Sun | Aug 20, 2017

STATHS aiming to win Champs in six years

Published:Wednesday | October 19, 2016 | 10:00 AMHubert Lawrence

Two-time Olympians Mike Fray and Isa Phillips and 1983 World Championship sprinter Everald Samuels are part of the rich track and field history nurtured at St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS).

If a new ambitious thrust hits the target, STATHS will make more history by winning one or both of the team titles at Boys and Girls' Championships six years from now.

That goal is entrenched in a '2-4-6' plan that is now guiding track and field at the school.

"It's a plan to win Champs step by step and we'll try to win it in the sixth year," said STATHS Champs hero, Donald 'Cherry' Davis.

According to the school's past students association, the first step has been successfully taken and has seen the STATHS' track and field team increase in size to 130 student-athletes. They train under the guidance of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) level five instructor, Roy Thomas, who has replaced Ransford Spaulding as head coach.

Launched earlier this year, the STATHS 2-4-6 plan aims to build the teams from the lower age groups and to work towards finishing in the Champs top 10 in 2018, which is year two, in the top five in 2020, year four, and to challenge for the team titles in 2022, the sixth year of the new programme.

Centrally, STATHS expects to create opportunities for their graduating athletes to obtain a free college education via athletic scholarships.

Davis, a STATHS Boys' Championship high jump winner in 1980, is part of a group that is helping to steer the school to glory.

"When you see people making an effort, you have to join them," he smiled. "And they're real making some effort and I'm proud of them."

Davis, a long time supporter of his old school, is encouraging fellow past students, corporate sponsors and friends of STATHS to help.

"We just need to get the financial backing," he said.

Donations can be made via the GoFundMe website at www.gofundme.com/2na4tebh?r=95143.

Coach Thomas is being assisted by a team of four assistant coaches Kenneth Darby, Vanissa Brown, Collin King and Nigel Brown. Darby and Brown returned to the island last summer, after studying athletics for the past six years in Cuba at the Universidad de Pinar del Rio. Together, Thomas and his team of coaches are targeting success at both Boys Championships and Girls Championships.

So far, Excelsior High and St Jago High schools are the only Co-Ed teams to win at both Boys and Girls Championships.

STATHS placed 10th and 11th at Girls Championships in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The boys' team didn't score any points this year, but reached a four-year high of 21st in 2014. During this period, the school's top athlete was Ayesha Champagnie, who took three gold medals at Boys and Girls' Championships in 2015.

Work has already begun to improve facilities at STATHS, with the opening of a gym there and Davis predicts that past students will help as the programme progresses.

He said: "I think what will turn it around is when we get to Penn Relays."

He believes that will spur US-based STATHS alumni to come on board.