Edwin Allen too strong to lose
Hydel High, St Jago High and Holmwood Technical High schools have all built wonderful teams for the 2017 staging of the Boys and Girls' Championships. Ironically, these three top teams look set to battle each other for second place when the Girls' Championships begin on March 28 inside the National Stadium. The author of the dilemma is Edwin Allen High School, which appear too strong to lose.
If CHAMPS WATCH is right, the Michael Dyke-coached Edwin Allen team will win its fourth straight team title and fifth overall.
Edwin Allen appear capable of scoring 370 points. That's far away from the all-time high, under the current scoring system of 400.5, but is more than enough to win. Hydel, Holmwood and St Jago all come at about 260 on the points scale. That means a tremendous battle for second place in the offing.
The platform for Edwin Allen's success lies in Class Three. Led by record-breaking sprinter Kevona Davis, this group is the only one from any school to have the capability of scoring 100 points. Solid Edwin Allen squads in Classes One, Two and Four should bear the Championship Trophy back to Frankfield.
Early season losses seem to have propelled Cemore Donald to accelerate in the Class Two middle distances. Now, the triple Class Three gold medallist has come through stern tests in the 800 and 1,500 metres to emerge as the Class Two favourite in both events.
The leggy Donald has clocked 2 minutes 08.53 seconds over the 800 metres and her meeting race at that distance with Charokee Young of Hydel may be one of the races of the meet. Young beat Holmwood's Class One star Chrisanni May at the recent G.C. Foster Classic, but lost to Donald in Class Two at Central Champs. She may have more to give.
Dyke's Class Three 800 and 1500m crew isn't any worse since Donald's move up. Rushana Dwyer has run wonderful times and will keep the Edwin Allen flag flying high.
In Class Four, Dyke has assembled an awesome team of sprinters. Just two years after Davis and company twice made history by breaking 47 seconds in the Class Four 4x100m, another Edwin Allen quartet sped to a winning time of 46.30 seconds at Central Champs. That fast four include Serena Cole, the Central 100 metre champion, and nippy Tina Clayton.
Holmwood are back on the rise. The 10-time champion school is limited in Class Four, but are great everywhere else. May, Class Two long jumper Suzan Francis and Class One hurdler Nicolee Foster are prominent names, but when Champs ends, Mishae Harriott could be the Holmwood heroine.
CLOSE TO RECORD
She is encroaching on Kimone Shaw's Class Two 100 metres record of 11.48 seconds with a recent run of 11.50. Though she lost to St Catherine High School standout Julien Alfred of St Lucia at Central Champs, she is coming to Champs in cracking form.
Hydel have come a long way in a short time. New to Champs in 2010, this team isn't far from being genuine Championship contenders. With Corey Bennett at the helm, Hydel have added to their traditional sprints-jumps-relays base a powerful 800-1,500-2,000 steeplechase-3000 unit. World Under-20 discus finalist Devia Brown will lead the Hydel field events team into action.
Hydel's multitalented Shian Salmon is hamstrung by new rules restricting the number of events one athlete can do. She is fast in the 400 and 400 metres hurdles and is a record-breaking high jumper. The same goes for Hydel's second year Glengoffe High transfer, Trishuana Hemmings, who can sprint, long jump and do hurdles. Both are in Class One.
In that class, Roniesha McGregor may show how good Hydel have become in the 400 metres. Last year, she was the only person to beat Junelle Bromfield, then at St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS), over the distance when she beat her head-to-head at the Kirkvine Development meet. This time, STETHS have McGregor's World Under-20 teammate Stacy-Ann Williams, who is fresh from a personal best of 52.62 seconds at the G.C. Foster Classic.
Shaw has arguably been St Jago's best Girls' Championships performer of the last few years. She has won every class and holds the 100 metres records in Classes Two and Four. This season, she and reigning Class Two 200m champion Shaniel English are off the pace and face fast opponents, including Harriot, Alfred and gifted Vere Technical hurdler Brittany Anderson in the 200m.
This year, the top 'Lady Monk' should be Shaw's teammate Tissana Hickling. Second in the Class One long jump and the Open triple jump last year to the now graduated Samara Spencer of Hydel, Hickling has the season's best mark in both events - 6.39m and 13.29 metres, and it isn't really close.
Joanne Reid is being peaked perfectly by head coach Kelando Goburn. The lanky Reid will launch her bid to defend her Class Three 400 metres title from the top of the 2017 performance charts at 54.49 seconds.
Aside from the 5-day battle for team honours, there are events which will be worth the price of entry by themselves. Prime among them is the Class Two 100m hurdles, where Anderson rules. After a loss at the early-season McKenley-Wint Classic to Ray-Donna Lee of Hydel, the Vere girl has routinely gone faster than the Champs record of 13.38 seconds with times of 13.18 and 13.21. The defending champion, Daszay Freeman, has emerged as her main challenger with a personal best of 13.44 behind Anderson at the Carifta Trials. Holmwood's Shanette Allison, a former Class Three and Four winner, is also right up there.
The Class One 100m hurdles should be tasty, too, with Anderson's teammate Amoi Brown upsetting favoured Gabrielle McDonald, now at Edwin Allen, at the Trials. McDonald bounced back to win at Central Champs, but also has to be wary of Janeek Brown, the Wolmerian who has won gold in lower classes at Champs.
Though injuries seem to have slowed 2016 Class One 100 winner Patrice Moody, Edwin Allen seem to have more than enough depth to ride past that difficulty. As a sign of squad depth, shortly after Moody's troubles became apparent, her Class One teammate, Kashieka Cameron, set a personal best of 11.49 to win the Trials 0.05 ahead of St Jago's Aneka Brissett.
It was a sign of how hard it will be to beat Edwin Allen at Champs. Apparently, you can't keep a good team down.