Sat | Jul 20, 2019

Immaculate set to impress at Champs 2019

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2019 | 12:27 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer
Immaculate Conception’s Onanda Lowe competing in the Girls Class Three Long Jump at the Digicel/Anthrick Corporate Area Championships held at The National Stadium on March 8, 2019.
Immaculate Conception’s Onanda Lowe competing in the Girls Class Three Long Jump at the Digicel/Anthrick Corporate Area Championships held at The National Stadium on March 8, 2019.

Immaculate Conception High School is known mostly for its academic achievements, but the school from Constant Spring Road has enjoyed good results in track and field in the past, finishing third in 1999 at the Girls’ Championships with several top-five finishes to their credit as well.

After seeing their performances drop for several years, the school, which has produced the likes of Danielle Jeffrey, Samantha Elliot, Misha Gaye Dacosta, and Jeanine Williams, is once again on the rise and come March 26-30 at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, they should be one of the top teams from the Corporate Area with a top-10 finish a likely outcome. This would represent improvement on their 12th-place effort last year.

Immaculate has been very competitive in the lower classes all season, including at the Gibson McCook Relays, where they had top-three finishes in Class Three and Four 4x100m relays. They cemented their good form with with an impressive showing at the recent Digicel/Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet, where they finished a good second behind Excelsior High .

“It was a wonderful experience for the girls, and they are all thrilled with this, and it is a confidence-booster for them going into the Championships in two weeks,” said Franz Ford, who has guided the track and field programme for the past eight years.

“We are expecting a good show from all the girls, especially the younger ones, as they are giving signals, and we are trying to develop from Class Four right up,” said Ford. “It is very difficult for us to have a strong senior unit because by the time our girls reach sixth form, they do leave so we lose most of them in Class Two or first year Class One.”

Armstrong creating waves

One of his charges this year in Jounee Armstrong, who is creating waves among Class Four athletes after producing some of the best results in 100m, 200m, long and high jump in the class and was in immaculate form at the Corporate Area Championships, winning the 200m and the long jump. In the long jump, she produced an eye-popping 5.85 metres – the longest-ever distance by a Class Four athlete.

“Jounee is a hard worker. She is coming from Vaz Prep, where she had a very good coach, and I am just adding to what he had done. She is not a hard athlete to deal with. She takes instructions very well, and the sky’s the limit for her,” Ford said.

He also expects good performances from the likes of Lori Choy in the long and high jumps along with Misha-Jade Samuels in the high jump in Class Four, Onanda Lowe and Gabrielle Lyn in Class Three sprints, Hughasia Fyffe in the sprints in Class Three, Danielle Sloley in the throws in Class One, and team captain Shantelle Riley in Class One sprints.

Ford is definitely aiming for a top-10 finish at Champs this time around.

“Last year, we finished 12th with 37 points, and our aim was to hit the 80 points mark, but that did not work out as planned, and we want to do so this time, and wherever that puts us, we will be quite content with that as it’s about small steps at a time as we do not have a big squad, but we do have quality girls,” said Ford.

“I am calling on our old girls and supporters to come out and give the girls your support as the athletes have been feeling the support all year long, and we want them to continue doing so because they really like to hear their voices in the crowd. This really helps to motivate them.”