Tue | May 21, 2019

Chris Taylor could make Penn Relays

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2019 | 12:17 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Calabar High School captain Christopher Taylor could be ready to run at the 125th Penn Relays, set for April 24-26 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, even if he is unavailable, Calabar hope to complete a hat-trick of wins in the Championship of America 4x100 metres.

Speaking in the Cayman Islands at the 48th Carifta Games, Calabar assistant coach Omar Hawes said, “As you know, Chris was having some discomfort during Champs (the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships). We pulled him. We’re still doing some medical work, and if he’s back to full competition mode, he’ll be at Penn.”

Taylor struggled to second place in the Class One boys’ 400m and did not take his place in the 200m final. The 2015 World Under-18 400m gold-medal winner was on duty for Calabar in 2017 when the ‘Green and Blacks’ set a Penn Relay and Jamaican high-school record of 39.00 seconds. He returned to help Calabar defend their title in 2018. According to Hawes, the team management is planning for all possibilities. “If not,” he considered, should Taylor be unavailable, “we’ll have to dig deep in the treasures we have at Calabar.”

Those treasures include the last two Boys and Girls’ Championships gold medallists, Michael Stephens and Oblique Seville, and former Class Two 100m champion DeJour Russell.

Seville added the Carifta Under-20 100m title to his growing list of credits on Saturday after speeding to a time of 10.13 seconds at Champs.

Russell, the 2017 World Under-18 110m hurdles champion, could be Calabar’s trump card.

“Looking back to full fitness since the last time I saw him before I left Jamaica was DeJour Russell,” Hawes said. “So we’re looking at just putting a team together, change up the baton passes, get some good understanding [of] which leg to run and all that,” he said.

Usually, Taylor, Stephens and Russell run the last three legs, but Hawes said there are going to be rearrangements.

Fierce competition

Competition in Philadelphia will be fierce as Jamaica College, Calabar and Kingston College (KC) have all won important local races this season. Jamaica College clocked 40.22 seconds to win at the Western Relays in early February but lost to a Calabar team with Taylor at the Gibson McCook Relays at the end of that month. Calabar was, however, disqualified for a baton-passing violation.

Wolmers’ Boys’ School inherited that win. At Champs, KC built on a fine start from in-form long jump and hurdles star Wayne Pinnock to beat Calabar 39.98 to 40.15 seconds.

Taylor did not run that race. Nevertheless, Hawes can see Calabar completing a hat-trick last accomplished by Wolmers’ Boys’ School in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

“That’s the plan, but, as you know, you have to put the thing together on the day, so I think we have a team that can go out and perform well enough,” he said. “Hopefully, the stick gets around, and we should be good.”

Calabar did a Penn triple last year, with Taylor helping his school to a fast win in the 4x400m relay in 3:03.79 minutes. In the boys’ 4x800m, Calabar sped to a meet record of 7:26.09 minutes.