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Penns showdown - Jamaicans hunt glory at prestigious relay carnival

Published:Thursday | April 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer

PHILADELPHIA, USA:

JAMAICA's senior men's and high school teams will be looking to unleash golden performances at the Penn Relays - arguably the leading track and field event in North America .

The 116th staging of the prestigious event will blast off this morning at the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin Field, Philadelphia.

This year's meet is expected to draw record crowds, especially on Saturday's final day as with world 100 and 200 metres record holder, Usain Bolt, down to compete in the 4x100 metres relay for Jamaica vs the United States, there has been a great frenzy.

Over 30 high schools and colleges from Jamaica will be in action, with females kicking off action on the opening day in individual and relay events.

Edwin Allen High's Ristananna Tracey will be the first Jamaican in action this morning, when she competes in the high school girls' 400 metres hurdles at 9:20 a.m. The second-ranked athlete in the field with a season-best 58.58, recorded while winning the gold medal at this year's Carifta Games, Tracey will be hoping to emulate her sister, Nikita, who won the gold last year.

Manchester High's ShaunaGaye Tracey and Monique Lovelock of the Convent of Mercy Academy, Alpha, are the other Jamaicans in this event.

In other individual finals today, Jamaican athletes are well represented in the high, long and triple jumps. St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) Peter Gaye Reid will be seeking to make three in a row in the high jump, while her teammate, Rochelle Farquharson, seeks back-to-back success in the triple jump.

Top seed Chanice Porter, of Manchester High, will lead the charge in the long jump, where Camperdown High's Nickeava Wilson, Holmwood Technical Nickeisha Beaumont and Alpha's Tatiana Wolfe are down to compete.

Leading teams

The preliminary round of the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800-metre relays will also be contested today, with the 4x800 metres getting under way at 9:30 a.m. Defending champions Edwin Allen, Manchester High and Holmwood Technical are the leading Jamaican teams.

Alpha will be the first Jamaica team to take the track in the 4x100 metres when they take the field in the Small Schools section at 10:10 a.m. They will be followed by Holmwood Technical, William Knibb, Manchester High, Herbert Morrison, The Queen's School, St Jago and defending champions Vere Technical. Edwin Allen, the 2008 champions, and St Andrew High, will take the track at 11:15 a.m. in the Large Schools section.

Eleven Jamaican schools, led by defending champions Edwin Allen, will take the track at 2:25 p.m. in the 4x400 metres. Other teams down to participate are St Andrew, Tacius Golding, St Hugh's, Herbert Morrison, STETHS, Manchester, St Jago, Alpha, Holmwood and Vere.