KC, Edwin Allen favourites to retain Champs titles
Five-day meet begins today at National Stadium
With fierce battles expected and close races for both the boys and girls’ titles, defending champions Kingston College (KC) and Edwin Allen High begin their quest to retain their crowns as the 113th ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys And Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) begins today at 9 a.m. at the National Stadium.
KC are gunning for their first back-to-back boys titles since 2005-06 and their 34th overall while Edwin Allen look to become the third school to win nine straight girls’ titles and their tenth overall.
Amid improvements from Calabar High under first-year head coach Corey Bennett and the constant presence of Jamaica College, KC head coach Leaford Grant says that he is banking on the changes that have been made from the team that won the Corporate Area championships two weeks ago to stand and deliver the required points to get them over the line.
“We are expected to perform as defending champions. As usual, we are going out there to do our best. The youngsters are ready to go. Everything comes back down to preparation and how we deliver on the day. Once the boys are fit and ready, I think we can retain the championship,” Grant told The Gleaner.
While Edwin Allen have gone through change this season in their personnel, head coach Michael Dyke believes that they are strong as a collective unit and capable enough to keep hold of their crown.
“We don’t have the same quality in terms of the different outstanding individuals, but we have a nice spread across the different classes. We might not be as dominant as we used to be in terms of winning a lot of events, but we are still a force to be reckoned with in terms of scoring consistently across the different classes,” Dyke said.
Edwin Allen are expected to be strongly challenged by Hydel High and Holmwood Technical for the girls’ title and Spanish Town-based St Jago High and St Catherine High should also do very well.
While Edwin Allen have lost the outstanding Tina Clayton in the Class One 100m, they still have a top talent in the form of Serena Cole, who begins her campaign in the Class One Girls’ 100 metres preliminaries, which start at 5:22 p.m. Cole, who enters Champs with the fastest time this season at 11.18 seconds, lines up in heat one while contenders Alexis James of Petersfield High will be in heat two, and Hydel’s Alana Reid will be in heat three, both of them entering Champs with the third fastest times in the event (11.24)
For the boys, KC’s Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, the favourite for the title, will begin in heat one, having run twice under 10.20 this season. With Edwin Allen’s Bryan Levell not able to defend his Class One title, Herbert Morrison’s DeAndre Daley and Jamaica College’s Jaiden Reid, who have the third and fourth fastest times respectively, will hope to be in the mix to cause a surprise.
Among the preliminaries in the opening session, Jamaica College’s Kemario Bygrave’s path to a middle-distance double begins with the Class One Boys’ 1500m heats, which start at 10:40 a.m. Edwin Allen’s Delano Kennedy, last year’s Carifta Games Under-20 400m champion, will start his pursuit of the Class One Boys’ 400m title when the first round begins at 1:35 p.m. In the field, the Class One long jump will start at 9:44 a.m., with Jamaica College’s Uroy Ryan among the favourites in the event.