Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Champs Watch 17: Streaks in sky blue and green & black

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2017 | 2:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Ari Rodgers of Kingston College winning the 1500 metres at the Puma-JAAA Development meet at Kirkvine, Manchester recently.
Edwin Allen's Shellece Clarke.
Calabar's Christopher Taylor.
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Calabar High and Edwin Allen High turn into 2017 with growing Boys and Girls' Championships title streaks on the line. Calabar have gone five straight and Edwin Allen three.

However, while Michael Dyke's Edwin Allen conglomerate looks unstoppable, Michael Clarke and Calabar face far greater resistance each year.

Kingston College have nurtured a good-looking team with strength in Class One, Two, and Three, while Calabar seem a little weaker in the lower two classes on paper. Still, Calabar head coach, Clarke, is a formidable strategist and will have fully understood the task ahead. Already, his Class Two and Class Three forces look a bit better than expected.

The last time a girls' team won the Games Mistresses Trophy three times in a row, that streak reached nine, with Holmwood Technical looking like a juggernaut from 2003 to 2011. Ironically, the last time a boys' team went five straight, it was Kingston College painting high school athletics purple and white from 2001 to 2006. Calabar stopped that streak, and Kingston College will want to return the favour to protect the longest-winning Championships run, their own 14-year domination, which started in 1962 and kept going until 1976.

Dyke watched his friend Maurice Wilson guide Holmwood to nine wins in a row. While the soft-spoken Edwin Allen head coach probably won't say, that is likely to be his minimum goal. What he has said is ominous. In a recent interview, he described his 2017 team as the best he has ever had.

For the record, the biggest streak in Girls' Championships history is the monumental 15 in-a-row by Vere Technical High.

Hydel High School, first-timers at Champs in 2010, are now a powerhouse, but coach Corey Bennett is uncomfortable with the recent ISSA ruling to limit the number of events one athlete can do at Boys and Girls' Championships.

"At Hydel, you know, we don't normally get the best of the best athletes coming, so the few athletes that we have that have some talent," he explained, "we tend to try to teach them more than one discipline.

"We try not to specialise them too early, and the ruling is basically forcing us to specialise", he continued, "and that's what I'm afraid of.

"It is really tying our hands," he concluded, "because if we knew this in August, with a little more preparation, we would have liked it then, but to tell us this in January for a March meet is almost ridiculous."

With Hydel and others like Vere grappling with that dilemma, perhaps St Jago High School and Holmwood will carry the fight to Edwin Allen. The true test of both streaks will begin on March 28. That's when the 2017 edition of the world's greatest high school meet gets under way at the National Stadium.

- Hubert Lawrence has been attending Champs since 1980.