PHILADELPHIA, USA — Edwin Allen High are on course for the treble in the high school girls' Championships of Americas relay titles on today's second full day of competition at the 119th Penn Relays Carnival at Franklin Field, Philadelphia.
On a gloriously sunny day yesterday that saw paid attendance of 23,310 spectators in attendance, the Michael Dyke-coached girls were in all their glory with a series of commanding performances and looked poised for the first clean sweep after twice winning two events in one year.
They led all qualifiers in the 4x100m and 4x800m with times of 45.41 seconds and 9:05.41, respectively, and had the third best time in the 4x400m of 3:45.71 behind Holmwood Technical's 3:42.35 and Vere Technical's 3:42.81.
Edwin Allen were not alone, however, as Holmwood are in two finals after being disqualified from the 4x800m as Jamaican schools are well represented in the two shorter relays with five of eight teams in each.
As pleased as he was yesterday, Dyke told the Jamaica Observer there would be changes made for today's finals. "Yes, I am pleased with most of what we did today and the triple is still on," he said.
While he said the main objective yesterday was to qualify for today's finals, he said the times run by the squads were "good for the teams we sent out," implying he expected faster times today.
Not everything went the way he hoped, however, saying they did not do as well as they had hoped in the individual events where only Holmwood Technical's Gleneve Grange was able to land a gold-plated Penn Relays watch, winning the discus throw in a new meet and National Junior Record 54.29m, beating favourite Tara-Sue Barnett of Edwin Allen.
At least one man is hoping Edwin Allen won't sweep all the titles and that's Holmwood's assistant coach Dwight Jones who said his two teams will be going out to win their first relay title here since 2010.
Jones told the Observer that his team is also considering strengthening their ranks as well and added he thinks their best chance to win will come in the 4x100m.
Edwin Allen started the ball rolling in the heats of the 4x800m with an almost effortless win with the team of Atara Segree (2:15.9), Marleena Eubanks (2:09.5), Derica Pitters (2:21.2) and Asshanni Robb (2:18.8).
Dyke noted that Sanikee Gardner would come in to replace Pitters this time in the final set for 1:00 pm today (midday Jamaican time).
Holmwood had won their heat in 9:21.91, a time that would easily get them into the final, but newcomer Sherine Whyte misjudged the barriers in the nine-lane track and ran a few yards before recognising her mistake and stepped back but it was too late.
All the runners in the 4x800m are restricted to lanes five to nine, hence the disqualification.
It is unsure what changes Edwin Allen will make to the 4x100m team, but Holmwood will bring in Diana Johnson to bolster their team that ran 45.52 seconds yesterday.
Vere Technical, winners of 15 Penn Relay plaques, are also in the 4x100m final along with St Andrew High and St Jago.
Manchester High, St Hugh's and St Elizabeth Technical will contest the 'Small Schools' consolation finals in the 4x100m as well.
Edwin Allen will have the luxury of adding to the 4x400m team as Dyke said he could bring in two of the trio of Eubanks, Monique Spencer or Saqukine Cameron after the team of Gardner, Davia Smith, Terrian Williams and Kamira Haughton ran yesterday.
Holmwood look well poised after Chris-Ann Gordon ran the fastest split of 53.2 seconds, virtually all by herself as Holmwood had by then established a big lead over the field.
Vere Technical, winners at Gibson Relays and Girls Champs, both in new meet records, St Elizabeth Technical and St Jago are also in the Mile Relay finals, set to run just after 4:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time or just after 5:00 pm Jamaican time.