Holmwood starlet shines brightest in girls' 400m thriller
Rickiann Russell (right) of Holmwood Technical wins ahead of Onieka McAnuff of Hydel High in the girls' 400m during the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association /GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Thursday.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Holmwood Technical's Rickiann Russell dared to dream that the girls' Class one 400 metre record would come in this her final year at the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championship. But it wasn't to be.

Still, the 19-year-old, who this season rediscovered her drive and desire to be the best, proved just that when she turned in an impressive performance on Thursday's third day of action at the National Stadium.

Russell, who was sixth last year, produced a well-timed run to collar defending champion Oneika McAnnuff off the curve and sprinted away to stop the clock in a big personal best 51.26 seconds. She was just outside the long-standing record of 51.13 held by Sonita Sutherland since 2006.

McAnnuff, who is also in her final year, had to settle for silver, also in a new personal best of 52.11, with Edwin Allen's Kacian Powell (52.76) in third.

Rickiann Russell of Holmwood Technical contests the class one girls' 400m final during the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association /GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Thursday. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

More intriguingly, only one point separates main contenders Hydel High (98) and reigning champions Edwin Allen High (97) heading into today's fourth and penultimate day. Russell's performance placed Holmwood in striking distance in third on 73.50 points.

Jody-Ann Daley delivered the Class two 400m gold for Hydel with a well-paced run which propelled her to a final time of 53.61, as she denied defending champion Sabrina Dockery (54.12) of Lacovia back-to-back championships. Kitania Headley (54.13) of St Catherine was third.

The Class three girls' event was won in fine style by another Hydel stalwart, Nastassia Fletcher, in a new personal best time of 53.99.

Excelsior's Breana Brown, who was fourth last year, made a big step up to second on this occasion, stopping the clock in 55.88, with Rhianna Lewis (56.15) of Rhodes Hall in third.

Following her record-breaking exploits in the 100m on day two, Hydel's Alana Reid returned for a stroll in her Class one 200m heat in 24.51, with Holmwood's Rickiann Russell (24.06) and other rivals Kacian Powell (23.92) of Edwin Allen and Mickayla Gardener (23.96) of Wolmer's Girls, joining them in the semi-finals.

While Holy Childhood's Abigail Wolfe remains on course to secure the double, it was Lacovia's Sabrina Dockery who was the fastest qualifier through to the girls' Class two 200m at 23.35. Wolfe's time, an easy 25.07, was the eighth fastest.

Edwin Allen's Theianna-Lee Terrelonge remains on course for the girls' Class three double, after she led qualifiers into the 200m semis with an easy 24.76 clocking.

In the girls' Class four 200m medal favourites Tresha-Lee Sutherland (25.69) of Clarendon College, Holmwood Technical's Maya Oakley (25.79) and Teixiera Johnson (25.98) of Hydel, all safely progressed with minimum fuss.

Alikay Reynolds, the girls' Class three 1,500m winner, joined her Alphansus Davis teammate Tabbrel Williams in the 800m final, after both clocked 2:27.40 minutes and 2:21.42, respectively. However, it was Sydney Pagon's Denae Hodges (2:21.41), who was the fastest in qualifying.

The girls' Class one and Class two events will be run as straight finals.

Meanwhile, all the favourites safely and comfortably made their way into the girls' Class one and Class two 4x100m relay finals.

Class three 4x100m relay favourites Wolmer's Girls also got the baton around safely to book their spot in the final where they will be joined by Edwin Allen, Excelsior and others, while Hydel misses out after being disqualified.

The three Central Champs powerhouses Hydel, Holmwood and Edwin Allen all progressed safely through to the Class four girls' 4x100m relays.

Jody-Ann Daley (left) of Hydel High and Rosalee Mulling of Holmwood Technical compete in the girls' class two 400m race during the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association /GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Thursday.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Earlier, gold medal favourite Aaliyah Foster of Mount Alvernia placed Chanice Porter's 11-year-old Class one long jump record of 6.52m on notice, as she led qualifiers to the final with a mark of 6.26m. Her main rivals Celine Riddle (5.88m) of Holmwood Technical and Jade-Ann Smith (5.81m) of Excelsior also remain in contention for the coveted prize.

Edwin Allen pair of Shamoyea Morris and Dionjah Shaw headlined qualifiers for the girls' Class two discus final, after launching the instrument to distances of 42.98m and 41.76m, respectively.

There were no hiccups in the girls' Class four high jump as the Wolmer's Girls pair of Adajah Drysdale and Kariecia Morrison, as well as Edwin Allen's Abrianna Clarke, among other top prospects, easily cleared the qualifying mark of 1.50m.

Sherdon Cowan

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