Western Ja schools expect to surpass last year’s medal haul at Champs
EXPECTATIONS are high among the 53 western- based schools that are among the 218 teams participating in this week's 104th staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston.
The 53 teams from western Jamaica comprise one of the largest number of schools from the region in years -- 27 boys' and 26 girls' teams — seeking to bring glory to themselves and their schools.
The five-day spectacular that started on Tuesday afternoon and will reach its expected explosive climax on Saturday, will see the 218 high school teams — 112 boys' and 106 girls' — taking part in what is said to be the greatest high school track meet on the globe.
Expectations are that teams from western Jamaica could help decide the champions as they will be scoring more points this year than previous seasons, as along with the usual suspects', a number of new names will be added to the list.
Cornwall College's Odaine Lewis who had a big triple jump to win at the recent CARIFTA Trials, his team mate Alrick Ottey in the Class 2 long and triple jump, Rusea's High Class 3 high jumper Lamara Distin, Balaclava High's Dawnalee Loney and Petersfield's discus thrower Glenford Watson could spring surprises.
Additionally, Cornwall College's Orell Bulgin who will take part in the boys Decathlon Open, could be a medal contender.
Lewis and Loney made bold statements at the CARIFTA Trials and will be marked athletes in their events. Lewis won the Under 20 boys triple jump with a massive 15.86m, the longest ever by a schoolboy at the National Stadium, while Loney chased down and beat a strong Under 20 girls 400m field.
Distin broke the Western Champs Class 3 high jump record, clearing 1.71m and followed up with a 1.70m at the Gibson Relays a week later and could challenge the Champs record 1.77m.
Watson is one of several throwers who could take the gold medal in the Class 1 boys' discus event, if he comes mentally prepared on the day of the final.
He won at Western Champs with a meet record 57.50m, which ranks him in the top three throws this season.
Bulgin was 12th and last two years ago in the gruelling 10-event Decathlon but improved by almost 1500 points last year to place fifth, but will be a medal contender this year.
Additionally, the known quantities from western Jamaica including Cornwall College's double gold medal threat Warren Barrett Jnr in the Class 2 boys throws, Steths' Juauvany James in
the Class 2 middle-distance events; IAAF World Youth Championships gold medallist Marvin Williams and Okeen Williams -- both of STETHS -- in the 400m hurdles Open and Rusea's High's middle distance runner Stephanie Barrett are also expected to win their share of medals.
Just 16 western schools managed to score at least a point last year, seven among the girls and nine boys' with COCAA Western Champs winners Munro College boys and St Elizabeth Technical girls leading the way.
Last year, Munro College finished fifth with 98 points with STETHS sixth on 49 points, Petersfield ninth with 34 points, Green Island 12th with 23 points, Cornwall College tied for 14th with 19 points,
Godfrey Stewart/Herbert Morrison and William Knibb all tied for 35th with three points and Lacovia High in 43rd place on one point.
On the girls side STETHS finished eighth with 65 points, Rusea's High were 15th with 18 points, Petersfield 24th with eight, Mannings and Herbert Morrison were 26th with six points each, Green Island 33rd with four and Grange Hill 36th with two points.
Participating schools from western Jamaica:
Boys-Albert Town, BB Coke, Balaclava, Cornwall College, Frome, Godfrey Stewart, Grange Hill, Green Island, Green Pond, Herbert Morrison, Hopewell, Irwin, Lacovia, Lewisville, Little London, Mannings, Munro College, Muschett, Newell, Petersfield, Rhodes Hall, Rusea's High, Spot valley, STETHS, St James High, Troy High, William Knibb Memorial.
Girls-Albert Town, BB Coke, Balaclava, Belmont Academy, Cedric Titus, Frome Technical, Godfrey, Grange Hill, Green island, Green Pond, Hampton, Herbert Morrison, Hopewell, Irwin, Lacovia, Lewisville, Mannings, Mt Alvernia, Muschett, Newell, Petersfield, Rusea's, Spot Valley, STETHS, Westwood, William Knibb.