Sprint showdown to highlight Western Champs
Track and field enthusiasts will have much to look forward to at today's Western Championships at the Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay, St James.
The meet, which gets under way at 12 noon, will feature must-see events such as the Class Two sprint finals. Both the 100m and 200m finals play big on the schedule for the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championships, which has been incorporated into the day Western Jamaica's girls and boys' track and field champion schools will be decided.
"The Class Two sprints deserve to come to Catherine Hall to see. The reason being you have two national high school champions, Sasheen (Dennis) from Class Three and Antonio Watson, also at Class Three level," Michael McIntosh, vice-chairman of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), reasoned.
Dennis, STETHS' 100m winner at Champs last year, put down the second-fastest time of the qualifiers in the 100m, 11.12 seconds, while winning his semi-final. Meanwhile Watson, the Champs Class Three champion last year, has the second-fastest time going into the 200m final, 22.43 seconds.
It is in the longer sprint that the Petersfield man is expected to be involved in a battle royal with Dennis, who leads all qualifiers with 22.39. William Knibb's AndrÈ Bent is expected to also challenge Dennis strongly in both sprints.
Bent's 11.11 is the fastest in 100m qualifying, while his 22.46 preliminary run in the 200m is only slower than Dennis and Watson's.
The 100m showdown, though, is not limited and STETHS' Conroy Jones (11.15), plus Rusea's High duo of Davian Clarke (11.17) and Jevaughn White (11.20) could have a say.
In terms of a winner, McIntosh said that management would play a huge part.
"It's going to be management of the various teams - how they manage the athletes in terms of recovering and their mental state," he assessed.
Other events on the Digicel Grand Prix schedule are the 400m, 800m, discus, long jump and high jump for boys and girls in Class One and Class Two.
The Eastern Championships on February 28, the Anthrick Corporate Area Championships on March 2, the Central Championships on March 8, and then the finals, the G.C. Foster Classic, to be staged on March 11 at the National Stadium, form the quintet of the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Series meetings.
Digicel will provide the winning boys and girls' schools with a top prize of $1 million, with $500,000 going to each runner-up and $200,000 a piece for the third-place schools.
Coaches of the winning schools will each get $50,000, while record breakers will earn $25,000 for championship records and $50,000 for national junior records.