By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
200 Meter CLASS 11
The most promising sprinters in Jamaica at this time are in this class. Calabar, Kingston College, St. Jago High and Jamaica College should feature in a fierce battle for supremacy.
A cracking race is in store if Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College is fully fit and race sharp. He will need to be at his very best to defeat Calabar’s outstanding and confident set of sprinters. The Red Hills Road team can choose from last year’s Class 3 double sprint champion Tyreke Wilson, the multi-talented Dejour Russell or rising star Christopher Taylor. The top three spots should come from any of the four names mentioned.
According to the latest rankings this season, the leading sprinters in this class are Dejour Russell of Calabar (21.16), Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College (21.49), Tyreke Wilson of Calabar (21.66), Michael Bentley of St. Jago High (21.77) and the outstanding Christopher Taylor of Calabar (21.91). The 200m times that will be recorded this year at ‘Champs’ in this class should be much faster than the times done throughout the season and pundits are eager to see which athletes will show up for the event. Calabar has the most firepower in its armoury and fans are anxious to see who will join Tyreke Wilson in the half lap. Russell looked superb at the G.C Foster College Classic and could get the nod while allowing Taylor enough time to rest for the night’s final event, the 4x400m.
By all accounts, ‘Champs 2015’ is going to be very close and points earned in Class 2 will be crucial. Athlete management and team strategy are two key components to winning championships. It is generally accepted that relying on maximum points from injured athletes oftentimes do not go as planned. Therefore, fans are hoping that all athletes report for this big race in a healthy state and produce great entertainment.
200m CLASS 1
The boys Class 1 200m final is always one of the most exciting races at ‘Champs’. This year will be no different with several outstanding sprinters expected to face the starter. St. Jago High’s Chad Walker could finally get his chance to shine at ‘Champs’ after sitting out last year’s championships due to the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (I.S.S.A) mandatory 1 year transfer rules and regulations. Walker who won the 2014 CARIFTA Games Under – 18 200m title will come up against stronger opposition and might need a personal best run to be amongst the medals.
However, if there is one thing we have learnt about St. Jago High’s coach Danny ‘The Maverick’ Hawthorne is his unpredictability. He likes to keep others guessing. We might see Nathon Allen last year’s 4th placed finisher in the final showing up for this event. Allen who ran a personal best (20.73) in the semi-finals last year seems slightly faster than Chad Walker this season over the shorter sprints. From a practical viewpoint Allen should get the nod, however, no one knows what ‘the Maverick’ will decide.
The versatile Martin Manley also of St. Jago High surprised all and sundry last year in this event except his coach when he won the silver medal. He earlier ran some very controlled yet stunning races to signal his medal intentions especially in the semi-final where he ran a personal best of 20.57 seconds. Despite a slow yet measured build up, no one can discount the threat Martin Manley will pose to all his competitors who think the gold medal for this event is a foregone conclusion.
The favourite for this event, all things being considered, is Michael O’Hara of Calabar. His credentials although well known are worth repeating. He is the 2013 World Youth and reigning Carifta Games Under-20 200m Champion. He also won the bronze medal at the 2014 World Junior Games in Eugene, Oregon in a memorable race. O’Hara will be hoping to win gold and possibly lower his personal best of 20.45 seconds at ‘Champs 2015’ and erase last year’s hiccup from his memory where he placed third in the final and secured his only individual medal.
One athlete whom many persons would love to see go up against O’Hara over this distance is Akeem Bloomfield of Kingston College. Bloomfield represents probably Kingston College’s best hope of collecting 9 or 7 points in this event, and despite it being his favourite event, fans may have to wait until next year to see this massive showdown between himself and O’Hara materialize. It will be such a pity, as many observers will not know how fast he could be over 200m this season. O’Hara is expected to be involved in three pulsating finals (100m, 110m hurdles & 200m) and some persons believe with the possible absence of Bloomfield from this event, O’Hara should have less resistance in capturing the gold medal.
Another capable Kingston College athlete who could surprise is Twayne Crooks. Crooks’ speed endurance is commendable and a new personal best from him is likely to occur. He, along with Manley and Allen, could benefit from the 3-hour rest between the 400m and 200m finals, whilst O’hara should contest an intense 110m hurdles final at 4:10 pm and return for the 200m final at 5:40 pm.
This final should be a scintillating event especially if the big guns occupy lanes four to seven. Let us hope all the athletes have the stamina to recover between their finals on Saturday afternoon.