Off and running!
PHILADELPHIA, United States — The 127th Penn Relays Carnival is to get underway this morning at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, but with a new look as the high school boys compete on day one.
Teams from 38 Jamaican high schools and four colleges will compete over the next three days against American, Canadian, South African and Caribbean counterparts, with the victors of the Championship of America relays winning a ‘wheel’, the circular trophy, as well as watches that will also be presented to winners of individual events.
For the first time since 1979 when high school girls started competing, they will not parade their skills on Thursday’s opening day after the organisers introduced a system where they will alternate genders competing on the first day.
This year the boys will compete in the preliminaries of three relays — 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m — as well as the field events on Thursday; and the relay finals on Friday’s second day.
On Friday the girls will run the preliminaries of the 4x100m and 4x800m, and on Saturday they will contest the preliminaries and finals of the 4x400m as well as the finals of the 4x100m and 4x800m.
Next year, according to the plans, the schedule will flip but it will be interesting to see if the new format will have any impact on the turnout, especially on Saturday’s final day.
On the track, Camperdown High, Kingston College and Jamaica College will start the defence of their Championship of America (COA) titles in the 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m, respectively.
Twenty Jamaican high schools are scheduled for the 4x100m during which they will have two shots at a final. The fastest nine teams, regardless of where they are from, will contest the COA final, and the next nine fastest overseas schools will contest the international final.
National junior men’s 100m record holder Bouwahjgie Nkrumie has travelled with the Kingston College team but there is no confirmation whether he will compete, after he suffered a hamstring injury at the Carifta Games in The Bahamas over the Easter weekend.
If he is able to run that would tilt the 4x100m scales in their favour but either way, Kingston College are expected to be competitive along with Calabar High, Jamaica College, St Jago High, St Elizabeth Technical and Herbert Morrison Technical.
The other Jamaican teams down to compete are Rhodes Hall, Wolmer’s Boys’, Edwin Allen, Excelsior, Ferncourt, Tacius Golding, William Knibb, Papine High, Penwood High, Petersfield High, St Andrew Technical High (STATHS), St Catherine High and St George’s College.
Jamaica College could start as favourites in the two longer relays and will lead 21 Jamaican schools in the 4x400m during which they are expected to be challenged by the likes of Edwin Allen, Kingston College, STETHS and St Jago High.
The other Jamaican schools in the event are Herbert Morrison, William Knibb, St Catherine High, Penwood High, Calabar, Camperdown, Tacius Golding, Papine, Maggotty High, Rhodes Hall, Excelsior, STATHS, Dinthill Technical, Manchester High, Ferncourt and Petersfield High.
While they are not as potent as last year, Jamaica College are the pacesetters in the 4x800m which will also see STETHS, Calabar High, Kingston College and St Jago High also seeking a place in Friday’s final.
Jamaica College athletes are top-ranked in all three high school boys’ jump events today, Carifta Games co-champion Chavez Penn is number one-ranked in the high jump, with Kingston College’s ISSA Champs Class 1 winner Aaron McKenzie, who was third last year, ranked second while Jamaica College’s Isaiah Patrick is number three.
Uroy Ryan, the ISSA championships winner who was second at the Penn Relays in the long jump last year, is hoping to move a place up and win the watch.
Kingston College’s Nathan Wade and St Jago’s Demario Prince are ranked third and fourth, respectively.
Trevon Hamer, who was third at Champs and eighth at the Carifta Games, is the top-ranked athlete in the high school boys’ triple jump, while his teammate Euan Young is second, followed by Cornwall College’s Kesean Rhoomes who won the bronze medal in the Champs Class 1 final.