The Butler did it - Upset at 800 metres
At last week's Boys and Girls' Championships, the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) pair of Rayon Butler and Jauavney James surprised their rivals with a one-two finish in the Class One 800 metres.
According to STETHS coach, Reynaldo Walcott, the choice to target gold in that event rested on careful study and preparation. Regarding Butler, he cited the decision to do just one individual event as a key factor.
After Butler and James had produced the fastest Class One 800m times - 1 minute 50.24 seconds and 1:50.27 - at Champs since 1990, Walcott revealed that he had carefully watched the performances of Tyrese Reid of Spot Valley High School and of the St Jago High duo of Leon Clarke and Joel John-Pierre.
He noted that Reid had run well early in the season and improved to 1 minute 51.11 seconds at the Carifta Trials. However, Walcott observed, "When I saw him at the Carifta Trials, I got the impression that they couldn't go any faster based on how I looked at them."
He made a similar assessment of the St Jago boys at Central Championships. After seeing John-Pierre obstruct fast-finishing Christiana's Agerian Jackson to preserve a lead held by Clarke, he deduced, "When I saw that they did, it still struck me as they seemed to be hitting a wall.
"They seemed to be struggling to go faster than the 1:52," was his verdict of a race won by Clarke, a 2015 World Under-18 800m finalist, in 1:52.46.
That seemed to cement the decision to constrain Butler, a former Champs winner at 1500 metres for Holmwood Technical High School, to run only the 800m.
"So when I looked at everything and based on how training was going, I told myself that if Butler does just one event he would have a shot at it because he would approach that race with fresh legs compared to others who would feel the need to double," Walcot said on Monday.
James did double in the 800 and the 400 metre hurdles, but the coach explained, "James has proven that he can do the double or at least handle the double in the past."
Walcott's view was spot on target. as Reid, arrived at Champs with an injury niggle, Clarke and 1500m winner Akeen Colley of Rusea's all did the 800/1500 double.
James had the lead throughout most of the final with a fast-finishing Butler edging home on the line.
"When the race ended, I was happy that they came 1-2." Nevertheless, he had one reservation.
"I couldn't say I was happy that Butler won ... because I coach both of them and I have a soft spot for both of them," he confessed.