Stunning news accompanied the 4×400 teams as they marched out for the last event of Boys and Girls Championships 2017. Kingston College had become the second team to break the 300 point barrier. The Purples stood at 309, the biggest haul in Champs history, and yet, the fate of the Mortimer Geddes Trophy, the symbol of supremacy in high school athletics, was yet to be decided.
Calabar, who broke 300 in 2015, had done it again with 305 and had the best 4×400 team in the nation. Though the Purples hoped for the best, they must have wondered, ‘How did Champs come down to this?’ Known for accuracy, the Champs Preview predicted a 364 – 328 winning margin for Kingston College. Others plotted the difference between first and second as 50 points.
Injuries to Class 1 sprint gem Jhevaughn Matherson and top rated Class 2 hurdler-jumper Wayne Pinnock hit hard. Tabbed for 36 points, they earned just 7 and with Calabar athletes moving up in the spaces they vacated, the loss was critical. In addition, they were unable to do relay duty with Matherson likely to run a cameo in the 4×400 if needed.
However, Calabar did more than accept an easy catch in the slips. Kimar Farquharson showed his school’s intent with a removal of the 20 year-old Class 2 800 record in the heats, leaving it at 1 minute 51.26 seconds. In the 1500, he set the pace for teammate Kevroy Venson who strode by KC Ugandan Aryamanya Rogers. Venson blasted that record to smithereens in 3.55.30.
Calabar’s quality came to light in the Class 1 110 hurdles as Dejour Russell added to his Class 2 and 3 titles by breaking Omar McLeod’s 2013 mark of 13.24 seconds. Russell, who had injury issues earlier in the season, produced a smooth 13.21.
Records also fell to Jahvel Granville of St Jago whose time of 12.91 floored the 13 second barrier in the Class 3 100 metre hurdles and the Petersfield giant Kevin Nedrick who set a Champs and national junior record of 20.65 metres in the Class 1 shot. Jeremy Farr of Wolmer’s sweetened his double gold performance by establishing the record for the new Class 2 400 metre hurdles at 51.44 seconds. Calabar’s Nicquaine Henry and Andre Leslie placed second and third.
With the door to the trophy cracked open, Calabar accelerated. Its reliable ‘Dream Team’ of Tyreke Wilson, Christopher Taylor, Michael Stephens and Russell led from the front. Stephens took the Class 1 100, with Wilson second. Taylor did his customary 200-400 double with Wilson third in the 200 and with teammate Anthony Carpenter leading to 397 metres in the long event. Russell led Calabar teammate Orlando Bennett home in the hurdles. A Class 3 long quinella didn’t hurt either.
Rogers struck back for Kingston College late in the meet with 9 of his 16 points coming with his first place in the 5000 metres. Full of energy, he did a victory lap with the Ugandan flag. That win solidified Kingston College strength in long distance events as outgoing senior Shane Buchanan had earlier won the steeple.
Carey McLeod did his best to counter the Dream Team in Class 1. He bounced to an expected long jump/triple jump double, with name sake Scott McLeod taking the Class 3 high jump. Additional KC wins came in the Class 3 4×100, in the Class 2 high jump from Mitchell Bailey, in the decathlon from Donovan Thames, in the Class 2 long jump from Shaquille Lowe and in the javelin from Aval Denton.
It wasn’t enough. Stennett’s 0.01 loss to Rahiem Scott of Rusea’s in the 200, a fall for Davian Williams in the Class 2 400 hurdles heat, subpar returns in the Class 2 sprints and a Calabar shut out of gold and silver in the Class 1 400 for Kingston College ace Deshawn Morris put the Green-and-Blacks in striking distance.
A controversial disqualification of Collin Rowe of KC in the Class 1 800 was critical. The Jury of Appeal apparently decided that Rowe committed the more serious offence in a clash with Calabar’s Javontae Williams. The result? Rowe got a red card and no points and Williams a yellow and held on to 3 points for finishing 7th.
So it all came down to the 4×400. Led by Taylor, Calabar duly won in 3 minutes 08.76 seconds but KC had to stay close. Arriving undefeated and second fastest in the nation at 3.12.01 and with third place sufficient to the task, the Purples didn’t quite do enough. With the Class 1 800 winner Rayon Butler and runner-up Javauney James supplying the speed, STETHS clocked 3.09.97 for silver. Jamaica College and St Jago also intercepted KC with seasonal best times of 3.11.00 and 3.11.77. KC managed 3.13.36.
The victory gave Calabar its 27th hold on the top spot 317 – 314. Only Kingston College, with 31, has more.
Nedrick, McLeod and Denton said goodbye to Champs with their first ever trips to the top of the podium and Butler, a winner for Holmwood before his move to STETHS, left a year early. The Preview wishes them every success.
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