UTech delivers at Penns
FRANKLIN FIELD, Pennsylvania:
After sending strong signals leading into the 121st staging of the Penn Relays, the University of Technology (UTech), led by Elaine Thompson and Julian Forte, dented the armour of their North American counterparts by winning the men's 4x100m and 4x200m, as well as the women's 4x200.
When the curtains came down on Saturday evening at the Franklin Field Stadium in Philadelphia, Jamaican fans had a lot to cheer for, having already seen their country's high school teams win six relays.
Due to the dominance of Jamaica's high schools, where sometimes there is a total sweep of the top spots, the organising committee made a decision to award the first team from the United States to finish with commemorative Penn Relays watches, along with a plaque. Previously, that honour was reserved for the winner of the Championship of Americas events.
Organisers may be forced to consider a similar move, given UTech's displays, that were spearheaded by Andrew Fisher, Julian Forte and Kemarley Brown, who ran on both the 4x100m and 4x200m teams.
With Tyquendo Tracy anchoring the 4x100, they remained unbeaten this season with a 39.27-second clocking. Texas A&M were second in 39.56, with G.C. Foster third in 40.26. Colin King, Chadic Hinds, Roberto Smith and Brandon Tomlinson formed the G.C. Foster quartet.
For the 4x200m, Kevean Smith joined the UTech team, that clocked 1:20.97 to beat G.C. Foster, which clocked 1:23.02. Hinds, Tomlinson and King were joined by Danish Gayle.
In women's action, Thompson, who clocked 10.92 seconds recently, was instrumental in her team's success with an impressive third leg in the 4x200m.
After the first two legs from Shimarya Williams and Chanice Bonner, UTech trailed US college powerhouses Texas A&M and Louisiana State University (LSU), but Thompson put her team in front and the talented Shericka Jackson took them to victory in 1:30.80.
Texas A&M (1:31.17) and LSU (1:32.38) finished second and third, respectively, with G.C. Foster College placing fifth in 1:34.63.
Papine-based UTech were a bit unfortunate in the women's 4x100. They were the fastest qualifiers, but had to pull out at the last minute due to an injury to Christania Williams at the warm-up track.
Texas A&M won for the seventh year in a row, clocking in 43.76 seconds. G.C. Foster College finished fourth in 45.54 seconds.
With Janieve Russell handicapped by an injured toe, UTech battled courageously in the women's 4x400m, placing second in 3:31.34. Jackson clocked 51.5 on the third leg to give Russell a slight lead, but then injury took a toll.
University of Texas won in 3:29.46.
UTech failed to defend their sprint medley title, as the quartet of Bonner, Shimarya Williams, Russell and Samantha James, placed fourth in 3:50.71.
University of Oregon in 3:44.59, while Clemson University, coached by Jamaican Mark Elliott, finished second in 3:44.71. Former Vere Technical quarter-miler, Olivia James and former Manchester High middle-distance star, Natoya Goule, ran the opening and anchor legs for Clemson.