It was another ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships (“Champs”) to savor. Congratulations to the respective male and female team titlists – Calabar High School and Edwin Allen High School. Congratulations, also, to all the other athletes, coaches, administrators, and volunteers who helped to make the latest edition of the greatest high school athletics meet on earth the unqualified success that it was. Below is my feeble attempt to select the 14 best performances from an outstanding field of candidates.
11.19 seconds (Christania Williams, Class 1 Girls 100m)
After a couple of seasons marred by injuries, Edwin Allen’s Christania Williams rocketed back into the picture to give local track and field fans a tantalizing taste of what we’ve been missing. (Wolmer’s Jonielle Smith, who ran a personal time of 11.32 seconds for second in the event, also did herself very proud. If she continues to improve at the rate she has been, she should definitely be a medal contender at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene come July.)
If she remains fit and focused, Williams should be one of Jamaica’s leading senior female sprinters for many years to come.
6.30 metres (Annastacia Forrester, Class 2 Girls Long Jump)
The 17 year-old Manchester High School student jumped 6.22 metres in qualifying. (This qualifying distance would have gotten her into the final of the last World Junior Championships.) In the Champs final, she improved to 6.30 metres. (This mark would have tied her for 11th at that global event.) Manchester High’s coaches have definitely got the formula right when it comes to producing quality female long jumpers.
6.45 metres (Claudette Allen, Class 1 Girls Long Jump)
The 19 year-old Edwin Allen High School athlete produced a personal best leap of 6.45 metres to land gold. (This mark would have earned her 7th place in the final of the event at the last World Junior Championships.) She should definitely be a big factor when the next edition rolls around in a few months time.
44.17 seconds (Edwin Allen High School, Class 1 Girls 4x100m Relay)
What do you get when you combine three of the nation’s fastest high school sprinters (Christania Williams, Saqukine Cameron, and Monique Spencer) with a backstretch “beastess” like Claudette Allen? Well, at Champs it was proven that you get the second fastest 4×100-metre high school quartet in the history of the world with a sizzling 44.17 second effort.
10.12 seconds (Zharnel Hughes, Class 1 Boys 100m)
Anguilla’s silky smooth Zharnel Hughes cruised to the fastest time ever witnessed at Champs – 10.12 seconds.
The fact that the 18 year-old CARIFTA and Junior CAC 100-metre champion is being conditioned by sprint coach extraordinaire Glen Mills points to him only continuing to improve as the season progresses. He’ll definitely need to if he’s to capture a title even more coveted than the Champs crown: the World Junior 100-metre crown. Two of the men he’s likely to face in Eugene – America’s Trayvon Bromell and Japan’s Yoshide Kiryu – have both already logged times of 10.01 seconds in their respective careers. There will also be a clutch of talented Jamaican and British sprinters who he’ll have to tangle with.
10.16 seconds (Jevaughn Minzie, Class 1 Boys 100m)
Bog Walk High’s Jevaughn Minzie has been a “nearly man” for quite a while now. He “nearly” clinched the gold at Champs as well. However, he was rewarded with a time of 10.16 in the process, which positions him perfectly to secure his place among the best junior sprinters in the world. (He backed up his 100-metre exploits with a brand spanking new personal best and gold in the 200 metres.)
10.29 seconds (Raheem Chambers, Class 2 Boys 100m)
Raheem Chambers basically replicated the race that won him the Under-18 Boys 100-metre title at CARIFTA Trials a few weeks ago. Another fast start and composed finish powered him across the finish line ahead of Matherson.
In the process, he took down another of Yohan Blake’s Champs records. The repeatability of his race pattern and his uncanny ability to execute it in pressure situations suggests that he’ll be right in the mix for a spot on the World Junior team when June rolls around.
10.37 seconds (Jhevaughn Matherson, Class 2 Boys 100m)
First-year Class 2 athlete Matherson finished second to Chambers in what was one of the most highly anticipated events of the 2014 edition of Champs. However, even in defeat, the young Kingston College phenom still managed to steal some of the headlines with this outstanding effort. Research suggests that only Darrel Brown, who clocked 10.36 seconds to win the Under-17 title at the CARIFTA Games in 2000, has gone faster in his 15th year of life.
