There is an air confidence blowing over Kingston College (KC) as they seek to defend their boys' crown at the highly anticipated Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Athletics Championships.
The five-day championships is slated to start today at the National Stadium.
Over the course of the championships, KC will go head-to-head with old foes Jamaica College and Calabar High, with expectation of outstanding performances both on the track and in the field.
The North Street-based institution tallied 372 points to easily win last year's championships ahead of dethroned champions Jamaica College, who amassed 300.83 points.
The 'Purples' are confident of their chances to retain the title, after they defeated both major rivals to retain their Anthrick Corporate crown earlier this month.
KC Head Coach Leaford Grant says his team has enough ammunition to secure their 34th hold on the Mortimer Geddes trophy.
"We are pretty much confident that we will be able to retain our title," said Grant.
"The boys are confident, the school fraternity is confident, coaches are confident and once we remain injury-free, then I think we will do well.
"The preparations have been good, our coaches are doing an excellent job as usual, and so we don't have any problems in terms of our preparations going into Champs.
"Everybody will have to come out and do their best for us because this is the national championships and so we have to ensure that we put our best foot forward out there," he added.
Grant noted that along with the sprints and middle-distance races, he expects his team to put on a good show in the field events.
"We think that our field athletes are pretty strong as usual, but we have one or two weak areas in our throws. But overall, we feel that we will be competitive in the field events this year," he said.
JC, who broke a 10-year drought when they won the title for a 22nd time in 2021, failed to follow up last year after surrendering their crown to KC.
However, the 'Dark Blues' are positive they can dethrone KC after a number of superb performances from their athletes at development meets earlier this season.
"The title is always on a coach's mind, especially when you are in the big three with KC and Calabar, but it's not an easy championship by any stretch of the imagination," said JC Head Coach Neil Harrison.
Calabar are coming off an excellent showing at the Corporate Area Championships, at which they finished second with 415 points behind the winner KC, who amassed 427 points at the event.
Head Coach Corey Bennett, though optimistic, said his team is going through a rebuilding phase.
"There is the opportunity to win, but we are not focused on winning because you don't want anything less than winning to be disappointing to these athletes because it's a young team," he said.
"So you kind of really want to make sure that we temper expectations. But we are going there to compete and compete to the best of our abilities," he added.
No final will be contested on today's opening day with action set to get under way at 9:00 am with the preliminary round of the 2,000 metres steeplechase open for boys and girls.
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