Sport

Jamaica College and the x-factor effect at Champs

Monday, March 25, 2019

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All the talk ahead of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Grace Kennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships has been centred around defending champions Calabar High and perennial rivals Kingston College (KC), on the boys' side.

Very little has been said, however, about last year's third-place finishers, Jamaica College (JC).

The boys who run in royal blue and white have been steadily improving over the last few years in the quality of their performances and have, quite simply, looked good this season.

While no one is expecting JC to actually win Champs, fans should beware of the fact that they will be making a lot of noise.

At the recently held Digicel Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet (CADM) their boys won every 200m final, including Class four. Ryiem Robertson was first in the Class One final in 21.41, Deondre McIntosh was first in Class Two in 21.93, Christopher Scott was first in Class Three in 22.74, while Mark-Anthony Miller won in a new record of 23.33s in Class Four.

While Class Four does not compete for boys at Champs, it shows the strength and depth of the sprinting programme at the Old Hope Road-based institution.

But not only are they good in the sprints, they are also good at the middle distances as well. They will be competitive in the 800m and 1500m in Class Three and in Class One, while in Class Two they have a very special talent, J'Voughnn Blake.

The slight of frame, but very eloquent Blake is a middle distance machine. His running style and race strategy are superb, and he is certainly one for the future for Jamaica. It is clear that the boy loves to run and he now owns both the 800m and 1500m CADM records.

In the 800m final, Blake broke Kimar Farquharson's record of 1:52.92 to set a new mark of 1:52.15, which was more than a second faster than second-place Giovounni Henry of Kingston College (1:53.62). His time would have placed him fourth in the Class One Boys' final at the meet.

In the 1500m final he was even more devastating, destroying the record of 3:59.59 set by Aryamanya Rodgers of Kingston Collegeb by shaving off more than three seconds when he stopped the clock at 3:56.43. Again he left the field for dead, with the other Kingston College twin, Gianni Henry, a distant second — more than seven seconds behind in 4:03.50.

Shawn Smith looked very good in the 2,000m Steeplechase at the G C Foster Classics, running away from the field to win in 5:59.63, which puts him behind only Rivoldo Marshall of Calabar High who was hand -timed at 5:52.50 earlier this season.

Michali Everett defeated Calabar's Michael Stephens in the Class One boys' 100m final at the CADM, which set off a firestorm that is likely to continue into Champs. After the results of the Digicel Grand Prix 100m final, it is clear that neither of those two athletes will have things their own way, but expect them to be at it later this week.

JC will be impactful in the field as well and in other areas on the track, including the tricky hurdles events.

So while the Mortimer Geddes trophy may not be heading back to Old Hope Road at the end of Championships, the “True Blue” family will certainly be encouraged about the direction of their track and field programme as a direct complement to their powerful football programme.

Calabar High and Kingston College, be warned! Surprises do happen at track and field championships.

— Dwayne Richards


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