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Hydel primed for Penn relays hat-trick – Salmon

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Charokee Young of Hydel celebrates as she crosses the line, after successfully anchoring the 4x400m relay team to victory in the 4x400m open final at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Former Hydel captain Shian Salmon (left), now representing G.C. Foster College, gets the better of Junelle Bromfield from University of Technology to win her women’s 400 metres heat at the Digicel Grand Prix finals at G.C. Foster College on Saturday, March 16.

Hydel High School is going for a hat-trick at this year’s Penn Relays. Hydel has won the girls’ 4x400-metre relay twice in a row and heads back to storied Franklin Field, the Philadelphia stadium that hosts the celebrated relay carnival, after big wins at home.

Shian Salmon, who was on duty when Hydel won in 2017 and 2018, says there is good reason to believe that her former teammates will win again.

“I definitely think so”, said the 2018 Hydel captain after winning the 400 metre hurdles for the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport at the recent Jamaica Intercollegiate Championships.

“They haven’t lost a 4x400m race even with persons who are not a part of the number one team”, she noted. “So I think with the top four girls that they will be going with, they are going to defend their title.”

Hydel won at the Gibson-McCook Relays, Central Championships, the G.C. Foster Classic and at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships. That last win came in 3 minutes 34.78 seconds with Class One 400m champion Charokee Young on anchor.

Coach Corey Bennett has done some squad rotation, but his aces are current co-captain Young, the Champs Class One 400m and 800m winner, Garriel White, who was with Salmon on the 2017 and 2018 Penn Relays champion quartets, and Class Three gold medallist Onieka McAnuff.

“The girls are deeply motivated”, Salmon submitted.

Challenges will come from home and abroad.

The Bullis School, in Maryland, has run 3 minutes 42.06 seconds indoors. Bullis, whose top runner is hurdler Leah Phillips, has also run 1 minute 37.78 seconds for the indoor 4x200 metres. Even without an adjustment to reflect the wider circumference of outdoor tracks, the time by Bullis would have won all five heats of the Gibson-McCook 4x200 Open.

In Jamaica, Holmwood Technical High School has shown their worth with wins at the Central Hurdles and Relays and at Western Relays. Untimely injuries stopped Holmwood in the Gibson-McCook heats and at Central Championships, but a second-place finish at Champs proved their quality. Led by repeat Class Two 400m champion Daniella Deer, Holmwood presents a clear and present danger.

At Champs, Holmwood clocked 3 minutes 36.09 seconds.

“I just want to tell them to keep focused and to remember all the hard work they put in at training and they surely will deliver when it matters most,” Salmon counselled her former colleagues.

The last team to win three straight Championship of America girls’ 4x400m titles was Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The heats are set for Thursday with the final the following day.

Though her days in a Hydel vest are over, Salmon should see action at Penn as well, as her G.C. Foster unit is Jamaica’s leading entry in the college women’s Championship of America 4x400m. With Salmon aboard, G.C. Foster took the four-lap relay to close a big win in the Intercollegiate team title race on April 13.