Calabar excite at inaugural Wint/McKenley Classic
THERE were brilliant performances on and off the track at Saturday's historical Wint/McKenley Classic at Calabar High School.
It was a great job by the organising committee as the entire meet was first class. Entering the environs of the Red Hills Road institution brought memories of the Penn Relays. The large crowd was in a carnival mood.
The performances by home team Calabar High boys as well as Hydel High girls, brought great satisfaction for the large number of fans who turned out to be a part of history.
Home boy Aykeem Francis became the first Calabar athlete to be crowned champion on the new synthetic track.
Francis was a cut above his peers in the Open 400 metres hurdles, as he raced to a season and personal best 53.10 seconds to win.
Andre Pickersgill of Cameron Blazers Track Club was second in 54.55 seconds, with Francis' teammate, Damion Dixon, third in 55.94.
Francis returned to close a double by taking the Class One 400 metres in 49.12.
St Jago High's Lerone Clarke was second overall in 49.34 seconds, with Calabar's Avraldo Hoggart third with 59.60.
World Youth 400m champion Christopher Taylor teased his many home supporters in the Class Two 400m.
He shut it down in the last 100m, but was still able to clock 46.99 seconds, which was good enough for top spot.
Brandon Heath clocked 49.65 seconds for second overall. Vere's Romane Lindo was third best with 50.36.
It was truly a Calabar show as Dejour Russell, Orville Dixon, Tyrone Bryan and Warren Barrett Jr had good wins.
Russell, who won the Class Two boys' 110m hurdles at Champs a year ago, started his season campaign in fine style, taking the event in 13.78.
It was a clean sweep for the home team. Orlando Bennett (14.28) and Michael Stephens (14.39) seconds finished second and third, respectively.
Dixon captured the Class One boys' 1500m in 4:05.20, ahead of St Jago's Thaleeito Green in 4:06.31.
Brown won the Class One 110m hurdles in 14.44 seconds.
Barrett continued his excellent form this season with double victory in the throws. He took the Class One discus throw with 51.14m and the shot put with a heave of 18.89m.
Despite their coach playing down their chances of finishing in the top three at Champs this year, Hydel totally dominated the female section.
In the girl's 400m Class One, it was joint first place for Semoy Hemmings and Taquece Duggan, who both clocked 55.18 seconds.
The Ferry-based team swept all 400m events. In Class Two, Abigail Brooks won in 58.64 seconds, while in Class Three, it was Jada Martin in 57.25 seconds.
Hydel girls also had good results in the hurdles.
Class Four athlete, Gabrielle Matthews, became the fastest girl in the age group so far this season in the 70m hurdles, winning in 10.99 seconds.
In the Class Three 80m hurdles, it was Donna Ray Lee in 12.09 seconds, while in the Class One 100 hurdles, Trishauna Hemmings won in 14.68 seconds. Jada Campbell was best in Class Two, with 14.84 seconds.