Champs matchups to savour
Absorbing match-ups are sprinkled liberally across the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships this week. Yet, despite the collective allure, one has captured the nation's imagination.
That special one pits Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) against Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College (KC) and Raheem Chambers of St Jago High School.
In a world where the Olympic or World 100m champion has long been dubbed the world's fastest human, that extra interest is understandable.
Chambers and Matherson are precocious talents who each have won the Class Three 100m in record time. Two years ago, Chambers out-started his friendly KC rival to win in a Class Two record time of 10.29 seconds, with Matherson next in 10.37 seconds.
By contrast, Ellis has never won a Champs medal before. This late bloomer moved from Cambridge High and has blossomed at STETHS. He was fourth in both the Class One 100 and 200m last year, with Chambers behind him in the shorter race.
All of those ahead of him, including former Calabar standout Michael O'Hara, are gone. So is his 2015 personal best of 10.45. Some didn't believe his fast-winning Western Champs times of 10.20 and 20.40 seconds until his measured 10.26-second dash to beat Chambers in the Under-20 100m at the recent Carifta Trials.
Even though that was Chambers' first 100m of the season, and even though Matherson smoothly released a 10.25 to win the under-18, everyone believes in Ellis now. His mission is to become the first boy from STETHS to win the Class One 100m.
For all that, there are some other big matchups. Ellis' schoolmate, Junelle Bromfield, and Ashley Williams of Holmwood Technical are heading for a highly anticipated meeting in the Class One 400m. Bromfield is strong and Williams is quick, but the STETHS girl is just about 0.3 faster on the clock this year.
Despite all that and the lofty expectations for the clashes between Jauavney James, Shevon Parkes, and Leon Clarke in the Class One 800m and between the JC pair of O'Brien Wasome and Clayton Brown in the Class One triple jump, the girls' Class Two 100m
hurdles will share the spotlight.
Two former Class Three and Four winners, Sidney Marshall of Manchester High and Holmwood's Shanette Allison, demand attention in the Class Two 100 metres hurdles. Allison edged her elder rival at Central Champs and looked great on Tuesday in the Champs heats.
Her time of 13.60 seconds led all qualifiers in the preliminary round.
Perhaps next year, when she will again be in Class Two, she will knock on the door of the record, set at 13.38 seconds by Peta-Gaye Williams.
As in the boys' Class One 100m, there is another worthy contender. That's Marshall's teammate, Daszay Freeman. This leggy lass has sprint credentials, having beaten St Jago's outstanding Kimone Shaw.
Marshall is slick. Allison is quick and Freeman has the look of someone who will keep improving. One of them could become really, really good.
That's the great thing about Champs. Whether the athlete is as unheralded as Ellis or as established as bright prospects like Chambers and Matherson, those who watch Champs keenly could see a gem.
So here's a word of advice. Don't lose focus after the big 100-metre final. The girls' Class Two 100-metre hurdles could be the race of the meet.