Eastern athletes ready to shine
Arch-rivals St Mary High and Buff Bay High are again expected to fight for the title at the second meet of the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Series, the Eastern Championships, at the UWI-Usain Bolt Track tomorrow.
The head coach of Titchfield High, Julian Ivy, welcomes the Digicel Grand Prix initiative, calling it "a wonderful idea.
"Most of the schools in the Eastern region are really strapped for cash," he said.
"The eastern region is looked upon as the least in track and field in Jamaica. However, we've produced a lot of top athletes who have gone on to excel at the highest international level; and we've to understand that before they got to that stage, these coaches aided their development," Ivy added.
Some of the most notable include Morant Bay High alumnus Juliet Cuthbert, who won sprint double silver at the Barcelona Olympics; and another Morant Bay High star - who later transferred to Kingston College - sprint hurdler Hansle Parchment. Parchment won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.
Competition away from their training grounds this season has been sparse for most schools participating at the Eastern Championships, but St Mary High's boys and girls have shown all-round strength at some of the development meets.
These include The Queen's Grace Jackson Invitational and Camperdown Classic, with Class Two girls Keresa Richardson, Janaeli Campbell and Kay-ann James looking dominant among the Eastern Championship entrants, along with Class Two boy Lenard Hall.
The latter is particularly strong in the 800m, where his female colleagues also appear quite strong in Classes One and Two, with Tameria Howell (Class Two) and Shanice Panton (Class One) headlining their charge.
Among the boys' sprinters, Morant Bay's Jaheim Henry and Annotto Bay's Kenoy Francis have done fairly well and should be among the Class Two front-runners, with St Mary High's Travis Henry and Nicardo Vincent also expected to shine.
Among Class One girls, Morant Bay's Tishelle Fulcott and Nneka Francis, along with Oberlin High's Latoya Graham, should feature.
Though Buff Bay High have not shown their hand, they have gone toe to toe with St Mary High for the championship in recent years and are expected to feature big time again.
"Right now, it's between Buff Bay and St Mary High," Ivy predicted. "Morant Bay will be coming strong as well.
"We (Titchfield) are not expecting to be in the top three, as we've a fairly young team."
Nonetheless, Ivy said his Class One boys, Kai Chang and Moses Parkinson, will place high in the Class One Digicel Grand Prix Championship events, the high jump and discus.
The Digicel Grand Prix Championship events are the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, long jump, high jump, discus and 4x400m relays for Classes One and Two boys' and girls.
The series consists of five meets and the top two athletes from each of the Digicel Grand Prix Championship events will advance to the final, the G.C. Foster Classics, which will be held at the National Stadium on March 11.
Each athlete can only participate in one individual event at the final, which carries a grand prize of $1 million dollars in gym equipment for the top boys' and girls' schools, $500,000 for second, and $250,000 for third.