Excelsior goes 'Full Hundred' for Champs
Excelsior High School is planning to go the "Full One Hundred" for the 2017 ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships as the team's head coach, David Riley, said the aim is for both male and female teams to earn at least 100 points each next week.
"It's a just a target for the kids to work toward. Last year it was to finish in the top 10. The girls' team was sixth and the boys' finished seventh, and this year we want to get 100 points," Riley told The Gleaner.
In 2016, the girls' team earned 80.5 points, while the boys earned 63 points.
The girls' team was second overall at the Digicel Grand Prix Final earlier this month but Riley said the strategy for Champs will be different.
"It's two different competitions, so our strategies are different. We placed athletes in Champs differently from how we would have placed them for the Grand Prix," he added.
Riley took over at Excelsior five seasons ago two years after leading Wolmer's Boys school to the 2010 Boys' championships title.
The coach, a past student of both schools, said while some coaches have a five-year plan, he had something different in mind.
"The plan was really just to rebuild the track and field programme where the best students were participating in the sport, which was not the case," he explained.
"The football team had won the Manning Cup and was the second-winningest team in the Walker Cup, but track and field was languishing. That means that the students were athletic but they were just not participating in track and field," he explained.
He noted that other schools across the country seem to have a similar problem.
"There are so many different schools where the kids are participating in one sport at the school, but not in another, so that was one of the challenges that we faced. The first meeting at the school, we had 12 athletes at the team meeting
and that was the full team. They said one person was missing," he laughed.
Things have changed over the years and now while students are still not clambering to be part of the team there is a lot more interest.
"It's still very competitive in terms of the national landscape, so you have kids doubting if they can reach those levels, so you have to be dealing with that particular issue but the fact that students see their team mates reaching great levels, that has actually done a lot of good for us," he said.
One former student, Shanice Love, who is now at Florida State University, won the Class One discus with a record throw at the 2016 championships.