Excelsior Eagles continue to soar at Corporate Area champs

Observer writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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Though not officially declared a championship, the Digicel/Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet has become just that for the schools in the Corporate Area which are chasing glory at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

One of the schools that has always embraced the meet, even before it became a part of what is now the Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Series, is Excelsior High, and they showed just how much on the weekend.

The school, which is located just a stone's throw away from National Stadium where the meet is held, retained the girls' title they won last year by 96 points as they dominated their challengers from start to finish. They tallied 332.50 points, with Immaculate Conception a distant second with 238.50, The Queen's School third with 204, Wolmer's Girls' fourth on 171, while Alpha rounded out the top five with 147.50.

The Excelsior girls stole the spotlight over the two days as their “Stars” delivered to ensure glory at the end of the meet.

Shantae Foreman, who moved up from Class Three to Class Two, did not miss a beat as she won the high jump and long jump with record-breaking performances of 1.75m and 6.29m, respectively, on Friday before she returned to anchor the Class Two 4x100m team gold in another record-breaking performance in 46.56secs.

She then topped off a fantastic personal championship, winning her fourth gold medal and claimed her fourth record in the 4x400m Open final, which they won in 3:49.01 minutes.

The irrepressible Ackera Nugent, who stayed below the radar in qualifying for the 400m hurdles open final, was in a no-nonsense mood on Saturday. She won gold in a new record time of 59.80secs before returning to win gold, also in record fashion, in 13.32secs in the 100m Class Two hurdles final.

Dorian Nelson, who has grown in stature and confidence, won the Class Two 400m final in a respectable 56.68secs, and also featured in the record-breaking mile relay team.

Gabriella Gordon is a little dynamo who showed her class and mental toughness to win gold in the 1500m on Friday and gold in the 800m on Saturday. She displayed great race strategy to win both events and was seen on the sidelines urging on her teammates after she had delivered her 18 points to the cause.

In the field events, Kaciann Cowan took gold in the Class One long jump with 5.43m, Shanika Roberts took gold in the triple jump with 11.99m, Ashanti Wright took gold in the Class Two discus with 40.85m, Kaliah Jones won the Class One high jump with a record 1.70m, and Adrienne Adams won the Class One discus with 46.74m to make it a total of seven gold medals won in the field when the two by Freeman are added.

Cowan also won silver in the Class One 100m hurdles final.

In addition to winning the Class Two 4x100m and the 4x400m Open, Excelsior also won the Class One 4x100m and the sprint medley open for a total of four relay victories, to underline just how strong they are in the Corporate Area.

Michael Russell, who is the head coach for the girls at Excelsior High, was pleased with the overall showing over the two days.

“I thought the performances were good. We still have a long way to go in terms of tightening up on areas we believe can bring us some points at Champs.

“A lot of what you saw was us testing areas to see how the girls would hold up, and to help us make some informed decisions going forward.

“We did well in the relays which is a far cry better than last year, so that was refreshing to see.”

Russell also hoped that the performance of his girls would help to win over new fans, as they continue on their journey to the top five at Champs.

“Importantly the spectators looking on can see that there is a good programme at Excelsior, and that it is also what we want,” he said. “We want to remain visible and to win the hearts of people so that we can ask for resources later on.

“It was a good, all-round team performance, it's a good look. And I hope we can continue in this vein in two weeks' time,” he surmised.

Based on the evidence of what was seen over the two days at the weekend, it is safe to say that the “Top Five Drive” at Champs is well and truly alive for the “Lady Eagles” of Excelsior High.

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