Harrison hopes COVID will give JC a chance to shine
As a patriot, Jamaica College head coach Neil Harrison hopes the nation's campaign against COVID-19 will be successful. In addition, Harrison believes that if that battle is won, his imposing squad will provide memorable performances at Boys and Girls' Championships.
"I just want COVID to behave itself and give us an opportunity to display the kind of quality that we have," he said to STAR Sports late in March. "I'm just hoping that there is a Champs. The boys, they have worked hard, they want to display their talent, they have their own aims and objectives, and I think something nice is in the making with this group of boys."
Harrison's Class Two sprinter Mark Anthony Miller is on the verge of a breakthrough in the 400 metres. No first-year Class Two athlete has broken the 48 seconds at Champs since former Calabar High School captain Christopher Taylor did it in 2015, but Harrison has tabbed Miller to be next.
The youngster clocked 48.08 seconds to win at the Corporate Area Championships, and the coach said that his sprint-focused pupil was just beginning to embrace the 400 metres. "He is one such athlete with a very good range, you know, from 1 to 4," he explained. "But I think as he goes along, he tends to be enjoying the event just now."
Harrison thinks his young charge can make the breakthrough. "He already ran sub-48, just unfortunate to not receive the time. At the meet at JC, I think the clock malfunctioned. I had him at 47.5." The official result at the JAAA Qualifying Trial meet on February 27 was 48.31. "I think the right moment will speak for itself," Harrison said.
If Miller is successful, he won't be the first JC boy to do it. Thirty years ago at Boys Championships, Edward Clarke of Jamaica College became the first Class Two boy to breach the 48-second barrier. His record - 47.49 seconds - stood until 2007. Sekou Clarke blazed a winning time of 47.57 seconds in 2000, and in 2013, Devaughn Baker, also of JC, won the first Champs sub-47 race in 46.64 seconds.
Taylor zipped under 48 in his first year in Class 2 with times of 47.25 and 47.04 seconds in 2015.
The JC coach is also eyes a banner performance from his season-leading 4x400 team. "Xavier Brown, Tariq Dacres, Malique Smith-Band and Javier Brown won an exciting Corporate Area 4x400 final in 3 minutes 10.79 seconds with splits of 47.4, 48.5, 48.5 and 46.3. Quite honestly, I have more in store and the element of surprise will present itself," Harrison chuckled. The victory was achieved without Guyana's Revon Williams, who took third in the Class 1 400 with a time of 47.52 seconds.