Usain Bolt versus Jermaine Gonzalez (Class I 400m) in 2003. Yohan Blake versus Remaldo Rose (Class I 100m) in 2007. Of a more recent vintage; Michael O’Hara versus Jaheel Hyde (Class I 110m Hurdles) in 2015. These are just a few of the delectable duels over which Boys and Girls Athletics Championships fans have salivated over the years. In 2017, these ten showdowns have the potential to join the ranks of those unforgettable clashes.
1) Terrique Stennett vs Kalani Cook (Class III 100m)
The wealth of resources at Kingston College’s disposal in the CIII sprints makes it hard to be absolutely sure who they’ll send to do battle here. However, assuming all are sound, primary school sensation Stennett, who was fourth in a highly creditable 11.27s time last year, seems certain to fill one slot. (Adrian Kerr will likely fill the other.)
Green Island’s Western Championships 100m gold medalist Cook represents the West’s best hope of holding onto the title claimed by the sensational Sachin Dennis last year. (This, however, could change depending on what the Rusea’s coaches decide to do with 100m/200m/400m dynamo Raheim Scott.)
2) East vs West (Class III 400m)
Very little has been seen of last year’s first-year CIII phenom Devante Heywood so far this season. The Munro standout, who finished second in the event in 2016, looked a good bet to move up a place heading into this season. Now, however, things appear wide open.
Rangy Raheim Scott, out of Rusea’s, could just be the one to front the West’s challenge. He appeared to have plenty of ‘run’ left in him while clocking an impressive 51.06s to take the Western Champs title. The East, meanwhile, will counter with Calabar’s Tajay Roberts and Kingston College’s Bjorn Clarke.
3) Sachin Dennis vs CII Veterans (Class II 100m)
The diminutive Dennis, last year’s CIII 100m winner, is seeking to step right to the head of the line without paying the dues that so many first-year’s before him have had to pay. The phenom from St. Elizabeth Technical highlighted his lofty ambition with a striking 10.66s blitz – less than a 1/10th outside the age-15 world best – at the Youngster Goldsmith meet in early February.
A clutch of contenders with current personal bests ranging from 10.58s to 10.70s will be looking to deny him. Wolmerian Xavier Nairne is the one who owns that 10.5 time, which was done at G.C. Foster Classics. The likes of Calabar’s Chadwick Stewart, Jamaica College’s Michali Everett, and Bridgeport’s Junior Grant, who’s scarcely been seen since dropping a 10.60s time in January, should also factor.
4) Antonio Watson vs Jevaughn Powell (Class II 400m)
Watson overcame the disappointment of a disqualification in his favoured 400m to power away with the 200m title in CIII last year. And if anyone still doubted that he was a fighter; the Petersfield man again rallied from way down to overhaul the front-running Ramone Lindo at CARIFTA Trials a few weeks ago. His reward: a fetching new PB (47.08s).
Edwin Allen’s Powell, the highest placed returnee from last year, appeared to mistime his kick in that race. He was closing like a house on fire, but just ran out of real estate. Nonetheless, his personal best 47.26s effort indicates that better execution could require Watson — or anyone else, for that matter — to go sub-47 to beat him.
5) Christopher Taylor vs Jhevaughn Matherson (Class I 200m)
Calabar’s Taylor clearly signaled his intentions with a stunning 20.59s personal best romp at G.C. Foster Classics. Matherson, meanwhile, has been quietly gathering the ingredients to cook up a killer 200m. He recently complemented his solid early season 400m base work with an impressive 10.25s show of speed in the Under-20 100m final at CARIFTA Trials.
I always find it a bit difficult to imagine anyone breaking the legendary Usain Bolt’s outstanding 20.25s CI record. However, it’s worth noting that Delano Williams bulled his way to within 0.02 seconds of it with an arguably inferior speed-strength profile to either Taylor or Matherson.
***Look out for Eye-catching “Champs” Clashes — Boys (Part II) for match-ups 6-10***