Vere Tech yearns to be on top again
VERE Technical's 15-year Champs winning streak is unmatched in Jamaica in any sport, but their 11-year losing streak has been painful for the school from Hayes, Clarendon.
With 22 titles, Vere Technical is the most successful school in the annals of the ISSA Girls Athletics Championship and boasts an enviable record of producing the most Olympians in the rich history of Jamaica's track and field.
The likes of Merlene Ottey, Ethlyn Tate, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Beverly McDonald, Merlene Frazer, the Turner sisters of Inez, Evette and Janice, Lacena Golding, Deon Hemmings-McCatty, Claudine Williams and Madrea Hyman are just some of the many athletes who set Vere Technical apart from the rest.
Now, head coach John Mair has the arduous task of getting Vere back to those glory days. That task is even more difficult when one considers the strength of defending champion Holmwood Technical and hot favourites Edwin Allen High.
But Mair, a former Jamaican sprinter, is not undaunted by the task at hand but is more concerned about the development of these young athletes.
"There are a lot of national representatives, World champions and Olympians who have passed through Vere Technical, about 50 odd athletes who went to the Olympics and World Championships," Mair noted.
"But one of my problems is that I just want to appeal to some of our guardians and parents that they pay more attention to their young ones," said Mair.
"The experience that I have had even before I came here to Vere Technical, recruiting 10- and 11-year- olds, when you ask them to give you a little information on their names, mother's name and phone number, it is like pulling a tooth... they can't do it," he added.
The last success Vere had was the last time Champs was held outside of the National Stadium in 2002 at GC Foster College. That was because Jamaica was preparing to host the IAAF World Junior Championship in Kingston that unveiled one Usain Bolt.
Last year, Vere finished fourth with 202 points, six behind third-placed St Jago High and a massive 108 behind winners Holmwood Technical with 301.5 points.
Carol Cummings, who masterminded Vere Technical's first triumph in 1967 with three victories in Class One, will be honoured by ISSA at this year's championship.
Carol, now Cummings-Kellum, will be one of five persons honoured and would love to witness her alma mater adding to their 22 titles, but that task will be a most difficult one at this time.
But in young Adrennette Knight and Sasha-Gaye White, Vere has two talented youngsters who will make her proud.
Knight, a national representative, will be participating in the Class Two 100m hurdle and 400m hurdle Open, plus the flat 400m and a lot is expected of her. Knight who represented Jamaica at the World Youth Championships last year will be a serious threat and could dominate in Class Two.
"I have run the 400-metre hurdles twice (and) I am pretty confident this year I will be lowering my time... my objective is to run a 58-57 seconds, there about. 59.62 is my personal best. My competitor this year for the 400- metre hurdles is Camira Haughton from Edwin Allen and she was 400-metre hurdles champion from last Champs," said Knight.
Only last week, Knight won the Carifta Trials in 58.59 seconds
Meanwhile, SashaGaye Whyte will be doing the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000 metres and is tipped to win all three events at Champs.
"From the starting of the season, I won all my events in the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres. At the Boys and Girls Championships I would like to lower my time in the 1,500 metres. I achieved a personal record in the 1,500 metres (and) the time is four minutes 41 seconds and I want to lower that time," said Whyte.
But Vere Technical will have to wait a few more years before they become the dominant force in track and field once again and that's not beyond the school that knows how to win Champs.