St Jago boys ready to rise - Hawthorne
IT has been more than 22 years since St Jago's boys have seen the winners' enclosure at the ISSA/ GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships.
The Spanish Town-based team won its second title in 1993 under John Cente, six years after winning its first under Michael Clarke.
Head coach Danny Hawthorne, who took the reins from Olympian Bertland Cameron in the early 2000s, is hoping for something special this year from his team.
With the likes of Calabar, Kingston College and Jamaica College occupying the top three spots on many occasions, Hawthorne is confident his team will make a big move from their fourth-place finish a year ago.
"I am extremely pleased with the performances so far from the boys and we are very confident that we will move up from our fourth place finish from a year ago," said Hawthorne.
Hawthorne, considered to be one of the best, if not the best, among high school sprint coaches, has produced the likes of Percival Spencer, Nicole Mitchell, Yohan Blake, Nickeal Ashmeade and Riker Hylton, who have all gone on to represent the country as seniors.
He, however, pleased with his team's balance this time around.
"Results, so far, have shown that we are very strong in the middle distance, the throws, and we can hold our own in the sprints, and I think the team winning Champs this year will be the team that has the best middle-distance and field-events athletes, as all the teams have good sprinters and the points will spread here," he said.
Top athletes lost
At the start of the season, Hawthorne lost two of his top athletes, 400m runner Martin Manley, who went professional by joining Cameron Blazers, and 200m runner, Chad Walker, overseas on a track scholarship.
"Losing both athletes has cost us around 40 points but the show must go on and, yes, they will be missed but the good thing is that other boys who were waiting in the wings have stepped up big time, and this is their opportunity to shine," said Hawthorne.
The likes of Keenon Lawrence, Anthony Cox, Leon Clarke, Thalentino Green and Kyle Morgan have shown, so far, this season that they are ready to score quality points for St Jago at middle and long distance.