Athletics

From difficulties to excellence, Immaculate on right path at Champs

By Trevor ‘TC’ Campbell

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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Immaculate Conception's return to the upper echelon of high school athletics is a call to take note for all who might have forgotten the value of hard work and application.

Some might say they have held true to their motto — “From difficulties to excellence”.

Coaches at this upper St Andrew institution, past and present, are not at liberty to entice, recruit or otherwise acquire primary school student athletes, nor are they allowed to ravage other secondary school programmes by various means of inducement.

To their credit the Franciscan nuns — founders and operators of the Roman Catholic institution, the administration, and the student body have not bought into the vain win-at-all-cost subculture that has infiltrated both genders of secondary school extracurricular activities in recent times.

The course the school administration has taken is to provide every opportunity for members of the 1600 sytrong student body, who would have entered the learning institution via academic avenues, to hone talent they knew existed and/or developed since enrolment, by allowing those with an interest in athletics to participate in extracurricular activities — fulfilling one of the school's mandates to develop rounded students. But the pursuit of academic excellence remains paramount.

During his 21 years at the helm of Immaculate's track and field programme, coach Mark Prince piloted his team from an unknown track and field entity to prominence before his departure in 2009. Their third- and fourth-place finishes in 1999 and 2000, respectively, were their best results at Boys' and Girls' Championships during his era, in addition to being the best Kingston-based squad on many occasions.

The Constant Spring-based school's metamorphosis in the recently concluded championships, under the guidance of a youthful, talented and dedicated coach Franz Ford and his assistant, have served notice that momentum is building and the way is paved for more success — even under the restrictions of an old formula.

The girls' elevation under his guidance to the top 10 of the championships, by amassing 81 points to claim eighth place, rests squarely on the performances of his Class Four team membership.

Jounee Armstrong had victories in the 200 metres (25.16secs) and the long jump with a record leap of 5.64 metres, before joining her teammates to stop the clock at 48.04 seconds to win the sprint relay. Misha-jade Samuel was the winner and Lori Choy the fourth-place finisher in the high jump with leaps of 1.64 metres and 1.61 metres, respectively, proving that success can be home-grown.

This underclass represents a solid foundation on which to build. They are poised to cause unease and even distress for others, but more success for themselves in the future.

Immaculate's athletics programme will attract added interest from the local track and field fraternity going forward because of this year's success. A betting person could believe they are a safe bet.

The Franciscans, on the other hand, will be reliant on faith that next year's blessing will be as bountiful as the present.

Let us all say Amen to that.

Editor's note: Trevor Campbell is a Kingston College legend with a decorated history at Champs — where he won 14 events and was undefeated in the individual 200m, 400m, and 800m races, setting new records in the latter two events. His only defeat came in a 4400m relay. He represented Jamaica at the 1972 Olympics but opted out of his final year in Class One in 1973 to take up a scholarship at the University of Southern California, where his senior career was plagued by injury and ended early.


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