Special runs by Julian Forte sets him up for individual WC spot
The InterCollegiate Championships is nestled quietly in that space between Boys and Girls' Championships and the Carifta Games.
This year, with just a week between Champs and Carifta, the minds of track and field fans might be forgiven for skipping from one to the other without due consideration for the meet known as Intercol. However, those who did stay alert in the interim got just reward.
There were joyous celebrations when Megan Simmonds led a University of Technology (UTech) one-two in the 100-metre hurdles with a personal best of 12.91 seconds, ahead of teammate Chrisdale McCarthy and World Youth champion Yanique Thompson of GC Foster College. It was the diminutive hurdler's first time under 13 seconds, the fastest time by a Jamaican this year and equal to the fastest by a Jamaican in all of 2014.
Thompson and javelin winner Isheka Binns of the University of the West Indies (UWI) went to the Carifta Games to win gold last weekend.
Janieve Russell avenged her 2014 400-metre hurdle loss to Rushell Clayton of the UWI in 55.83 seconds. It looks like her Commonwealth Games bronze medal won't be the last high-level honour won by the 2012 World Junior champion.
The sprint fans who did attend the National Stadium for Intercol last week got their reward too. Andrew Fisher and Elaine Thompson, both of UTech, won the 100-metre finals.
Fisher, the young man who out-started Justin Gatlin at last year's Jamaica Invitational, defended his title in 10.19 seconds. Thompson, the spritely second leg runner on the 4x100m team that beat the MVP Track Club at the Milo Western Relays, sizzled home in 11.10 seconds.
She could be someone to watch. So is Julian Forte. Known for his 2010 Class One sprint double at Champs for Wolmer's Boys' School and for his agonising injury while leading the 2012 World Junior Championships 200m final, Forte is in fine fettle.
At Intercol, he confirmed the fine form he has shown in relays with a slick 200-metre run timed in 20.19 seconds. That's the fastest time at low altitude in the world so far in 2015.
World Champs next?
Last year, he joined Jamaica's big teams to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Relays and the Commonwealth Games. This year, with this new 200-metre personal best, he may have his eye on an outside shot at an individual team berth for the World Championships.
Jamaica went 1-2-4 at the last Worlds, through the incomparable Usain Bolt, Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade and 1-2-3 through Rasheed Dwyer, Weir and Jason Livermore at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. So it won't be easy, but Forte might just be the outsider with the best chance.
It's a certainty that he will have be ready to go sub-20 to get to the team. That may not be outside his reach this year. He has been running super second legs for the UTech 4x100m and ran a 4x400m leg in 45.7 seconds, as well, at the Gibson McCook Relays.
At Intercol, he showed his genuine speed on the 4x100m. His first leg man was injured and hobbled in. Forte hit the accelerator to save the day and to put UTech back in the lead for good. For me, those two special runs by Forte were worth the price of admission.
Most people missed Intercol and these special runs because of the proximity and the profile of Champs and the Carifta Games. However, if things go well, they will get a good look at Julian Forte later in 2015.
n Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.