André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
While the race for top honours in the boys' section at the 2013 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships seems headed for a straight dogfight, it will take nothing short of a miracle to stop reigning Girls' champions Edwin Allen from ticking off their second straight win.
Defending champions Calabar High will enter today's opening day of what is considered the biggest event of its kind anywhere on the planet knowing fully well that there will be no room for mistakes, with equal ever-present Kingston College (KC) desperate to claw into that 22.5 points difference that determined last year's title.
However, try telling that to assistant coach Omar Hawes, who was a picture of ease and confidence on the eve of what is expected to be five days of fierce competition.
"We are confident that we will be defending our title," said Hawes to The Gleaner. "Champs is a funny event, though, so in some cases, it's touch and go, so to speak, but if all goes well, we should be able to come out on top."
The throwing disciplines
The Red Hills Road-based institution has made the throwing disciplines its bread and butter, and with World Youth Champion Fedrick Dacres among the ranks, conditioned by throws coach Julian Robinson, Hawes is once again banking on raking in the points in this particular area. However, the defending champions are confident they have done the work and will be looking for solid contribution from the entire team.
"We normally bank on the throws, and everything is once again going well in that area. The middle distance is on stream and looks good as well. We are still strong in the jumps and hurdles, but it's the overall performance of the team that we are really counting on," Hawes added.
So how many points will it take to win Boys' Champs this year?
To defend title
Hawes believes his team will need to come close to the 287.5 points that it registered last year if it is to successfully defend the title.
Head coach of KC, Michael Russell, strongly believes that the North Street-based institution will win the title for the first time since their 1.5-point victory over Calabar in 2009.
"We will be going out there to do our best as we worked very hard in training. We have also done very well in the various meets leading up to the Championships," Russell told The Gleaner yesterday.
Russell added: "We expect a close finish, but we can pull it off. Our main rivals should be Calabar, but we won't take any other team for granted. In 2011, it was expected to be a two-horse race between KC and Calabar, but Jamaica College won Champs that year. We are not taking any team lightly."
On the girls' side, even though they have disappointed in the past, it's probably more likely that a meteorite would land at the National Stadium than it would be for Edwin Allen to relinquish their title this year.
While their main rivals, Holmwood Technical, who were on a nine-year winning streak before Edwin Allen disrupted the party, continues their rebuilding efforts, the defending champions seem just as menacing as they were a year ago, showing tremendous depth and quality in the field and on the track.
The girls from Frankfield in Clarendon chalked up a massive 346 points en route to their first hold of the coveted Girls' title last year - 124 points more than second-placed Holmwood.
Edwin Allen head coach Michael Dyke is certain his team is in a good position to hold on to its title and is looking to pile on the pressure on his rivals from the get go.
"We had some problems in the early stages, but we are good now. We are expecting to do very well over the first two days, and that will ensure that we pull away from our rivals from early," said Dyke.
The five-day championships gets under way today with 14 preliminary-round events, including the sprint hurdles and steeplechase. The first event is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start with the day's action set to close at 6:10 p.m.