It's all systems go for the over the distance, the season-opening Wesley Powell Track Meet, which gets under way at 8:30 a.m. at Excelsior's Courtney Walsh Oval today.
Seventy-six events, 24 schools, and close to 1,200 athletes were the numbers shared by David Riley, member of the organising committee, as he looked forward to today's 11th staging of the meet, which serves as an opportunity for coaches to gauge the fitness of their athletes ahead of the fast-approaching track and field season.
The Wesley Powell Track Meet features seldom-run events that are traditionally longer, such as the 300m which is mostly used by 100m and 200m specialists for strength endurance purposes.
Riley, who is the head coach at Excelsior High School, underlined the meet's relevance and noted the introduction of the pole vault to this year's schedule.
GREAT FOR PREPARATION
"It's very important when you go through the preparation phase of your training regime that you want to see certain targets and performances over distance," said Riley. "It's a good indication of the condition of the athletes, and it gives an idea of whether you can proceed with stepping them down to their regular events."
It appears that his colleagues see things the same way, with most of the expected protagonists for the upcoming season registered with the promise to send their strongest possible athletes.
"Up to 10 a.m. (yesterday), we had close to 1,000 athletes registered and we are still receiving a lot of entries, so I expect this to be the biggest staging of the event with close to 1,200 athletes," Riley said.
"Vere Technical will be sending a team for the first time and, of course, they are always very competitive on the girls' side," he added.
St Jago, St Andrew High, Wolmer's, Hydel, and Covenant of Mercy (Alpha) are some of the other big name programmes with teams entered in the girls' category.
All the usual suspects are also expected among the boys, with Jamaica College, Kingston College, Wolmer's, Camperdown and Cornwall College set to send teams as well.
"We are running the 4x300m again this year. This is the second year and it's interesting as we have some very strong entries," Riley added. "The pole vault is the new event. It will give the vaulters an opportunity to get early workouts in terms of the heights and getting ready for Champs."
Entry to the meet is free with the opening events set to be the 5,000m open and shot put girls.
- André Lowe