By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Trackalerts.com Contributor
There 2014 season of the Gibson Relays Carnival is worth going miles to see.
Gibson Relays 2014 will take place on Saturday at the National Stadium in Kingston.
The turnout is expected to be high, as the meet is highly regarded as a mock exam, which will test the readiness of the athletes before the Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships in March.
The mind games have already started between some schools and coaches, which is adding a fair amount of intrigue and boosting ticket sales.
The best thing about the Gibson Relays is that all the high schools that have been avoiding each other early in the season will now come face to face like gladiators; this usually give the fans value for money.
Here are few mouthwatering clashes on the day:
Class One Boys’ 4X100m – Kingston College (KC) sent a strong message at the Milo Western Relays with an impressive 40.03 clocking.
However, it was the post-race comments of one of the coaches Raymond (K.C.) Graham that got people whispering.
Coach Graham described the 4×100-metre relay KC team as ‘the best this year.’
He revealed that the strongest team did not represent KC in the sprint relay.
On that same day, Calabar registered an equally stunning 40.04 seconds in winning the sprint relay at the Camperdown Classics at the National Stadium.
To me, Calabar did not run its best team as the third leg runner ran slower than the class three sprinters.
I am expecting both teams to run 39 seconds when they field their strongest sides barring any mishaps. St. Jago and Jamaica College (JC) should also be in the mix.
Class Two Boys’ 4x100m – There is no stopping this KC Class Two team who will be racing against the clock.
The KC sprint quartet decimated the event record at the Western Relays posting a mind boggling 40.84 seconds despite some awful baton exchanges.
And if KC get its act right, the stadium turf will be on fire.
It will be a treat to see the KC pair of Jhevaughn Matherson and Akeem Bloomfield in action.
We hope that Calabar, St. Jago, Camperdown and JC can keep up with the pace to at least the final changeover.
Class Three Boys’ 4x100m – The Calabar team with the likes of Tyreke Wilson, Dejour Russell and Christopher Taylor will face its sternest test to date against a dangerous looking KC team.
At the Milo Western Relays, this KC team lowered the championship record to 44.08 seconds, whilst Calabar won at the Camperdown Classics also on the same day in 44.04 seconds.
It should be a ding-dong battle between these two bitter rivals for the top prize. The other teams like JC and St. Jago will be at least five to ten metres behind KC and Calabar.
I am expecting the Class Three Boys’ 4x100m to produce a record or some other drama.
Class Four Boys’ 4x100m – KC swept all the sprint relays at the Milo Western meet with this young quartet smashing the record by over a second coming home in 45.09 seconds.
St. Jago and JC posted times of 46.24 and 46.64 respectively at the Camperdown Classics.
The strength of Calabar is unknown as the team was disqualified in its heat at the Camperdown Classics.
St. Jago has put together a seemingly unstoppable quartet in this event running times at least six seconds faster than most of its opponents this season.
I have seen World Youth champion Martin Manley on St Jago’s anchor leg; however, the youngster that has caught everyone’s attention was Nathon Allen with his speed.
St. Jago has so far posted a season best time of 3:10:40.
St Jago’s rivals have registered the following times:
1. STETHS – 3:16:71 (without Marvin Williams)
2. Calabar – 3:17:14 (without Javon Francis or Michael O’Hara)
3. KC – 3:17:44
4. Munro College – 3:17:52
5. JC 3:17:65
This race is usually a standing ovation event and this year many persons are waiting to see the clash between Javon Francis (Calabar), Martin Manley (St. Jago), Okeen Williams (STETHS) and Devaughn Baker (JC) on the anchor legs for their schools.
Many persons follow this particular event with keen interest because more often than not it is a ‘champs’ decider.
Class One Girls’ 4x100m – Based on the times seen this season, Edwin Allen seem to be the strongest quartet.
The school’s season best of 44.65-second record run at the Milo Western Relays has sent a strong signal that the Clarendon-based team is the number one ranked side.
No other team has even done 45 second splits, as the next best time is 46.26 by Holmwood Technical.
I suspect however, that Holmwood Technical has been playing mind games and we will see the real deal at the Gibson Relays.
Holmwood has in its squad Chanice Bonner, Diana Johnson, Yanique Thompson and Sashalee Forbes who can beat any team although one must admit that Edwin Allen’s season best time is special.
The two top sprinters from Wolmer’s Girls in Classes One and Two respectively were seen walking up and down, smiling and waving to fans in the grandstand at the Camperdown Classics and did not compete in the relays.
I have a gut feeling that with so much pride at stake this event will spring a few surprises on the day.
Class Two Girls’ 4×100 – Another highlight event with no fewer than six schools battling for supremacy.
Holmwood Technical and Hydel High are the front-runners with Green Island and St. Jago worthy challengers. Wolmer’s Girls with Shauna Helps are outsiders.
Without a doubt, this race will be a cracker. Some schools have not yet fielded their strongest teams but we have to use their best times posted this season as a guide:
· Holmwood Tech – 46:44
· Green Island – 46:87
· Hydel School – 46:95
· St. Jago – 47:16
· Wolmer’s Girls – 47:31
· Edwin Allen – 47:40
Class Three Girls’ 4x100m – This race will be an organizer’s delight. It should be three the hard way as the outstanding teams from the high riding Hydel, the spirited Edwin Allen and the blazing St. Jago with the one and only Kimone Shaw lock horns.
The form guide shows:
· Hydel High School – 46:44
· Edwin Allen High – 46:50
· St. Jago (without Kimone Shaw) 47:94
Class Four Girls’ 4X100m – The St. Jago team has looked unbeatable all season in this class and will be seeking to go all the way.
The Hydel School has been impressive in the lower classes since coming on the scene and could be St. Jago’s biggest threat.
The season best are:
· St. Jago – 48:15
· Hydel High – 49:08
· Edwin Allen – 49:36
· Convent of Mercy – 49:56
Mile Relay Girls
Finally, there is an event where the once mighty Vere Technical will feature in the top four.
This race will come alive on the third and anchor legs where team tactics, speed and endurance will play an integral role in the outcome. The top teams and times are:
1. Edwin Allen – 3:41:73
2. Vere Technical – 3:41:94
3. St. Jago – 3:42:69
4. Holmwood Tech – 3:47:75
Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is an avid track & field fan and former Kensington Cricket Club player. Email – firstname.lastname@example.org