Jaylen Bennett '25 to be flag-bearer for St. Kitts and Nevis

Big Red speedster will lead the dual-island nation's athletes into the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games.

Brian Muldoon
August 4, 2023
Phillips Exeter Academy Track Jaylen Bennett

Jaylen Bennett '25 poses on the podium after capturing a silver medal at the 50th annual CARIFTA Games this spring.

Jaylen Bennett ’25 has earned many accolades for his performance on the track and is adding quite an honor this weekend as he has been selected to bear the national flag for St. Kitts and Nevis during the opening ceremony of The Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, taking place at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

This is not the first time that Bennett has represented St. Kitts and Nevis as the speedster captured a silver medal at the 2023 Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games in the U17 section in the 400-meters.

“I found out at the end of the indoor season that I would be able compete for the national team,” said Bennett. “I knew it was a possibility but I did not fully expect it. I felt pretty proud to win a medal for St. Kitts, especially because we’re a smaller country. It was fun to be introduced on the podium and hear people cheering for us.”

Bennett’s father, Marvin, who currently serves as an assistant coach for the Big Red track and field program competed for St. Kitts and Nevis at the CARIFTA Games when he was Jaylen’s age.

“Winning a medal did not really sink in until my dad was talking about having flashbacks about his time competing at the CARIFTA Games, it put it in a different perspective. It’s nice to follow in his footsteps.”

Bennett is no stranger to tough competition in his young Big Red career, having competed in the 60 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, and teamed up with Byron Grevious ’24, Owen Dudley ’23, and Oliver Brandes ’23 to finish fourth place and earn All-American status in the distance medley relay with a time of 10:11.63 at New Balance Indoor Nationals this past winter. Bennett also competed and turned in top-30 finishes in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters at Nike Outdoor Nationals this past spring and finished 4th overall and 5th overall in the 400 meters and 200 meters, respectively this summer at the AAU National Club Championship in Orlando.

“The atmosphere at the CARIFTA Games was different, there was a lot more music and drums in the stands, it was probably the biggest meet I’ve been to. There was an opening ceremony with all the athletes from the competing countries, and after every finals heat there was a lot of cheering, medal ceremonies, and victory laps. You could hear the crowd from everywhere, it was a really cool experience.”

While winning a medal at the CARIFTA Games was memorable, a clerical error in the results of the 200 meters created a situation that Bennett will never forget. Bennett was not made aware that he qualified for the championship finals heat in the 200 meters until the participants were introduced on the track moments before the start. This led to Bennett running the last event of the night, by himself, during the closing ceremonies.

“Once the situation was figured out, the officials gave me the option to run by myself. I took my time, got myself warm, and they cleared the track of all the athletes from all the countries. All of the athletes were right on the side of the track and they were all cheering for me – athletes from all countries.”

Bennett, who has already established eight Big Red records between the indoor and outdoor seasons, missed out on a medal in the event by .04 seconds, but running on that stage, with no competitors in the adjacent lanes, was the ultimate example in strength and determination.

The opening ceremonies for the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, which will feature events in track and field, swimming and diving, beach volleyball, road cycling, track cycling, triathlon, netball, and rugby sevens, will be held on August 4th where Jaylen will lead his teammates while carrying the national flag. He will be competing in the 400 meters, 4x100 relay, and 4x400 relay.