Tue | Feb 19, 2019

Last hurrah for Calabar’s dream team

Published:Friday | February 1, 2019 | 12:13 AM
De’Jour Russell (left) and Michael Stephens of Calabar.
Taylor
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Christopher Taylor, De’Jour Russell and Michael Stephens, three members of the high-scoring Calabar High School Dream Team, are heading towards their last Boys and Girls’ Championships. Taylor, the reigning Class One 200 metres champion, and Russell, the two-time 110 metres hurdles champion, are both sad that their time at Calabar is coming to an end. For that reason, they both hope to bow out in style.

“I’m happy and I’m sad at the same time, knowing I’m coming to the end of this wonderful journey,” Taylor said recently, “and I won’t be here to compete for the school but I will be here to represent them even as a Rabalac man still.”

In the same vein, Russell added, “Everything comes to an end at every point, so you know, as my teammate said, I’ll be here to support them in every way.”

Taylor, Russell, Stephens and Tyreke Wilson, who left Calabar a year early for a US sports scholarship, have contributed mightily to Calabar’s seven-year domination of schoolboy athletics since their days in Class Three, with Taylor scoring 86 individual points since he first appeared at Champs, with Russell tallying 82.

Russell, the burly sprinter-hurdler, hopes one day to contribute to his school as a past student. “Giving back is one of the best ways and hopefully, God will carry me to a place where I can give back,” he offered.

CHAMPS PREPARATION

Both boys report that their preparation for this year’s Boys and Girls’ Championships is going well.

“Well, so far, practice is going on fine and I just need to keep focused and put in the work and everything will be OK,” Taylor said.

After some trouble with injury in 2018, Russell is happy to be healthy. “I can say this year is one of the years that God has held me together and I could even compete at the Calabar track meet,” he said. “For the previous years, I never competed at a Calabar track meet because of injuries, and, you know, I think God said it’s my last year and He’s holding me together and, you know, I’m just grateful.”

Taylor, Stephens and Russell all contested the 100 metres at the McKenley/Wint meet and finished in that order, with Taylor winning in 10.55 seconds.

Russell, who has broken the Class One 110 metres hurdles record two years in a row, added: “Practice has been magnificent.” In 2017, he lowered the record to 13.21 and cut it to 13.10 seconds last year.

Together Wilson, Stephens and Russell have ruled at Champs in the 100 metres. Wilson beat Russell in the 2014 Class Three final, with the tables turned in the 2015 Class Two medal race. Stephens joined the fray with a win over Russell in 2016. The sequence continued in Class 1 with Stephens taking gold in 2017 and Wilson winning the 2018 final.

“I’m happy and I’m sad at the same time, knowing I’m coming to the end of this wonderful journey,”