6) Tyrese Reid vs Ackeen Colley (Class I 800m)
Spot Valley’s Reid and Colley, who reps Rusea’s, have been freely trading victories over each other at both 800m and 1,500m this season. In their most recent duel, the taller Colley decisively dismissed his archrival (1:53.44). However, Reid still holds the fastest time by a Jamaican high schooler heading into Champs at 1:51.11.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about Reid, in particular, possibly breaking the ‘grandpappy’ of all Champs records: Sherwin Burgess’ 1:48.84, set way back in 1987. I really can’t say I see that happening, though. The overall depth in the CI field is quite impressive, but the quality at the absolute top end doesn’t seem to be there to do it just yet. I’d be elated with even a marginal sub-1:50 winning time.
7) Keenan Lawrence vs Shemar Salmon (Open 5,000m)
The recent rule change regarding the number of events that an athlete is permitted to do has certainly injected an added dose of uncertainty into pre-Champs prognostications everywhere. KC’s Shane Buchanan would certainly be among the medal favourites if he foregoes competing in either the 2,000m steeplechase or the 1,500m. The same can be said for his teammate Aryamanya Rodgers, assuming he sits out either the 800m or the 1,500m.
If both don’t compete, we’ll likely be left with a rematch of the CARIFTA Under-20 final in the grueling twelve and a half lap event. The smooth-moving Lawrence (15:28.19), who got the better of STETHS’ Shemar Salmon (15:34.01) on that occasion, should again start as a slight favourite.
8) Shaquille Lowe vs Wayne Pinnock (Class II Long Jump)
There hasn’t been much separating KC teammates Lowe and Pinnock during their numerous match-ups so far this season. The most notable occasion on which this wasn’t the case was the CARIFTA Trials. Thirty centimetres was the width of the eventual gulf between the sprint hurdling Pinnock and his friendly rival.
Suffice to say, I’d be really surprised, one way or the other, if they were anywhere near as far apart at Champs.
9) Roje Stona vs Kevin Nedrick (Class I Discus)
St. Jago’s CARIFTA Trials Under-20 champion Stona is the season leader in the event with an impressive best of 60.50m. While copping the coveted crown, he beat prohibitive shot put favourite Nedrick (59.70m) by less than a metre. The Petersfield man, however, seemingly rode the momentum generated by this personal best performance to a confidence-boosting win over his erstwhile nemesis at G.C. Foster Classics about a week later.
Travis Smikle’s record (66.88m), which is one of the most challenging at Champs, is unlikely to be reached. However, it’s quite possible that we could see two Jamaican juniors battling it out at distances beyond 60 metres for gold inside the National Stadium.
10) Jamaica College vs Calabar High (Class II 4x100m Relay)
Kingston College capitalized on Calabar’s baton handling misadventures at Gibson McCook Relays to nip Jamaica College (41.15s to 41.17s) for gold, thanks to a robust anchor from Oshane Peart. Barring a return visit from the fumble bug, however, it’s not likely that those two teams will come back to the line in that order come Champs.
Assuming solid execution, it should be an absolute dogfight between Calabar, JC, and KC. The record (40.54s), which is owned by C-bar’s fantastic foursome from last year, appears to be beyond the legs of each school’s best quartet. However, chances are we’ll see at least three teams breach the 41-second barrier.