Sun | Mar 24, 2019

Petersfield’s Watson ready again

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 12:12 AM
Woolery
Woolery

Antonio Watson gave fans at last Saturday’s Western Relays more evidence of his exciting potential. Running anchor for the Petersfield High School 4x400 metres team, Watson sped through his leg in 45.6 seconds. The effort moved Petersfield into the runner-up spot and put Watson back on the radar.

That relay split was the fastest in the high school race and wouldn’t have been out of place in the men’s event.

According to Petersfield coach Machel Woolery, the 2017 World Under-18 four hundred metres champion is relearning how to run the one-lap event.

“We’re working on the execution, and we’re trying to change the way he approaches running the 400 metres,” said Woolery recently.

Usually, Watson goes out slowly and then charges through the last part of his races. That tactic earned him the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships Class Two title last year but could be a liability in the future.

“I know that,” Woolery conceded, “and he has a few little issues, and he said this year, he’s ready, and so far, he looks good.”

The 17-year-old will go for gold in Class One on Saturday at the Western Championships, having comfortably qualified for the final earlier this week at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS). He won the Class Two title last year and has already clocked 47.55 seconds in 2019.

MAIN FOCUS

The clock is his focus this year. “This season, we just want to really run fast,” Woolery said of the 46.45 seconds racer. “We’re just going to the Carifta Games. We don’t think we’re going to Pan-Am this year,” he surmised. “We have had a rough two years, and we’re looking at the World Juniors next year, so I think we might close early this year and give him enough rest to approach World Juniors next year,” explained coach Woolery.

Watson took the 200 metres silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in October. “We really wanted it, the gold medal,” he said, “however, he came with a silver – not bad.”

It seems that Watson may not run too many 200-metre races this season despite gold-medal performances in 2018 at Western Championships, and Boys and Girls’ Championships, and a personal best of 20.90 seconds. At the Western Relays, he ran the 400 metres hurdles, and at Western Championships, he is again doing that event and not the 200m.

CAUTIOUS RUN

A cautious run at the Western Relays produced a time of 55.53 seconds.

If Watson hopes to win that event on Saturday at the Western Championships finals, he will have to improve. Dashinelle Dyer of STETHS, a school known for its prowess in the 400 metres hurdles, won the McKenley/Wint Classic in 53.31 seconds. Brithon Senior of Rusea’s High, Dyer’s schoolmate, Rashane Bartlett, and Javed Jones of B.B. Coke High all have better times.

Notably, Senior and Jones are the highest returners from last year’s final and clocked 53.62 and 54.19 seconds, respectively, for third and fourth place. Dyer, Jones, Senior, and Watson all won their preliminary races on Tuesday, with Bartlett safe in second behind Jones, who had the fastest qualifying time on the grass at Herbert Morrison High – 55.50 seconds.