to its athletics program in 2005 compared to the Tigers’, who has won the 2006 Women’s NCAA Outdoor Championships and a total of 70 Southeastern Conference (SEC) championships, including 51 men’s titles and 19 women’s titles.
However, the university has attracted high-profile coaches for basketball and football (American). The track program is headed by Alex Smolka, who has been a coach at the program from almost the outset, and assistant Willie Randolph, who has extensive collegiate coaching experience, both as a head coach and an assistant at various storied schools.
Whyte will be joined by compatriot Renee Shaw, who also made the switch from Auburn after highly-respected track coach Henry Rolle stepped down from his position as assistant coach to reportedly head a Florida-based extension of Jamaican track club MVP.
Rolle, a Bahamian native, currently coaches Whyte’s compatriots and former Auburn teammates Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen and Jonielle Smith from his professional base in Florida.
Whyte was stellar in her two seasons as an Auburn Tiger.
She will be the top ranking female sprinter heading into the 2019 season after finishing second behind LSU’s Aleia Hobbs (now pro) in the 100 metres final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June, Auburn’s highest finisher in the event since 2007.
The former St. Jago High School standout also won bronze at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in the 60m in February breaking the Auburn school record with an impressive 7.12 seconds.
The performance led to USTFCCA Indoor First Team All-American honours. She also won bronze at the SEC Outdoor Championships (11.04).
The junior also had an outstanding freshman season earning Second Team All-SEC honors in the 200m, honourable mention All-American in the 4x100m relay and was named to the Outdoor SEC All-Freshman Team.