Titanic clash! - Calabar, KC going down to the wire
It will be like a heavyweight boxing match at the 2019 GraceKennedy ISSA Boys’ and Girl’s Athletics Championship, as defending champions Calabar High and Kingston College (KC) will go toe-to-toe in what is expected to be five days of pulsating action to decide the title.
Calabar High will be seeking to make it eight wins in row, while the North Street-based KC school will be hoping to win their first title since 2009.
Like they did several months ago when they broke a long drought in winning the Manning Cup football title, the ‘Purples’ will be hoping to satisfy their longing for schoolboy’s ultimate track and field prize, the Mortimer Geddes Trophy.
In the run-up to this year’s championships, KC have been very dominant and their coaching staff is quietly oozing confidence. Based on results at all the meets thus far, they have every right to feel optimistic as they have shown good all-round depth.
However, Calabar, with wily head coach Michael Clarke at the helm, will not go down without a fight, as the likes of top athletes Michael Stephens, DeJour Russell and Christopher Taylor, who have all been instrumental in their school’s success over the past six years, will want to end their Champs careers on a high.
With this very strong Class One team, Calabar hold a slight edge to retain their titles, as they look set to stack up big points to cushion their advantage in the lower classes, where their main rivals, KC, are potent.
Despite not having a winning chance, Jamaica College (JC), which last won the title in 2011, could play a significant role in deciding who wins the title. Their team is coached by former KC head coach Neil Harrison, and they could definitely be spoilers.
The margin of victory will be so close that the title could come down to the final event of the championships, the 4x400m metres Open relay, similar to two years ago, when the defending champions prevailed by winning the event. On that occasion, KC also had the opportunity to win by placing among the top four or three spots behind Calabar, but they ended fifth.
This time, even though Calabar’s team again has the outstanding Taylor in their line-up, it will be a different Kingston College aggregation this time around as they have a much stronger team, which is led by intermediate hurdlers Shanthamoi Brown, Romel Plummer and team captain Terese Rhoden, who has been in tremendous form all season.
When all is said done, Calabar, who are expected to rake up some 155 points in Class One, are favoured to outlast a young KC team that will outclass their rivals in Classes Two and Three. However, that dominance is not expected to produce enough points to overcome the big margin in Class One.
The defending champions are predicted to end the championships on 341 points, seven ahead of KC, on 334, and make it eight in a row and 29 overall. Leading the title race is KC, with 31.
JC will produce a gallant show to maintain third position, with 280 points, while another former champions St Jago High will close out the top four with 120 points.