Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Blake is back to lead STETHS to the top five again

Published:Tuesday | March 28, 2023 | 1:15 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Shamer Blake of St Elizabeth Technical High School.
Shamer Blake of St Elizabeth Technical High School.

After an injury scare, St Elizabeth Technical High’s (STETHS) team leader Shamer Blake is back to full speed in time for this week’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.

Blake’s super 2023 season climaxed with a big Class One 110 and 400 metres hurdles double at Western Championships. However, alarms blared at the recent Carifta Trials when the undefeated hurdler didn’t face the starter.

“He was feeling a little niggle in his back, so we didn’t want to take that risk to run him at Carifta Trials as we didn’t know what it is,” STETHS head coach Marvin James said last Friday. “We took him to the doctor the same day. He came back healthy. He looked super in practice yesterday. He’s high in confidence as usual, and we’re going out there to execute.”

Blake and Class Two 100m favourite Tremaine Todd are among James’ prime assets.

“Last year was sort of a challenge in terms of the injuries they had. People like Todd were out. Shamer Blake, our top hurdler, fell in the 400m hurdles, and that hindered his performance in the sprint hurdles, and we finished with about 80 something points, with Edwin Allen finishing with 90-something points,” the coach said.

The precise scores were 95 for Edwin Allen High and 88 for STETHS. These teams were sixth and fourth, respectively, in 2021.

Todd, the 2021 Class Three 100m title winner, clocked 10.58 seconds to win the Trials under-17 event. He skipped the 200m there, and Western Champs and James explained why.

“You know, he’s coming from a long-term injury, so I have to be cautious with how heavy I use him,” James explained.

His Class Two squadron includes Carifta under-17 200m champion Ricoy Hunter and a pair of Western champions, 200m victor Sawayne Kerr and 400m winner Odaine Thompson.

“Odaine, he’s really a good prospect,” James said with a bounce in his voice. “Last year, he wasn’t in the best of shape because he was ill for a long period of time also but not injured. Every couple of weeks, he would get some bug, or whatever was passing around, and he seemed to hang on to it.”

That bout of vulnerability is behind Thompson now.

“This year, we have learned to manage it carefully. It’s really an exciting time to be the coach of STETHS, to have all this talent to showcase at Champs for the next five days,” James said.

His Class One group also includes speedy 400m man Jasauna Dennis and sprinter Javorne Dunkley.

“He (Dunkley) works hard, so whatever you are seeing is the result of the hard work he has put in over the season,” James said of the athlete who pursued the outstanding DeAndre Daley in the Western Champs 100m final.

“We are going back for our top five position,” asserted the coach.