Edwin Allen looks good again
Hydel High, St Jago High and Holmwood Technical High schools have all built wonderful teams for the 2017 staging of Boys and Girls' Championships. Ironically, this trio of top teams look set to battle each other for second place when Girls Championships begins on March 28 inside the National Stadium. The author of the dilemma is Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School, which appears too strong to lose.
If CHAMPS WATCH is right, the Michael Dyke coached Edwin Allen team will win its fourth straight team title and fifth overall.
Edwin Allen appear capable of scoring 370 points. That's far away from the all time high, under the current scoring system, of 400.5 but is more than enough to win. Hydel, Holmwood and St Jago all come at about 260 on the points scale. That means a tremendous battle for second place in the offing.
The platform for Edwin Allen's success lies in Class Three. Led by record breaking sprinter Kevona Davis, this group is the only one from any school to have the capability of scoring 100 points. Solid Edwin Allen squads in class 1, 2 and 4 should bear the Championship trophy back to Frankfield.
Early season losses seem to have propelled Cemore Donald to accelerate in the class 2 middle distances. Now the triple class 3 gold medallist has come through stern tests in the 800 and 1500 metres to emerge as the class 2 favourite in both events.
The leggy Donald has clocked 2 minutes 08.53 seconds over the 800 metres and her meeting race at that distance with Charokee Young of Hydel may be one of the races of the meet. Young beat Holmwood class 1 star Chrisanni May at the recent G.C. Foster Classic, but lost to Donald in class 2 at Central Champs. She may have more to give.
Dyke's Class three 800/1,500 crew isn't any worse since Donald moved up. Rushana Dwyer has run wonderful times and will keep the Edwin Allen flag flying high.
In class 4, Dyke has assembled an awesome team of sprinters. Just two years after Davis and company twice made history by breaking 47 seconds in the class 4 4x100, another Edwin Allen quartet sped to a winning time of 46.30 seconds at Central Champs. That fast four include Serena Cole, the Central 100 metre champion and nippy Tina Clayton.
Holmwood is back on the rise. The 10-time champion school is limited in class 4 but is great everywhere else. May, class 2 long jumper Suzan Francis and class 1 hurdler Nicolee Foster are prominent names but when Champs ends, Mishae Harriott could be the Holmwood heroine.
She is encroaching on Kimone Shaw's class 2 100 metre record of 11.48 seconds with a recent run of 11.50 seconds. Though she lost to St Catherine High School standout Julien Alfred of St Lucia at Central Champs, she is coming to Champs in cracking form.
Hydel has come a long way in a short time. New to Champs in 2010, this team isn't far from being a genuine Championship contender. With Corey Bennett at the helm, Hydel has added to its traditional sprints-jumps-relays base a powerful 800-1500-2000 steeplechase-3000 unit. World Under-20 discus finalist Devia Brown lead the Hydel field events team into action.
Hydel's multi-talented Shian Salmon is hamstrung by new rules restricting the number of events one athlete can do. She is fast in the 400 and 400 metre hurdles and is a record breaking high jumper. The same goes for Hydel's second year Glengoffe High transfer, Trishuana Hemmings who can sprint, long jump and hurdles. Both are in class 1.
In that class, Roniesha McGregor may show how good Hydel has become in the 400 metres. Last year, she was the only person to beat Junelle Bromfield, then at STETHS, over the distance when she beat her head to head at the Kirkvine Development meet. This time, STETHS has McGregor's World Under-20 teammate Stacy-Ann Williams who is fresh from a personal best of 52.62 seconds at the G.C. Foster Classic.
Shaw has arguably been St Jago's best Girls Championships performance of the last few years. She has won every class and holds the 100 metre records in class 2 and 4. This season, she and reigning class 2 200 champion Shaniel English are off the pace and face fast opponents including Harriot, Alfred and gifted Vere Technical hurdler Brittany Anderson in the 200.
This year, the top Lady Monk should be Shaw's teammate Tissana Hickling. Second in the class 1 long jump and the Open triple jump last year to the now graduated Samara Spencer of Hydel, Hickling has the season's best mark in both events - 6.39 and 13.29 metres, and it isn't really close.
Joanne Reid is being peaked perfectly by head coach Kelando Goburn. The lanky Reid will launch her bid to defend her Css Three 400-metres title from the top of the 2017 performance charts at 54.49 seconds.
Aside from the five day battle for team honours, there are events which will be worth the price of entry by themselves. Prime among them is the class 2 100 metre hurdles where Anderson rules. After a loss at the early season McKenley-Wint Classic to Ray-Donna Lee of Hydel, the Vere girl has routinely gone faster than the Champs record of 13.38 seconds with times of 13.18 and 13.21 seconds. The defending champion Daszay Freeman has emerged as her main challenger with a personal best of 13.44 seconds behind Anderson at the Carifta Trials. Holmwood's Shanette Allison, a former Class Three and Four winner, is also right up there.
If there's one event not to be missed, that's it.
TASTY 100 METRES HURDLES
The Class One 100 metres hurdles should be tasty too with Anderson's teammate Amoi Brown upsetting favoured Gabrielle McDonald, now at Edwin Allen at the Trials. McDonald bounced back to win at Central Champs but also has to be weary of Janeek Brown, the Wolmerian who has won gold in lower classes at Champs.
Though injuries seem to have slowed 2016 class 1 100 winner Patrice Moody, Edwin Allen seems to have more than enough depth to ride past that difficulty. As a sign of squad depth, shortly after Moody's troubles became apparent, her class 1 teammate Kashieka Cameron set a personal best of 11.49 to win the Trials 0.05 ahead of St Jago's Aneka Brissett.
It was a sign of how hard it will be to beat Edwin Allen at Champs. Apparently, you can't keep a good team down.