Coach Bennett revels in Hydel’s historic triumph
Corey Bennett has been so focused on getting the best out of his athletes over the years that it wasn’t until he was asked what it meant to lead Hydel High School to its first Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships girls’ title that he realised he had never really thought about it.
So, after a long pause and a deep sigh, Bennett could only express gratitude that the athletes and, by extension, the school could once again demonstrate resilience, as he believes the historic feat tops off a year of misfortunes.
The Ferry-based girls, who were always expected to be in a ding-dong battle with Edwin Allen High, tallied 279 points to deny their rivals a ninth-straight title and 10th overall by a mere two points.
“I am happy for Hyacinth Bennett, she is not doing too well and so she was unable to be with us physically, but I know this means a lot to her. She has always wanted this, so I am happy for her and I am happy for the school,” Bennett told the Jamaica Observer.
“The school has suffered a lot, we have had fires in recent times, among other things, so we have gone through a lot, but we are thankful for God’s blessings and grace on the team. We’ve had some injuries, but the girls dug deep and we are thankful for this victory.
“I’m thankful for my assistant coaches and others who have been a tower of strength, even Dr [Walton] Small, the first principal to win a girls’ Champs title and a boys’ Champs title [with Wolmer’s Boys’], so congrats to him and what a way to kick off his first year with us,” he added.
Though Hydel have been knocking on the door over the years and a first Central Championship win by half a point was an indication of their chances heading into the five-day high school championships, Bennett insisted that winning the title was never their first real target. But he is happy things turned out the way they did.
Only seven-and-a-half points separated Hydel from their Clarendon rivals heading into Saturday’s final day at the National Stadium. A series of consistent performances, coupled with Edwin Allen’s disqualification from the 1,600m sprint medley relay, aided Hydel’s effort at the business end of things.
“We had quite a few mishaps and I’m sure Edwin had a few mishaps themselves, but God is good. Even though we weren’t planning to win a championship, we just wanted to get some good performances in, and that equated into us winning, so we are thankful for that,” said Bennett.
“It was always a case of telling the girls to take it one event at a time, but we had some girls who really dug deep and we got some good surprises along the way, and again we are very thankful for that,” the coach noted.
Hydel’s performances were led by Alana Reid, who secured the Class One sprint double, included clocking national junior record 10.92s in the 100m; Captain Oneika McAnnuff, who successful retained her 400m hurdles title; and Kaydeen Johnson, who topped both the 2,000m Steeplechase and the 3,000m event, which placed the championship beyond doubt.
While he will miss McAnnuff and Reid, who are set to transiton to overseas universities, Bennett, in all his modesty, said his efforts will always be about elevating his team and putting the athletes in a position to experience success.
“I wish I could have her [McAnnuff] for one more year, Alana actually has another year, but she might be transitioning, but we are happy for them. I don’t need to win another one [champonship] because, as I said, it wasn’t necessarily my aim. I just wanted to get in some good performances and we did get some really good performances, and I’m happy for people who have stuck with us from first form that they can come and bask in the glory of this one,” Bennett, who also coached Calabar to a third-place finish on the boys’ side stated.
“As we go forward we just want to remain grounded. We don’t pursue title, we pursue performances and we continue to do that. We are thankful that a title could have come with it, but we continue to focus on the athletes and just get them to be the best version of themselves and continue to give God thanks,” he ended.