Fast-forward to Penn with Edwin Allen's 4x800
Some of our high-school coaches are already thinking ahead to the 123rd staging of the world-renowned Penn Relays.
In fact, Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School has been planning for the Penn 4x800 metres since the start of the year. After a fine run by his team last Saturday, his plans may have to be upgraded.
Ashanni Robb, Kara Grant, Kayann Green and Cemore Donald won the eight-lap event at the Gibson McCook Relays in eight minutes 47.71 seconds over a stubborn Holmwood Technical High School team. The runner-up school harried Edwin Allen past a meet record set by Holmwood in 2006. The reward for the 2017 Holmwood girls was a fine time of 8 minutes 49.71 seconds.
In an interview in January after a loss to Holmwood at the Central Hurdles and Relays, Dyke revealed that he is programming his team to peak at Penn. Met with the suggestion that his 4x800 team could speed this season, he said, "I definitely think so and I'd be disappointed if we don't win the 4x8 this year, especially at the Penn Relays", said the soft-spoken Dyke, "because that's what we are gearing towards; and the sort of experience and quality that we have, there's no reason that we should not."
The Gibson McCook victory snapped a two-meet losing streak Holmwood had over Edwin Allen. While he acknowledges that his rivals are very good, Dyke reported, "I normally start the season like that, especially in the 4x8 - touch and go and feel out persons - but I know the complete four that will eventually mature into the top team when it's necessary."
Holmwood had beaten Dyke's team at the Central meet and the Western Relays with nearly identical times of 8.57.50 and 8.57.54. At Gibson McCook, Holmwood improved their season's best by approximately eight seconds but lost. Grant keyed the Edwin Allen success with her strong second-leg run of two minutes 09.1 seconds.
If Dyke's January projections are anything to go by, his team's performance at Gibson McCook would have been a surprise. Asked then if his 2017 unit could challenge the Penn Relay record of 8 minutes 37.71 seconds set by Vere Technical in 1991, he said, "I don't think it will be that easy to run that fast with this team."
He added, "but I'm optimistic, and anything is possible."
He was right. Asked in January how fast the team would run at the 41st staging of the venerable Jamaican relay event, he said, "Well, we are in about 8.50, thereabouts, based on our preparations and where we're at."
"So I think 8.50 would be a good time for us at the Gibson McCook Relays," he concluded.
Vere, Edwin Allen and Holmwood are the fastest three schools in Penn 4x800 history. In addition to the record held by Vere, a Ristananna Tracey-anchored 2011 Edwin Allen team completed the journey in 8 minutes 39.22 seconds, with Holmwood clocking 8.41.92 in 2008.