Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
The Eastern Secondary Schools Sports Association (ESSSA)/Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Track and Field Championship promises to be another competitive affair when more than 900 athletes representing 21 schools compete in 80 events next Monday and Tuesday at the National Stadium.
The meet is slated to run off at 8 a.m. on both days, as the organisers strive to cross the finish line by 6 p.m.
The championship, which is in its 27th year, has attracted one new school with Iona High of St Mary slated to make their first appearance. Carron Hall and Marymount High have, however, dropped out of this year's staging.
"They (Iona) sent in a request to be associated with ESSSA, and we welcome them," Richard A. Thompson, chairman of ESSSA, said during yesterday's launch at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston.
Thirty of the 80 events down to be contested have been sponsored and while there are no new events, meet director Garth Gayle is promising two days of top-quality competition.
"We already have over 80 events for the two days, so it's unlikely that we will be adding a next event, because we are already full," Gayle shared.
DIFFERENT YEAR, SAME RESULTS
Last year's championship went down to the final event, with Oberlin High of St Andrew emerging victors by a mere 2.5 points over Portland's Buff Bay High. Oberlin's coach, Everton Leslie, is expecting things to go down to the wire yet again.
"This year, I am expecting almost the same thing," Leslie said. "We are champions and we are accustomed to being champions, so we want to retain the championship. I am not taking any opponent for granted, but Buff Bay will give us the strongest challenge, along with St Mary High School and Titchfield."
The championships is credited for unearthing talent such as Olympians Juliet Cuthbert and Hansle Parchment while one participant who is expected to shine bright this year is St Mary High's Jodean Williams, who broke the Class One 100m, 200m and 400m records in 2012. She is expected to share the spotlight with Morant Bay's Romar Foster and Oberlin's Margaret McKay.
"The ESSSA/JNBS Champs plays an invaluable role in the development of the athletic programmes at secondary schools in rural eastern parishes," assistant general manager, group marketing, sales and promotions JNBS, Leon Mitchell, expressed. "We are proud of the consistent growth in the quality and competence of the athletes each year, and most of all the sense of pride that this championship engenders in our students."
Hi-Lyte Sport Drink will, for the second consecutive year, be the hydration sponsor of the championships.
Full Caption: Ricardo Martin (left), sales and marketing executive at Hi-Lyte Sport Drink, discussing sponsorship of the upcoming Eastern Secondary Schools Sports Association's (ESSSA) championships with George Pryce (right), principal of Glengoffe High School, Leon Mitchell (second right), assistant general manager, group marketing, sales and promotions, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), and Richard Thompson (second left) chairman of ESSSA. The men were at yesterday's launch of the 2013 championships at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston. - Ian Allen/Photographer