By Robert Taylor, Special to Trackalerts.Com
The talent level in Jamaica high school male hurdling is interesting to say the least. The second place finisher Tyler Mason at the high school class 1-110mh hurdles came second at the world junior championship. He came second to Belocian, one the most dominant junior hurdler in a long time. They both break the world junior record with Belocian running 12.99 the first sub-13 for a junior for a junior hurdler. Mason time of 13.06 is now theJamaica junior record.
The winner of the Jamaica high school championship, Jaheel Hyde is now the world youth record holder with a time of 12.96 and the world junior champion over the 400mh with a time of 49.29. A time that would have beaten many seniors this year, since the 400mh height is same for both junior and senior. As great as Mason and Hyde seem, there is a raging debate among some that Michael O’Hara could be better. This is based on the fact that he beat them both consistently over the years. I can see where this opinion came from and to be fair there is merit to it.
On the other hand, the Tyler Mason we saw at the development meets and Jamaica high school championship is not the same person we saw running at the world junior championship. The same can be said about Jaheel Hyde in relation to the youth Olympics. With all three at their peak, who would win? For me, it would be extremely difficult to say. When I look at the anchor leg Hyde ran at 2013 Penn Relays 4×100 high school boys final, I realize how underrated his speed is. Many know of the speed of Michael O’Hara since he is a world youth champion and world junior medalist and Tyler Mason seems to have the superior hurdling technique of the three. It would be interesting to see these three athletes at their peak going at it. Many say O’Hara would have been the dominant hurdler if he ever chooses the hurdles over the short sprints. I believe it would be two highly competitive races against Hyde. As for Tyler Mason, I would not discount him over a 110m race. It is not thatJamaica does not have more quality high school hurdlers but Hyde, Ohara and Mason are a cut above the rest.
The fact that there is a debate about someone out of Jamaica potentially able to beat world junior silver medalist, world junior gold and worth youth record holder says how far the hurdles program have reach in Jamaica. The thing about success is that it breeds more success. Currently Hansle Parchment of Jamaica is the 2012 London Olympics 110mh bronze medalist and has the 2104 world leading time of 12.94. He could be a catalyst for kids with genuine speed to take the hurdles seriously. If the senior continue to give a good account of themselves and those trying to break through the senior ranks find success, the current high school talents might gain confidence and resolve from this.
With all the outcry and questions, being asked about the Jamaica lack of quality male 400m runners in their senior ranks is not it weird that the 110m hurdles event takes off first. Many highlighted the fact that Jamaica has so many quality 100m and 200m runners but nothing for the male 400m. The same people fail to ask the same question about the 110m hurdles. I think we all were blinded by the rich history of Jamaican quarter-milers.
The great Olympians of Herb McKenley, George Rhoden and Arthur Wint in addition there is Bertalnd Cameron, 1983 world champion. Thus, rise of the male sprint hurdlers in Jamaica occur without any critics or questions. I guess many focuses more on the 400m than the 110mh, without realizing that a sprinter transition to 110mh hurdles at a young age is easier once he has the coach. Moreover, very rarely have I seen a Jamaican high school coach move his sprinter to become a 400m runner even though many coaches use quarter mile program as the base for their sprinters.
Do not be surprise if the next few years Jamaica high school system starts to produce top quality male hurdlers at levels similar to that of the short sprints. Mason, Hyde and O’Hara could be the push for of long line of high caliber sprinters mastering the hurdling technique. When one look at it logically, it is quite reasonable to see the sprint hurdles take off before the 400m. Still I am hoping the 45 seconds senior quarter milers become a thing of the past.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, TrackAlerts.com.