By Noel Francis, Trackalerts.Com Contributor
The curtains came down on yet another exciting Gibson Relays leaving many passionate track & field fans locally and overseas in ecstasy. There were several breathtaking performances to last a lifetime. For the first time this season, we got a chance to see the eagerly awaited clashes among high schools that had been stimulating our discussions for weeks.
It will be challenging to comment on every event; therefore, a concerted effort was made to look back at some of the main highlights of the meet.
BOYS 4X100M CLASS I
The stage was set for Kingston College and Calabar High School to settle all arguments as to who possesses the better team. The qualifying heats further heightened our expectations, as the St. Jago team also looked capable of running below 40 seconds. The first disappointment for me was the absence of the highly-touted Zharnel Hughes from the Kingston College team in the finals.
This did not affect the chances of the famed purples though who had adequate personnel to choose from and challenge a confident looking ‘Rabalac’ quartet. The contest was quite even up to the final exchange when a terrible mix up destroyed K.C’s hopes.
In my opinion the outcome was never in doubt, however, the fans were robbed of a fierce duel between the arch-rivals and with Calabar going on to win in a record 39.61 seconds, many fans were left asking what if K.C had collected the baton. The answer to that question will be known next month and while the Gibson Relays gave a few schools bragging rights, some K.C. fans would rather have a mishap now than at ‘champs’.
As a track & field fan I hope to see Zharnel Hughes at ‘champs’ and by extension clean baton exchanges all-round from all finalists in the class 1 4x100m and expect a new record from………….
BOYS 4X100M CLASS 2
As I stated in an earlier article, this Kingston College class 2 team has the ability to establish a proud legacy. Their performances in both the 4×100 meter and 4×200 meter at the Gibson Relays proved to everyone that they are in menacing form and it would take nothing short of a miracle to deny them at ‘champs’.
Their record run of 40.65 seconds on Saturday in the 4x100m sent a clear message that the ‘champs’ record of 40.54 seconds established last year by Jamaica College is now in the departure lounge. The only concern I have for this K.C team is the lack of competition they are getting from their opponents, which might affect how fast they run.
On the other hand, some cautious supporters would rather play it safe and collect the maximum 12 points than lose it all going for a record at ‘champs’. I prefer both the win and record.
BOYS 4X100M CLASS 3
Without a doubt, the Calabar class 3 team produced the performance of the meet with an astounding time of 41.83 seconds. It was the first time a team in this age group was going below 42 seconds. Many persons expected a closer contest between Kingston College and Calabar who produced almost identical winning times at the Milo Western and Camperdown Classics respectively.
I do not believe the most optimistic Calabar supporters could have predicted such a blowout. The margin of victory was so great that you got the feeling that this event represents the safest points for Calabar at ‘champs’.
BOYS 4X400M OPEN
Many persons traveled miles to get a sneak preview of what is considered the biggest race at ‘champs’, the 4x400m open. From as early as 10:00 am, I witnessed persons placing bets on St. Jago High and discounting Calabar’s chances. For the first two legs, it seemed they were correct as St. Jago through Nathon Allen opened up a huge margin and looked all over the likely winners.
However, Calabar and more importantly their two top runners had other ideas. A tremendous run from Michael O’Hara brought Calabar back into the contest as he closed a 25-meter deficit to within 3 meters. It was now up to IAAF World Championships 4x400m silver medallist Javon Francis to showcase one of his trademark anchor leg splits. World Youth Champion Martin Manley of St. Jago was expected to maintain his small advantage, give Francis a run for his money, and cement his school’s favourite tag.
Javon Francis made an audacious move at the 200m mark, which immediately decided the contest. I am not sure if Martin Manley was caught by surprise and panicked but his usual calm and calculating demeanor was evidently missing. Calabar went to win the event by over 10 meters in a record 3:07.00. I believe Javon Francis’ current level of confidence makes him fear no other schoolboy athlete and he struck a psychological blow on Saturday the magnitude of which will be measured in another four weeks.
Please stay tune for Part 2 where will feature the Girls
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Noel Francis) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.