Some J'can schools raring to go should Penn Relays get green light
Edwin Allen High's Championship of Americas High School Girls' 4x100m relay gold medallists (from left) Fredericka McKenzie, Kevona Davis, Tina Clayton and Tia Clayton pose with their winning prizes after setting the track alight with a record 43.62-seconds run at the 125th Penn Relays Carnival at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in 2019.

The Penn Relays Carnival are expected to return in April, and should the three-day track and field event get the green light, a number of Jamaican high schools and colleges are expected to participate.

This week organisers of the event held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia announced plans to stage the track event after a two-year break due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The organisers have also published a tentative schedule to cover April 28-30, the traditional time frame.

The event was cancelled in 2020, just after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, but there was a one-day event last year on the final Saturday in April but it was restricted to colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area.

A number of Jamaican high school and tertiary institution coaches told the Jamaica Observer that, if allowed and if things are in place to facilitate their safe travel to and from Philadelphia for participation in the event, they would look forward to taking part.

Since 1964, when a Kingston College team became the first Jamaican high school to take part in the event that was first held in 1895, dozens of Jamaican high schools, colleges, club and national teams have competed at the event.

Dave Anderson, head coach of the Holmwood Technical girls' programme, said his team was ready to participate at 'Penns'.

“Yes [we are ready] because Holmwood has been one of the most successful Jamaican high schools at the Penn Relays. Once it is being held in a safe environment I would be willing to take a team. The athletes look forward to compete at the Penn Relays each year,” he noted.

Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen, added, “Yes, once ISSA, JAAA and Government give approval we would be there.”

Maurice Wilson, who led Holmwood Technical to multiple relay wins and is now the principal and head coach at GC Foster Sports College, responded with an emphatic “Yes, sir.”

St Jago High girls' head coach Keilando Goburn however was cautious in his response.

“To be honest, I'm not sure. It would have to be discussed with the principal and the management team,” he said.

Omar Hawes, assistant coach at Calabar High, echoed similar sentiments.

“We will have a more in-depth look at the schedule for information and update and let you know of our intentions,” he stated.

General manager for the sports teams at Jamaica College Ian Forbes said they would make the trip, but added that it would be “subject to the principal's approval”.

Corey Bennett of Hydel High said his school would consider the trip “as long as we can get some visas and some financing to go”.

— Paul Reid

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