21.72 seconds (Tyreke Wilson, Class 3 Boys 200m)
Last year, Jhevauhgn Matherson became the first Class 3 boy to dip below the mythical 22-second barrier with an outstanding 21.87 second effort in the final of the 200 metres. One naturally figured that such a superb mark would stand the test of time. However, the very next year, Tyreke Wilson comes along and puts down an astonishing new record run of 21.72 seconds – into a 2.7 metre per second headwind!
Wilson and Matherson will match strides again in Class 2 next year. I get the distinct impression that the younger of the two sprint phenoms won’t just stand idly by as his rival crowns himself in double sprint glory. He’ll be pushing him all the way to the line – and a few more records, possibly.
45.00 second (Javon Francis, Class 1 Boys 400m)
Francis again proved himself a man among boys, tossing my dream of an epic three-way shootout between himself, the fast rising Nathan Allen, and the “strategically” MIA Martin Manley straight out the window with this romp.
I guess his stunning 45-flat effort, which broke the legendary Usain Bolt’s former record, justified World Youth champion Manley’s decision to avoid a potentially career-defining clash.
48.72 seconds (Christopher Taylor, Class 3 Boys 400m)
Calabar High’s Chris Taylor absolutely blitzed the field in the final of the Class 3 Boys 400-metre event to win gold in 48.80 seconds. However, before he romped to victory on Saturday, he rewrote the record books on Tuesday with this amazing gun-to-tape run in the heats.
49.49 seconds (Jaheel Hyde, Open Boys 400m Hurdles)
17 year-old Jaheel Hyde’s decimation of a quality field in the 400m hurdles final at Champs was one of the most spell-binding performances turned in at the meet. Beating World Youth champ Marvin Williams by over 1.5 seconds and the gifted Okeen Williams by over 2 seconds reaffirmed the fact that Hyde has the talent required to blossom into one of the best athletes this island has yet produced.
My research has so far yielded only one time by a youth (Under-18) athlete over the junior (Under-20) hurdle height of 36 inches that’s faster than Hyde’s run at Champs: Louis van Zyl scintillating 48.89 second effort to win gold at the World Junior Championships back in 2002. (Incidentally, that performance was also turned in at Kingston’s National Stadium.) If Hyde continues on his current trajectory, there’s a chance that he might soar past van Zyl before the year is out.
2.23 metres (Christoff Bryan, Class 1 Boys High Jump)
Christoff Bryan’s new Class 1 high jump standard of 2.23 metres would have challenged for a medal at almost every World Junior Championships staged to date.
It would actually have been good enough for gold in a couple. A marginal miss at 2.26 suggests that the 17 year-old jumping prodigy has quite a bit more in store to tackle the many loftier challenges that await him this year.
39.35 seconds (Calabar High School, Class 1 Boys 4x100m Relay)
No Javon Francis. No problem. No high school boy’s 4x100m team in history has ever run faster than the quartet of Edward Clarke Jr., Michael O’Hara, Jullane Walker, and Seanie Selvin.
Jamaica College (39.69 seconds) and St. Jago High (39.86 seconds) also produced some outstanding performances.
41.81 seconds (Calabar High School, Class 3 Boys 4x100m Relay)
An obscene time for a quartet of 13 and 14 year-old boys.
Only four crack Class 2 quartets – Jhevaughn Matherson’s Kingston College, Anthony Carpenter’s Calabar, Jelani Walker’s St. George’s College, and Raheem Chambers’ St. Jago – went faster in either the heats or final at Champs 2014.
3:08.31 (St. Jago High School, Open Boys 4x400m)
The fastest 4×4 time in the history of Champs. Enough said.
The Benchwarmer’s Point of View will return during my next post. Until then, enjoy the official theme song (and music video) – Char Chokka Hoi Hoi – for the ongoing ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh.
I must admit that I can’t understand about 95% of what is being said, but it’s surely got a vibe to it.
Ciao for now.