KC face dogfight from JC to retain Mortimer Geddes TrophyTuesday, May 11, 2021
By Dwayne Richards
Kingston College (KC) will face the sternest of tests from Jamaica College (JC) as they attempt to defend the Mortimer Geddes Trophy when the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships gets under way today.
KC secured the trophy two years ago on a canter, romping to victory as they ended the seven-year reign of their other main rivals Calabar High School. But after Champs 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19, they will now begin their protracted title defence against a JC team that is stacked for a major title push.
The boys from Old Hope Road will be brimming with confidence and filled with hope after very good and consistent performances at the various development meets leading up to Champs.
While KC have shipped over 20 boys from their title-winning team to colleges overseas on scholarship since they won in 2019, JC have spent the time strengthening and are ready to unseat the champions with a powerhouse squad that is especially strong in the middle distances.
Former champions Calabar are a shadow of themselves and are now in a period of rebuilding and are not expected to feature in a title push, but they do possess talented athletes who could help in determining where the trophy ends up on Saturday.
There is an old cliché in sport – there is no margin for error – and if ever there was such a case, Champs 2021 is it!
The rule changes implemented by ISSA for this special edition of the championships have made all field events and races 1,500m or longer, straight finals. This means that there is no chance for recovery from a bad day, athletes will have to report mentally and physically ready and must deliver the expected points for their schools.
There are usually very few points earned on day one of Champs, but not this year. This year there will be six finals on the first day including the steeplechase Open, first up at 9:15 am, the javelin Open at 10:30 am, the long jump Class One at 3:00 pm, 100m hurdles Class Three at 4:10 pm, 110m hurdles Class Two at 4:20 pm while the 110m hurdles Class One, will close the show at 4:30 pm.
KC will be looking to their experienced sprinters like Bouwahjgie Nkrumie and Tajae Francis to lead from the front as well as their strength in the field in their title defence.
Head Coach Leaford Grant says that the defending champions will be putting their best foot forward to retain the trophy.
“We are the defending champions so we are going out there to do our best and God's willing we'll retain our trophy, the Mortimer Geddes trophy, and bring it back to 2A North Street.”
He admitted that there are a few injury concerns which will be last-minute decisions before the championships gets under way.
“There are a few injury concerns but we will make the final call just before Champs begins.”
When asked about the mood of the boys, Grant was to the point. “The boys are ready!”
Grant also hinted where the strength of his team lies, while underscoring the importance of an all-round team effort in order to retain the trophy.
“We are strong in the field, but all areas are important. It's important to get off to a good start on day one, because it builds momentum going into day two. Points on the board definitely build confidence in the team.”
Grant identified Calabar and Jamaica College as the main threats to KC's chances of winning the Mortimer Geddes trophy for the 33rd time.
Jamaica College last won the Mortimer Geddes trophy in 2011 and after a decade in the wilderness are itching to take it back to 189 Old Hope Road.
Their extremely talented middle-distance squad will be led by the impressive J'Voughnn Blake, who is fancied to take the 800m/1,500m double in Class One. Mark-Anthony Miller is expected to be a force in Class Two, while their all-around strength in the field will make them worthy adversaries for the defending champions.
Calabar High will be relying on veterans such as Evaldo Whitehorne to carry the flag. Javel Fullerton and Mark Manley are expected to do well for the school from Red Hills Road, but their lack of depth will see them struggle to keep pace with the big two this year.
Another factor which may have an outcome of Champs 2021 is the possibility of athletes missing the event due to positive COVID-19 test results as all the athletes and support staff of all the participating schools have been tested ahead of the event.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login