Press Class Two for speed
With Michael O'Hara and Shauna Helps gone a year early from Class One, the search for speed might settle in Class Two when ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships arrives in March. That's where Calabar's potent sprinters dominated last year on the boys' side. Edwin Allen did likewise amongst the girls but may have challengers this year.
O'Hara, Edward Clarke and Raheem Robinson, the top three from the Class One 100 final are gone. So is Okeen Williams who was fifth. That should leave the way clear for Raheem Chambers, St Jago's former Class Two and Three 100m winner and Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical who has already shown promise over 200 metres this season. If Jevaughn Matherson of Kingston College bounces back from a wretched 2015 campaign, he could be a threat.
He broke Chambers' Class Three record, and when the St Jago speed merchant set the Class Two record of 10.29 seconds in 2014, Matherson was a splendid second in 10.37, a fine time for a first-year Class Two athlete.
LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
The absence of Helps, RenÈe Medley, Sashalee Forbes, Carmelita Griffiths and Jeanine Williams, and the possible deployment of St Jago teammate Shanice Reid to the 400m leaves defending girls' Class One 100m and 200m champion Natalliah Whyte in a league of her own this year. Helps, Reid, Medley and Forbes, Griffiths and Williams were second, third, fourth and fifth, sixth and seventh in the Class One 100m final last year.
Together, those circumstances force fans to look to Class Two for quality depth and mass speed. Calabar's Dejour Russell and Tyreke Wilson, first and second in the 100m, both return. Wilson will want to add the Class Two title to the Class Three version he won over Russell in 2014, but the big boy will want to repeat. If their starts are better than they were last year, fast times are possible.
The best group of speedsters are probably in the girls' Class Two category. Defending champion Shellece Clarke of Edwin Allen has been winning since her Class Four days, but her hand could be full at Champs this year. Not only must she cope with last year's Class Three winner Kimone Shaw of St Jago, she probably will have company from Sheneil English. In Class Three, English beat both Shaw and Clarke at 200 metres while attending Hydel High. Now she is Shaw's teammate at St Jago and missed the 2015 season of Champs eligibility because of the switch.
Since then, the smooth running English has reached the World Youth 200m final. Recently, she opened her 2016 with a trip over 400 metres. Shaw is the best starter of the three, but the other two are great finishers.
The last time they all met in a Champs 100m, the order was Clarke - English - Yanique Dayle of Hydel - Shaw. That was two years ago. All have improved, and a run at Helps' Class Two record of 11.50 isn't out of the question.
- Hubert Lawrence has attended Champs since 1980