CHAMPS WATCH - KC advances in the 400m
Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
Champs history is replete with excellent Kingston College (KC) student athletes in the 400 metres and its imperially measured predecessor, the 440-yard dash.
Names like Rupert Hoillete, Dennis 'Jahman' Henry, Charlie Headlam, Ian Stapleton and Trevor Campbell roll off the tongues of Champs historians with the respect they deserve. Those legends will be proud to know that a new generation is bringing KC back in the 400 metres.
When Nathaniel Bann won the Class Three 400m in 2013, he became the first KC boy to win the event since Andre Peart in 2004. Last year, Dontre Williams led Bann to a one-two KC domination of the Class Two event and took the gold medal to the purple side of North Street for the first time since Davian Clarke won in 1992.
The last KC Class One 400m winner was Leford Green, who in 2006 became the second runner to break 46 seconds at Champs, with a winning time of 45.82.
Nine years later, his school has a fine Class One aggregation.
Karayme Bartley, a finalist for Garvey Maceo in 2013, is back. Williams is in Class One now, with new team-mates Marco Doonaughtsingh, formerly of Kemps Hill, and Tywayne Crooks, formerly of Vere Technical. Both the new boys were in the Class One final last year and Crooks helped Jamaica to the 4x4x00m bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.
For all of that, the best KC prospect may be tall Akeem Bloomfield. Injured in last year's Class Two 100m final, he is speedy and smooth. He and all the others are certain to prosper at the hand of new KC coach, Neil Harrison. The former Munro College Sportsmaster steered the Malvern school to not one, but two periods of 4x400m dominance.
When he arrived there 18 years ago, he had a unit led by Franz Bernard and Pete Coley winning the Champs 4x400m in 1999 and 2000. He closed his tenure at Munro with a record-breaking team anchored by World Junior 200m champion, Delano Williams, winning at Champs in 2013.
With St Jago's Youth Olympic champion Martin Manley and Jamaica College's (JC) Class Two record holder Devaughn Baker around, regaining the Class One 400m title may be difficult.
However, the depth of the KC squad gives fans another fine team to watch in the 4x400m. St Jago, St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and JC went 1-2-3 at Champs and Calabar ran three minutes 7.00 seconds, the second fastest high school 4x400m time ever, at the Gibson Relays.
St Jago and STETHS are unchanged and while Javon Francis has graduated, Calabar ran fast times without him last year and still have World Youth 200m champion Michael O'Hara.
With Ivan Henry, Nathan Allen, Shamar Barnes and Manley all back at St. Jago and the unrelated Williams boys, Okeen and Marvin, back at STETHS, St Jago's 2014 Champs record - three minutes, 08.31 seconds - is under threat
Some feel, with KC advancing in the 400m and with St Jago, STETHS, JC and Calabar in the mix, that the Jamaican high school record - 3.06.56 by JC in 1991 - could be in danger. That would be a terrific way to crown Boys and Girls' Championships on March 28.
Hubert Lawrence has attended Champs since 1980.