CALABAR High School roared loudly on the final day to successfully defend the Mortimor Geddes trophy — symbol of schoolboys' track and field supremacy — when they strolled to an easy victory on yesterday's final day of the 103rd ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium.
After entering the day in third place, on 110 points, behind Jamaica College (JC) on 115 and Kingston College (KC) on 113, Calabar wasted no time in asserting their dominance on the track, as they gradually pulled away from the pack, piling up points in almost every event on the final day of the five-day championships.
Calabar made a mockery of predictions that Champs would be a close affair with less than 10 points separating the top two schools.
Coming into yesterday's 24 finals to be contested, Calabar were represented in all but one -- the 5,000m -- and in all the relays, one more than KC, and they had two runners in 12 of the 20 individual finals.
After a quiet first three days, the excitement that started building on Friday's fourth day reached boiling point yesterday with the infamous KC cheering section leading the way with drums, horns and cheering from the first event in what is arguably the greatest Champs ever.
At the end, Calabar High amassed 299, followed by JC on 258.5, KC on 247.5, Wolmer's Boys, 121, St Jago, 107, Munro College, 98, STETHS, 49, Holmwood, 48, Petersfield, 34, and Manchester High on 29 to round out the top 10.
A full two hours before the end of the championships, just after 6:00 pm, and with over 40 points clear, Calabar's coaching staff was still working hard, leaving nothing to chance.
Omar Hawes, an assistant coach and the team spokesman, told the Jamaica Observer, "we are going to be resolute and try to defend our title as best as possible and continue to manage until the 4x400m relays".
He added that they were not worried when JC led early, and even when they would slip to third at some stages on Friday's penultimate day. "We had no worries then, our confidence was still high."
After five records were set on Friday, including two national junior records in the Class One 110m hurdles semi-finals and the final of the 400m hurdles by KC's Omar McLeod, four of the first five events yesterday produced new marks, as over 12 new marks were set yesterday on a day of outstanding competition.
Twenty-seven new records were established, while 30 were broken, 19 by boys and 11 by girls.
Munro College's Delano Williams joined the ranks of the Champs greats when he completed back-to-back Class One sprint doubles, winning his third straight 200m in a new personal best and world leading 20.27 seconds, only second to Usain Bolt's 20.25 seconds set in 2003 for William Knibb Memorial.
Williams, who won the 100m the previous night in 10.28 seconds, both new Turks and Caicos national senior records, joined former KC sprinter Lennox 'Billy' Miller as three-time winners of the 200m at Class One, and was the first since Miller did it 48 years ago in 1965.
It was also the first time any Class One boy was repeating as Class One sprint double champion since Camperdown's Garfield Campbell in 1986.
Green Island's Odail Todd was second in a new personal best 20.78 seconds and Calabar's Javon Francis was third in 20.82 seconds.
Calabar's 100m champion Michael O'Hara was denied a record in the Class Two 200m by wind over the allowable limit (2.0mps) when he won in 20.65 seconds, his third individual gold of the meet, beating JC's Devaugn Baker (21.05 secs) and St Jago's Raheem Chambers third in 21.26 seconds.
KC's Jhevaughn Matherson also won the sprint double in Class Three, capturing the 200m in a record 21.87 seconds, beating the 22.02 seconds he set in the semi-finals, as Nathaniel Bann, the 400m champion and teammate, was second in 22.30 seconds, with Calabar's Anthony Carpenter third in 22.69 seconds.
All three records in the sprint hurdles were rewritten, led by a scintillating 13.24 seconds run by KC's Omar McLeod, as he further lowered his own national junior record to 13.24 seconds after running 13.42 seconds just over 24 hours earlier in the semis.
O'Hara retained his Class Two title with a sparkling 13.45 seconds, lowering the 13.69 seconds held by Dwayne Robinson since 1999.
St Jago's Kamali Simpson ran 13.10 seconds to win the Class Three 100m hurdles gold, just under the 2001 record of 13.11 seconds, held by Mathew Palmer of Wolmer's, with St Elizabeth Technical's Renaldo Banton second in 13.34 seconds, and Calabar's Alex Robinson, third in 13.35 seconds.
Two records fell in the 400m finals, in classes two and three; the top three finishers in the Class Two race were all under the old record of 47.24 seconds held by former Calabar athlete Ramone McKenzie, as JC's Baker took charge of the race at the 250m mark and ran away to win in 46.21 seconds.
In Class Three, KC's Bann outclassed one of the best fields at Champs in years to win in 49.13 seconds, half a second under the 22-year-old mark of 49.63 seconds set in 1991 by Ali Watson of Calabar.
Wolmer's Boys' Christoff Bryan broke the 18-year-old Class One high jump record of 2.15m that was set by Enrico Gordon with a new mark of 2.19m, just shy of his personal best 2.20m set last year at the Milo Western Relays in Montego Bay.
Bryan, who is in his first year in Class One, had first cleared 2.16m on his second attempt before clearing the new mark on his first try, after which he retired.