Girls lead off at Penns
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
AFTER last week's all-conquering performances from the country's junior athletes at the Carifta Games in Martinique, where they hauled in a record 89 medals, Jamaica's high-school teams will look to take their dominating act to North America at the prestigious Penn Relays.
The 120th staging of the three-day event begins this morning at the Franklin Field Stadium.
A lot of the athletes arrived here in the wee hours yesterday morning after an extensive travelling schedule, which included going to Martinique for the Carifta Games, which ended on Monday.
While there will be an extra day rest for the boys, the girls will bow into action this morning in relay and individual events.
After dominating all season, all eyes will be on the Michael Dyke-coached Edwin Allen girls team, which is expected to improve drastically on five second-place finishes a year ago.
Despite arriving early yesterday morning, the Edwin Allen team had a morning workout on a football field close to their hotel and all the girls looked good, including Saqukine Cameron, who had a scare at the Carifta Games on Monday in the 200m finals for Under-20 girls. Cameron stopped in her event and appeared to have suffered from a severe injury.
"Cameron is good to go, as she stopped in the event after a slight calf cramp," said Dyke.
Cameron is a member of the special 4x100m quartet which created history two weeks ago at the UTech Classics in Kingston after a splendid World high-school record 43.95 seconds, the only high-school team ever to go sub-44. She will once again partner Christania Williams, Monique Spencer and Claudette Allen in chase of the Penn Relay record of 44.32 seconds, set by Vere Technical in 2004.
The Edwin Allen team will take the track at 11:45 a.m. Jamaica time.
Before this race, however, eight other Jamaican teams, including defending champions Holmwood Technical, will make their appearance as the second Jamaican team to compete. Convent of Mercy, Alpha, will be the first Jamaican team in the 4x100m, at 10:10 a.m. (Jamaica time). Other Jamaican schools to compete in the 4x100 are St Andrew Technical, St Jago High, The Queen's School, Manchester High, Hydel High and Wolmer's Girls.
Three Jamaican schools - Holmwood, St Jago and Vere - will line up in the same 4x800m heat (9:30 a.m.) and they are all expected to advance. Favourites Edwin Allen, also the number-one team in the 4x400m, will be the last Jamaican team to compete in the heats when they take the track at 3:10 p.m.
Queen's, Tacius Golding, St Jago, Holmwood Technical, St Elizabeth Technical, Manchester High, Hydel, Wolmer's, Rusea's and defending champions Vere Technical will also compete.
Jamaican athletes will also go for glory in individual events, with the discus throw first up at 10:15 a.m. Rochelle Frazer of Edwin Allen, who is the top seed, will be hoping to carry over her good form in the Carifta Games, where she landed the throws double. Her teammate, Tasha Crosse, Hydel's Shadae Lawrence, Excelsior High's Shanice Love and Kristen Deacon of Wolmer's Girls, will also battle for honours.
Following her close second in the Under-20 girls' long jump at Carifta, Edwin Allen's Claudette Allen, the number-one junior in the World this year - with a 6.45m leap at Champs - will be going for a big win. Her teammate, Shanice Lewis, along with Manchester High's Anastassia Forrester, will also participate in the event, which starts at 12:45 p.m. The triple jump will be held simultaneously and Shardia Lawrence of Hydel is the only Jamaican entered.
The other individual events involving Jamaicans will be the high jump at 1:30 p.m. and shot put at 2:30 p.m. Alpha's Krista Gay Taylor and Manchester High's Sharee McKenzie will compete in the high jump, while Vere's Kiona Bradshaw and Manchester's Isheka Binns are down for the shot put.