Sun | May 28, 2017

St Jago to end 15-year Penn Relays drought

Published:Monday | April 20, 2015 | 4:00 AMRaymond Graham
St Jago's Natalliah Whyte

A year ago, Jamaican high-school teams dominated the Girl's 4x400 metres event at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, as led by defending champions Edwin Allen, they occupied the top-four places.

Holmwood, St Jago and St Elizabeth Technical claimed the other top spots, while 11-time winners Vere Technical finished seventh.

When competition in the event gets going on Thursday morning, the Jamaicans will be hoping for dominant performances once again, as all the teams named above are expected to fight to the finish based on form going into the meet.

The defending champions will be hoping for their fourth win in the event, but will be hard pressed to retain their title, with only one survivor from last year's winning team, Saqkuine Cameron.

It has been an up-and-down season so far for the Michael Dyke-coached team, as despite winning the event at the Gibson Relays, their best performance came at the Utech Classic, where they had to stave off a late challenge from St Jago to win in 3:36.67, the third-fastest time among teams going into the meet.

 

long wait

 

It has been a long wait for two-time winners St Jago High, with their last success coming in 2000, and the Keilando Goburn-coached team is bent on breaking this long drought.

With most of their athletes back from last year's third-placed team, they will be the team to beat, as after a lukewarm performance at the Gibson McCook Relays, where they finished a disappointing fourth, they bounced back in style at the Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships with an impressive performance. The quartet of Andrenette Knight, Genekee Leith, Shanice Reid, and Natalliah Whyte stopped the clock at 3:35.78 to record the fastest time among all high-school teams going into the meet this weekend.

The likes of Vere Technical, which won two years ago, and St Elizabeth Technical cannot be taken lightly, however, as these two will ensure that both St Jago and Edwin Allen will not have things their own way. On paper, Vere Technical has a team capable of going all the way, as the likes of Derriann Hill, Shanique Walker, Shanice Clarke, and Renae Medley have the class to win here, and if the John Mair-coached team is close to their rivals after the second leg, they will be very dangerous and could go much faster than their season-best 3:36.761 when finishing second to St Jago at Champs.

The Milton Brown-coached St Elizabeth Technical team will be hunting their first success in the event here, and led by the outstanding Junelle Bromfield, they, too, are expected to improve big time on their season-best of 3:36.71.