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No major hiccups among top Champs contenders

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2023 | 1:42 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer

THERE WERE no major hiccups for major title contenders Edwin Allen High and Hydel High among the girls, and Jamaica College (JC) and Kingston College (KC), following the opening qualification rounds as the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletic Championships got under way inside the National Stadium on Tuesday.

In what is expected to be a very close contest, athletes from the four top teams had little difficulty advancing to the next round in the hunt for points in individual events, with 17 finals – nine among the boys and eight for the girls – to be contested today.

Edwin Allen hold the edge over Hydel, especially in the 1500 metres, where all six of their athletes advanced to today’s finals. The likes of Kavongaye Fowler in Class Three, Monique Spencer in Class Two, and Rickeisha Simms and Amoya Johnson look set to score quality points.

In the 100 metres first round, it was perfect for Hydel, where all eight athletes from Class Four through to Class One moved on to today’s semi-finals, with good chances of advancing to the finals later in the day.

The duel remains even after the semi-finals in the Open 400m hurdles. Edwin Allen’s Tonyann Beckford, with 57.90 seconds, was the fastest qualifier, and her teammate, Natasha Fox, timed 1:00.94 to be ranked at number five, while Hydel’s Oneika McAnuff, 58.24, and Alliah Baker, 1:00.36, are ranked second and fourth.

Edwin Allen’s coach, Michael Dyke, said: “I am very happy with the opening day performance of my team as the girls have qualified easily for the next round in their respective events.”

On the boys’ side, the majority of KC and JC’s athletes advanced to today’s finals.

However, KC slipped up in the 400m hurdles, where Shamari Jennings, who was favoured for a top-five placing, failed to advance.

Only one athlete from each team will be involved in the Class One 400m hurdles final – Antonio Forbes of KC and JC’s Princewell Martin.

Both schools, however, have two qualifiers in the Class Two 400 metres hurdles, with Deandre Gayle of JC the fastest qualifier, with 53.13 seconds. His teammate Rojay Black also qualified, while KC’s Taj O’Neil Gordon and Jordan Taylor have also advanced.

Defending champions KC look set to outscore their rivals in the 1500m, especially in classes Two and One, led by Nahashon Ruto, Brian Kiprop, Ethan Gioko and Ainsley Campbell.

With both teams also doing well in the 100m, JC scored a big psychological advantage in Class Three, their weakest area coming into the Championships. Malique Dennis, who came into the meet with 11.39 seconds to rank number eight, stepped up big time as he sped to an impressive 11.06 seconds in a negative 1.7 metres per second wind to be the fastest qualifier and the second fastest time this season. Race favourite Shaun Leslie of St Elizabeth Technical led all qualifiers with 11.05.

In the Class One and Class Two long jump finals, JC look set to dominate and score over 30 points with Uroy Ryan, Michael Edwards and Euan Young.

“The boys have done well, doing what they should do by advancing to the next round in their events despite a few hiccups,” said Leaford Grant, KC’s coach. “But this is Championships and we expect things like this to happen.”