Howard Cooke ready to defend their crown
Back-to-back winners Howard Cooke Primary will be hoping to overcome the challenges of rivals Corinaldi Avenue Primary at the eighth staging of the JPS Western Primary Schools Athletics Championships tomorrow at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Thirty-five schools, including eight new entrants, are set to participate.
"We are anticipating a fiery competition between the schools and their athletes. In fact, we believe that this year, we will witness the best of Western Primary Champs as the schools have pulled out all the stops to make it happen," chief organiser Albert Furguson noted.
And from all indications, it seems that might just be the case, especially in the girls' Class One sprint events, where the Howard Cooke pair of Shanequa Vassell and Bryanna Johnson should star.
Last year, Vassell won the double in Class Two, taking the 100m in 13.35 seconds and the 200m in 27.84, beating Johnson in both events to the gold medal. The two will again be battling for the top spot on the podium.
Vassell leads a deep Howard Cooke contingent inclusive of girls' Class Two double gold favourite Carleta Bernard.
Meanwhile on the boys' side, Corinaldi's Jovel Madourie is already installed as the pre-race favourite in the 400m after being edged into second place last year by Alex Forbes of Howard Cooke.
Ishmael Miller of Barracks Road Primary could spoil his party, however, and is said to be eyeing the record of 1:00:01 set in this event by Daniel Binns, formerly of Catherine Hall Primary last year.
Fabian Isaacs, head coach at Barracks Road, believes his school's chances of winning the title have never been better.
"Howard Cooke beat us to the crown last year, but we are back to avenge that loss. We have a good, solid unit and are hoping for a good day on Saturday," stated Isaacs.
The championship is regarded as the nurturing ground for future track and field stars from western Jamaica, having already given significant exposure to the likes of
St Jago's Shaniel English, formerly of Cove Primary in Hanover; the outstanding St Elizabeth Technical athlete Jauvaney James (Anchovy Primary); and Rusea's and Vere Technical's Lamara Distin (Corinaldi Avenue Primary) and Devontae Haywood, formerly of Wakefield.
Competition begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow.