Penns party! - Jamaicans ready to excite in Philly
The country's top young athletes will be on show over the next three days as the 124th staging of the Penn Relays gets started today at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania.
Heavyweight Jamaican high schools such as Edwin Allen, Holmwood Technical, Hydel, Vere Technical, Petersfield, Rusea's, and St Jago High, among the girls, and Kingston College, Calabar, St Jago, Petersfield, and St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS), among the boys, are expected to show their quality over the next few days.
The females will take centre stage today with Edwin Allen, Hydel, and Holmwood looking to retain their Championships of America titles in the 4x100m, 4x400m, and 4x800m relays.
Helped by perfect conditions last year, the Jamaicans registered impressive times in winning their respective events, but are this time greeted with tough weather conditions and a deep chill in the forecast for today's opening day.
Today will see action in the preliminary round of all relays for the females, while individual events, which are straight finals, will get under way this morning at 9:20 a.m. (Jamaica time).
Sanique Walker is expected to give the Jamaicans a flying start in the 400 metre hurdles, where three other Jamaicans in Johnelle Thomas of St. Catherine High, Lavaun Stephenson of St Jago, and STETHS' Winsome Harris are listed to compete.
Strangely enough, Hydel's Shiann Salmon, the Champs 2018 and Carifta Games Under-20 champion and record holder, has not been entered.
"Shiann has a slight ache in her hamstring, and she is feeling a little discomfort, and with her participation in the relays, we are not taking any chances," said Hydel coach Corey Bennett during a chat with The Gleaner.
Defending 4x800m champion Holmwood Technical will be the first Jamaican team on the track as they will compete in Heat Two of that event at 9:40 a.m., with their neighbours, Spalding, competing 10 minutes later.
Edwin Allen, led by the outstanding Kevona Davis, will start their 4x100 metres title defence when they feature in the first heat at 10:35 a.m. with Hydel, St Jago, Rusea's, Vere, St Catherine, Immaculate, Queen's, and Manchester high schools also expected to face the starter.