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Calabar's record threat for 4x100m and 4x400m double at Penn Relays

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2015 | 4:09 AMHubert Lawrence
With Kingston College (right) and St Elizabeth Technical High School close, Christopher Taylor (centre), on anchor, takes off for Calabar High’s record-setting 4x400m team at the 2015 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships at the National Stadium.
Members of the Calabar High sprint relay quartet who clocked a record 39.08 seconds in the Class One 4x100m at the National Stadium. The members of the team are (from left) Michael O’Hara, Seanie Selvin (stooping), Edward Clarke Jr (stooping) and Jullane Walker.
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When Jamaica converges on Franklin Field from April 23-25, the Philadelphia stadium where the world famous Penn Relays are run, expect a banner performance from Calabar High School.

The Michael Clarke-coached team is especially good at the 4x100m and the 4x400m relays. In fair weather, his charges might send the meet records tumbling.

Upset by Jamaica College (JC) last year, Calabar have unfinished business in the 4x100m. Then, as now, Edward Clarke, Michael O'Hara, Julanie Walker and Seanie Selvin are the fastest high school 4x100m ever.

Their latest stunner - 39.09 seconds at Boys and Girls' Championships - puts them in reach of the 39-second barrier. JC doesn't seem to have the legs to challenge Calabar this year, but ran 39.79 at Champs to move into number two on the 2015 high school list ahead of the 39.80 run by St Jago at the Gibson McCook Relays.

Times under 39 seconds aren't likely at Penn. Franklin Field is too much of a circle for that. However, JC's Penn Relay record of 39.71 looks wobbly.

In another parallel to last year, O'Hara might have to do double duty. In 2014, he ran a 45.7-second anchor in a losing cause as St Jago triumphed. Once again, Calabar goes to Penn as the fastest Jamaican school. Last year, the green-and-blacks had run three minutes 07.00 seconds at the Gibson Relays. This season, without O'Hara, Calabar set a Champs record with a run of 3.06.76, with prodigy Christopher Taylor on anchor leg duty.

JC's long standing Jamaican and World high school record - three minutes 06.56 seconds - wasn't far away.

It isn't clear if Calabar will take the 15-year-old Taylor to Penn. After all, he has a maximum of five years left at school and only four years of Penn high school eligibility.

Whether the little one goes to Penn or not, the meet record of three minutes 08.72 seconds could be under pressure. Kingston College (KC) placed second to Calabar at Champs without the fatigued 44.93 man, Akeem Bloomfield.

Thanks to a 44.8 anchor by Nathon Allen, St Jago were third in the Champs final without World Youth and Youth Olympic champion, Martin Manley.

At Gibson-McCook, KC broke the 21-year-old 4x800-metre relay record, with an outstanding time of seven minutes 33.87 seconds. That would put the purple-and-whites fourth on the all-time Penn Relay performance list. With 400 man Twayne Crooks doing the damage on anchor, KC might be spying the Penn record of seven minutes 30.67 seconds.

Winning won't be easy as St Elizabeth Technical High School were close in the record race and Davis High from Utah and Fordham High from New York also have good teams.

Calabar took the 4x800m last year, but the two prime movers of that team, Rajay Hamilton and Jorel Belafonte, have graduated. Both now attend US colleges.

n Hubert Lawrence has taken notes at trackside since 1980.