Jamaicans begin hunt for Penn Relays glory
FRANKLIN FIELD, Philadelphia:
For the next three days, Jamaican athletes will be in the spotlight as the 101st staging of the Penn Relays will get under way inside the Franklin Field Stadium, starting at 9 a.m. (Jamaica Time).
Apart from the high schools, a high-powered University of Technology (UTech) team is set to put on a grand show, as they go toe to toe with their North American counterparts led by Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University, University of Texas, Austin, and Florida University, to name a few.
There will be several individual events and a host of Jamaicans in both high school and colleges are down to compete, beginning with the females today. GC Foster College's Rhonda Whyte, with a season best 57.41 and the University of West Indies' (UWI) Rushelle Clayton (57.71) will be the first Jamaicans in action, in the Collegiate Championship of Americas 400 metres hurdles.
Top seed Janieve Russell, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, who was second last year, will not compete.
"UTech will be focusing on the Relays and we have decided to pull Janieve from the 400 metres hurdles," coach Paul Francis informed.
High-schoolers will follow in the intermediate hurdles.
Defending champion, Andrenette Knight of St Jago High, who won the event while representing Vere Technical last year, is among five Jamaicans down to compete. Knight, who won the Under 20 event at the recent Carifta Games, will have to improve big time on her season best of 58.90. Her schoolmate, Genekee Leith, who won at Champs in 58.37, and Carifta Trials Under-18 winner Junelle Bromfield, of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), the top seed with 58.13 seconds, are strong challengers.
Also, there will be preliminary action in the 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m relays, with the eight fastest teams advancing to tomorrow's finals.
Edwin Allen High were the most successful Jamaican high school team last year after winning the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. This time, St Jago will be their biggest threat in both events.
The 4x800m will be first up, at 9:30 a.m., and the Lisa Buchanan-led Holmwood Technical are the favourites. Many-time champions Vere Technical and Spalding are also down to compete.
Sprint relay qualifying begins at 10:10 a.m., with action in the Small Schools category. Convent of Mercy, Alpha, will run in the first heat, to be followed by favourites St Jago, Holmwood, Hydel, STETHS, Excelsior, St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Green Island.
Defending champions Edwin Allen will compete in the Large Schools section, which gets under way at 11:20 a.m.
STETHS will lead off the Jamaicans in the 4x400s. Holmwood, St Jago and STATHS will compete in the same heat, at 3:05 p.m., Vere Technical and Hydel will compete at 3:10 p.m., Papine High and St Catherine High at 3:15 p.m. and Edwin Allen at 3:20.
Jamaican field event
10:15 a.m.: Discus
Shanice Love (Excelsior), Paul Ann Gayle (Edwin Allen), Shyladeen Smith (Petersfield), Venique Harris (Ardenne)
12:45 p.m.: Long Jump
Shanice Lewis (Edwin Allen), Tissanna Hickling (St Jago), Danique Bryan (Edwin Allen), Anastasia Forrester (Manchester High)
Tamara Moncrieffe (Holmwood), Shanique Wright (MHS), Nheyilla Rentena (St Jago)
1:30 p.m.: High Jump
Gabrielle Foster (Alpha), Safia Morgan (Immaculate), Lamara Distin (Rusea's)
2:30 p.m.: Shot Put
Rochelle Frazer (Edwin Allen), Junelle Fullerton (Edwin Allen), Kiona Bradshaw (Vere), Ashley Jarman (Alpha)
NOTE: Times listed are Jamaican time.