By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
As the countdown continues towards that highly anticipated week in March, many knowledgeable track & field fans can hardly wait to be entertained at the 2015 Boys & Girls Championship. The early season display from the athletes, have ignited the passionate track & field fans and journalists, some of whom will be travelling from as far as Europe, Asia, North America and South America to witness the enthralling spectacle inside the National Stadium.
The level of excitement that will emanate throughout the 5-day event is unmatched anywhere else in the world. I am confident that spectators will not be disappointed and will get value for their money and the time spent in securing tickets. Many pundits expect a number of record-breaking feats, which augurs well for the viewing public.
In this five part series, a keen analysis of some events, athletes and predictions at ‘Champs 2015’ will be explored. We will first look on the boys’ side, where the traditional high schools such as Jamaica College (J.C.), Calabar, St. Jago High and Kingston College (K.C.) will again engage in a fierce battle for the top prize. Here are some of the most eagerly awaited clashes with a few predictions.
100 Meter CLASS 111
Every year in every class, future stars appear at Boys & Girls Champs. The 2015 edition is no different and a few upcoming individuals are marked for greatness. Track fans should observe Anthony Haslam of Jamaica College. The former New Providence Primary standout has made a smooth transition to the big league and should impress at ‘Champs’ this year. Haslam will however have to wait his turn as St. Jago High’s Class 3 star athlete Taiwane Garriques defeated him convincingly at the Camperdown Classics in February. Garriques, a fifth place finisher in last year’s outstanding final, has been sprinting well this season and should start as one of the favourites in this age group. Another exciting St. Jago High School prospect is Daniel Chambers. He is the younger brother of Class 2 record holder Raheem Chambers. Fans can look out for similarities in their sprinting techniques; however, the younger Chambers has better top end speed. He too like Haslam will gain a lot of experience for next year.
From all accounts, it seems Kingston College has one of the strongest Class 3 aggregations and it is widely believed by their supporters that they will sweep the top two spots in this event. Leading their charge should be the duo of Akeem Smith and Oshane Peart. Both have looked impressive so far and will be aiming to live up to the hype.
This race is not likely to be as fast like previous years with sub-11 seconds sprinting, nevertheless, it should be an exciting affair. In due time, these athletes will blossom and achieve greater heights.
100 Meter CLASS 11
Many track-loving fans are looking forward to the renewed rivalry between the peerless Jhevaughn Matherson of K.C. in his second year in class two and Calabar’s speed merchant Tyreke Wilson who came within a whisker of erasing Matherson’s Class 3 record in 2014. Both young men have a history of featuring in record-breaking races at ‘Champs’ and it is left to be seen if the 1 year record of 10.29 seconds established by St. Jago’s Raheem Chambers will survive.
Matherson who finished second in that hotly contested event last year clocking 10.37 seconds should start as the favourite. Calabar’s Tyreke Wilson was very eager for ‘Champs 2014’ to start last year; we hope he has that same hunger for the competition this year. Wilson (10.55) this season has been running faster than he did last year with every race whilst Matherson who has the ability to glide effortlessly away from opponents is waiting for the right moment to run a new personal best.
Matherson looked in some discomfort after completing the second baton exchange at the Gibson McCook Relays in the Class 2 4x100m. He did not compete at the 2015 JAAA CARIFTA trials and his form his now a cause for concern among the Kingston College fraternity.
Other athletes vying for honours in this race include the powerfully built Dejour Russell of Calabar, Yashawn Hamilton of Kingston College and Jamaica College’s duo of Chislon Gordon and Jordan Roberts. If all athletes show up in a healthy state, this event will give fans an idea of the sprinting prowess that decorates this class.
100 Meter CLASS 1
This event was one of the most memorable races in 2014. The top six finalists all ran under 10.5 seconds with the impressive Zharnel Hughes of Kingston College running the perfect race edging Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk in a new record of 10.12 seconds.
The only disappointment for track fans was the absence of Calabar’s Michael O’Hara who false started in the semi-finals. O’Hara returns this season with a lot to prove, and has looked in pristine condition so far and seems on a mission to redress last year’s meltdown. Of all the sprinters seen in this age group so far this season, O’Hara seems the fittest, strongest and fastest.
However, some persons feel he will come under tremendous pressure in his quest to capture this coveted title. His stiffest challenge should come from St. Jago’s first year class 1 speedster Raheem Chambers. Many track enthusiasts are excited about the potential clash between O’Hara and Chambers, as they firmly believe that both have unfinished business dating back to their Class 2 encounters.
Chambers, who won the 2014 CARIFTA under-18 100m title and currently holds the ‘Champs’ Class 2 100m record (10.29) possess an explosive start whilst O’Hara is a devastating finisher. At the 2015 CARIFTA Trials, fans got a teaser when O’Hara comfortably chased down Chambers to win the Under-20 Boys 100m title in 10.45 seconds running into negative (-1.5) headwind. It was obvious that both athletes were running reservedly and probably waiting for the right moment to go full speed ahead.
Another dark horse in this event is Wolmerian Raheem Robinson. The sometimes forgotten speedster ran a great race in the final last year claiming the bronze medal in a personal best of 10.37 seconds. He is also an explosive starter like his namesake from St.Jago, which could provide some commentators with a tongue twister challenge.
St. Jago’s Chad Walker is another worthy competitor; however, after serving the I.S.S.A mandatory I year sit out transfer clause, fitness concerns has now caused him to look different from the sprinter that impressed so many persons last year. Nigel Ellis (10.45) of St. Elizabeth Technical High is the surprise package of this field and he alongside another Calabar athlete Edward Clarke Jnr, should make this final an extremely tense affair.
Kingston College lacks the firepower to defend their title in this event. Their top sprinters Chadayne Walker and newly recruited Shivnarine Smalling formerly of Newell High School have solid reputations, however, their preparations have been interrupted by injuries at different stages. Finally, I hope this year everybody control their nerves and wait on the starter, as track fans cannot handle any more drama in the blocks.