By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.com
The short distance sprinters seem to be in blazing form leading up to the Jamaica high school athletic championship. There are speculations that all classes in the boys 100m record could go. Thirteen-year-old Tyreke Wilson of Calabar, last year silver medallist could make it three years in a row that the 100m record will Fall in class 3.
In Class 2, the competition seems to be shaping up to be a three-way dogfight between Raheem Chambers of St .Jago, Akeem Bloomfield and Jevaughn Matherson both of Kingston College (KC). The recently concluded Jamaica 2014 Carifta trials saw Chambers running an astonishing time of 10.28, with the Kingston College (KC) duo of Akeem Bloomfield the new sensation and Jevaughn Matherson last year’s class 3 100m and 200m champion and record holder running 10.42 and 10.50 respectively.
The Carifta trials had both KC athletes finishing behind Chambers with all running lifetime best. Chambers is never someone to take lightly because of his pedigree of strong performances starting from the primary school championship (under 12 years of age) through to last year high school championship where he also won a bronze in the 200m. This race will be exciting in many ways.
The strong possibility exists that the winner or top three might erase Yohan Blake 10.34 record. Based on Carifta trials result, Chambers has the ability to not only take down the record but also obliterate it. My thinking is that with 2 weeks to go all three might turn up running faster. To see so much speed at such a young age will be something the Jamaica fans will watch with an eye on the future. For me, Chambers will be the one to beat. Carifta trials result say it will take a Herculean effort for anyone or two to pose a challenge much less beating him. His confidence must be sky high at this point. It will be interesting to see how much he will take off the record, or if any member of the KC duo can pull off an upset.
If the times ran this year so far is legitimate, then the class 1 100m should not only be the marquee event but definitely the race of the meet if not the decade of champs as of this point in time. Zharnell Hughes of KC is Carifta and junior PANAM champion with a best of 10.21 last year; the then rated number two 100m junior athlete in the world. He will be going up against, world youth 200m champion Michael O’Hara of Calabar who recently ran a 10.29 and Jevaughn Minzie who ran a time of 10.31 at the same meet. Both seemingly could go faster. Hughes also ran an effortless 10.36 on the same day but a different meet.
O’Hara seems to have conquered his weak start in the 100m. Based on the 10.29 race it seems as if it has been corrected. If this is true, he should be a tough athlete to beat. Minzie who is reported to be healthy unlike last year, has run some races this year that say he is ready to be the 100m champion. If the times run so far are any indication, Blake could very well see his record of 10.21 be outdated. The question is, will his Jamaica junior record of 10.11 stands.
All three athletes seem confident about their ability to do something special in the 100m finals. Someone who could possible upset the Favourites is Raheem Robinson of Wolmers boys high school. Last year he led the field in the 100m finals for the first sixty meters. This time around, if he can improve his speed endurance to complement his blazing start we could see the most unexpected 100m finish we will ever see for a long time. I would not be surprise to see him in the thick of things this year but with a better finish than last year.
I would be remiss if I do not make a special mention for Shivnarine Smalling of Newell high school. He recently wins the Western champs 100m with a time of 10.47. Very few knew about him before and this is a testament to the depth of sprinting in the Jamaica high school system. Is he close to his peak or does he have a lot more improvement left before champs? This question will be answered soon. He will definitely have to go faster to make the medal stand. Are there others out there than can upset the favourites? Mario Williams ok KC ran a 10.54 could be another if he improved by champs.
The 200m should be interesting as well. Will we be seeing the impressive Tyreke Wilson Break the class 3 200m record? In class 2, I believe both Bloomfield and Matherson of KC have the speed and the stamina to go after the record. Chambers on the other hand based on 2013 200m races shows that his speed endurance will have to improve significantly for him to better the record. With the physical development of kids from one year to the next, who is to say Chambers will not be far superior to last year?
The Carifta trials 100m tells me Chambers will be a tough proposition for the 200m. This race should be as competitive as the 100m and more than likely, the top three will be representing St. Jago and KC. Chambers unforgettable run of 10.28 makes him the overwhelming favourite in the 100m. The question is will the Bloomfield and Matherson be able to catch him in the 200m? The way Chambers ran that 10.28, it tells he possesses the necessary strength and speed endurance not only to hold off the KC pair but also to run something special.
As for the Bolt 20.25 record that survived the dominant performance of 2013 championship by the world junior 200m champion, Delano Williams. This year could be different. The speed of Hughes, O’Hara, Minzie plus the quarter mile strength of Javon Francis, all might be the answer for breaking Bolt 20.25 record. In terms of 400m strength, Francis and O’Hara might have the edge. Still this does not necessarily mean they have significant or superior sprint endurance than the others.
If the times we saw in the development meets so far is indicative of reality and not wind aided, the class 3 100m, class 2 100m and 200m could go. As for the Class 1, that 10.21 record will be history. With the 20.25, who knows, I would say maybe.
Rumour has it that Michael O’Hara is injured. This I hope is only a rumour and nothing else. He is too much of a talent to be missing from the championship. Injury has been a part of champs history but the missing of O’Hara or having him perform at less than optimum will be a huge loss. I am definitely a fan of his and look forward to see the 100m match up of him, Hughes, Minzie and Robinson. The top three 100m runners (Robinson being the exception) with the addition of incomparable Francis will be contending for the 200m gold medal. If my head were to be put to the block, I would pick Hughes to win the 100m and a much closer finish for Hughes in the 200m. I just think O’Hara and Hughes have too much speed and enough endurance to keep out Francis from the victory position. I say Hughes because of his last year performance and the advancement I see in his technique this year. Funny, I will not be surprise if I am wrong.
This Jamaica high school championship could very well mean the end of Bolt and Blake name in the Jamaica high school record book. Of course, many will compare who run what at what age and try to project the potential of these young athletes. This I think is a fallacy. Too many variables involve when forming conclusion, especially when comparing with the best this world has seen so far. For me, I will sit and enjoy the atmosphere, the cheering and of course, the high standard of competition I expect to see.