Mon | Dec 9, 2019

Petersfield eye Western Champs boys’ title

Published:Saturday | February 16, 2019 | 12:18 AM

When the starter’s pistol cracks for the first time on the final day of Western Championships in Santa Cruz today, Petersfield High will start atop the male team standings. It’s a position the school’s coach, Machel Woolery, hopes he will remain in when the meet is over. With that in mind, he has been working to broaden the range of events Petersfield is proficient in.

The lead is slender, with Petersfield on 99.5 points, with defending champion school St Elizabeth Technical on 91 and Cornwall third with 74.

Known for its ongoing production of throwers, Petersfield now has sprinters of quality and has branched out into the hurdles. Woolery says the change is deliberate. “Well, we have to widen the base,” he said in Santa Cruz in January. “We want to crown ourselves champions in the western area,” he expanded, “so to challenge for the title, we have to spread our wings.”

Throwers like Kevin Nedrick, Sanjay Lawrence, Daniel Cope and Glenford Watson have made an impact for Petersfield.

Last year, with Antonio Watson winning a Class Two 200 and 400 metres double, Woolery’s team moved up from a seemingly perennial third place finish to second.

The improvement is no accident. “It’s deliberate, you know,” he confided. “This year, we take on a few hands, persons to assist in the technical areas, jumps, and hurdles, the technical side of things, to improve our hurdling techniques,” he said.

New focus

The new focus has seen Watson and Shaquena Foote turn to the 400 metre hurdles, with Foote establishing herself as one of the early favourites for Boys and Girls’ Championships.

Her teammate, Hisseno Stewart is also among the fastest in the nation in that event.

Most of the additional ‘hands’ have come from past students. “I have some past students who have come on board and say they want to help the programme from a coaching perspective, so that gives me room to spread my wings round and can spend more time in other areas and I just focus on throws and probably quarter-mile and a few stars,” Woolery said.

Led by Foote and Carifta 200 metres champion Ockera Myrie, the girls’ team has been solid too. Fourth in 2014, the little ladies from Petersfield have finished third in 2016, 2017, and 2018.