Focus on Edwin Allen
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
Edwin Allen High's girls are poised to dominate the 120th staging of the Penn Relays at the Franklinfield Stadium in Philadelphia.
Following five second-place finishes a year ago, they made their intentions clear on yesterday's opening day of the prestigious meet. They picked up two individual wins while all three relay teams - 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m - are in today's finals with the fastest times.
"Despite the bad weather earlier in the day, I am very pleased with the performances so far from the girls, and after five second-place finishes last year, we are hoping to get at least five wins this time around," head coach Michael Dyke said.
Great opening day
Yesterday was one of the best ever opening days for Jamaica at the meet as there were five wins in individual events.
Carifta Under-20 throwing champion, Rochelle Frazer, gave Edwin Allen their first victory as she captured the discus with a throw of 47.52m, just getting the better of Hydel High's Shadae Lawrence, second with 47.45m.
The world's leading junior female long jumper, Claudette Allen, picked up her school's second win in the event. Allen made up for last year's Penn Relays second place finish with a wind-aided leap of 6.21m. Her teammate Shanice Lewis was third with 5.92m.
"I am happy for the win and also the distance although I feel a bit tired," said Allen, who several minutes earlier, ran a scorching second leg for her school in the 4x100m heats.
Convent of Mercy's (Alpha) Krista Gaye Taylor captured the girls' high jump with a best of 1.79m.
Flying start for Jamaica
Earlier, Vere Technical's Andrenetta Knight gave Jamaica a flying start at the meet. Knight won the 400m hurdles in 58.85 but had to overcome some chest pains ahead of the event.
"I am glad for the win as before the race, I had some chest pains and I had to seek medical attention," said Knight.
An Edwin Allen sweep appears likely in the relays.
Lifted by a great run from Marleena Eubanks with a 2:09.4 split, they won their 4x800m heat in 9.09.23. Holmwood Technical also advanced after winning their heat in 9:12.30. Two other Jamaican teams, St Jago High and Vere, failed to advance. St Jago were third in their heat in 9:21.99, while Vere finished ninth in 9:40.49. Defending champions Columbia High, out of New Jersey, were the third-fastest qualifiers with 9:12.71.
Five Jamaican teams are in the 4x100m Championship relay. Edwin Allen lead the way with the fastest overall time, 45.66. Wolmer's Girls are next with 46.36. Also advancing are defending champions Holmwood (46.70), St Jago (47.15), and Hydel, making their first Championships of America final with 47.22. Former champions, Long Beach Poly, are the best US qualifiers with 46.50.
Convent of Mercy (48.60) and first-time entrants St Catherine High (48.53) advanced to the Consolation finals after winning their heats.
Perhaps, the performance of the day in the relays came in the 4x400m, where Edwin Allen, despite resting two of their better athletes, won their heat in 3:41.63, with Monique Spencer clocking 53.60 on the third leg.
Holmwood, St Jago, St Elizabeth Technical and defending champions Vere are also in the final.
There was also action among collegiate teams with the University of Technology clocking 44.56 to win their 4x100m heat. They are the third-fastest qualifiers for today's Championships of America final. Texas A&M University (44.09) and the University of Oregon (44.30) are the two fastest qualifiers.
The high-school boys will run the heats of their relay events today.