It has been 24 years since St Jago last had success on the girls' side of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.
Though Head Coach Keilando Goburn and his team would love to break that lengthy drought at this year's 113th staging, the nature of their programme is such that a top five finish will have to suffice.
The five-day spectacle is scheduled for March 28 to April 1 at the National Stadium.
While he has high hopes for his young but talented group, Goburn is under no illusion that they will topple favourites Edwin Allen and Hydel High to add to the school's four titles won between 1996 and 1999.
"It is a very young team because, of course, we are in the rebuilding process so like two-thirds of the team is in the first year of their class — which is a positive because we are expecting some top performances in the years to come — but for now we are hoping to at least maintain a top four finish," Goburn told the Jamaica Observer.
Last year the Monk Street team tallied 249 points to finish third behind reigning champions Edwin Allen High and their perennial rivals Hydel High. Whether or not they will better that total is left to be seen but Goburn is certainly anticipating some improvement.
"Last year was tough for us because it was actually our first championship coming out of COVID. There were a lot of areas that we wanted to improve on [but], unfortunately, that did not happen. But track and field is a cycle and sometimes the wheel goes around and we just have to wait until it comes back around," Goburn said.
"But I am excited about this young team going forward. I am pleased with where we are and I think we are in a much better position now than we were last year," he noted.
That in and of itself is something Goburn believes is an accomplishment, considering that they had to be meticulous in how they went about their preparations at times.
"It has been tough to an extent because our field was being upgraded, which posed a challenge to the early part of the preparation at the top of the season. We had to make a lot of sacrifices and execute some cut and paste in order to achieve what we have so far," the coach admitted.
"As it stands, there is not much we can do now so, for sure, this season has been a roller coaster season for us. We have faced a lot of challenges but we are resilient and so we are going to keep on fighting.
"Like I said, this is a very talented group, irrespective of how young they are, so we are just looking forward to the championships and we are intent on giving the best account of ourselves," Goburn added.
So who are some of those St Jago athletes from whom spectators can expect explosive performances?
"I really don't like to call names because it's a team effort but we have some talented athletes and we expect an all-round effort; it's not a one-person show. And of course Champs is full of thrills and spills so a lot of the times athletes tend to crack under pressure so we just try to keep them calm and not put anybody under undue pressure," a coy Goburn ended.
St Jago Girls' titles down the years
1996: St Jago
1997: St Jago
1998: St Jago
1999: St Jago
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