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40th Milo Western Relays on today

Observer writer

Saturday, February 10, 2018

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — A number of big relay clashes are anticipated at today's 40th staging of the Milo Western Relays at Montego Bay Sports Complex, set to start at a new time of 10:00 am, and organisers are expecting that records will tumble.

Over 80 teams, including some of the big names in the country from high schools and clubs/institutions, are down to take part in the event that will have participation from all age groups, from prep/primary through to clubs.

Meet director Ray Harvey said despite some unexpected challenges, the expectations on the track are “as usual, very high”.

Because of the state of public emergency currently under way in sections of St James, the meet that was set to run until just after 8:30 pm will end at 6:00 pm instead.

In addition to the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and sprint medley relays there will be a number of individuals races, including a full set of hurdles races in all classes and long and high jump Open for both genders.

“We had to quickly adjust our schedule after we got the notification from the security forces well into our planning,” he said. “One of the things it does is that we will have to pack nine hours of track and field into eight hours, but we have been doing this for a long time and our organising committee and heads of sections, from the meet director down to the volunteers on the track, are world-class, and we will get it done.”

As far as the competition is concerned, Harvey said they had some of the best. “Obviously this meet is special and we managed to get some really fantastic teams, and the fans who turn out will be in for a treat,” he promised.

Olympic Games and World Championships medallist Sherone Simpson, who trains with the Maurice Wilson-led Sprintec, and Melaine Walker, who returned to the Paul Francis-led MVP last year, will make a return to the event after varying periods of absence, and are set to be part of strong relay teams that will challenge for titles and possible records.

World and Olympic champion Elaine Thompson is expected to lead the powerful MVP sprint relay team that could also include Christania Williams and Janieve Russell.

Jamaica College, which had sent individual athletes in the last few years, will send sprint relay teams and clash with Kingston College, Excelsior High, St Elizabeth Technical and Cornwall College among others in the boys' high schools section, while Edwin Allen, Hydel High and Holmwood are set to be the standard-bearers in the high school girls' section.

G C Foster won three relays last year, UTech had two wins with MVP, UWI and Knox Community College had one each so, based on form, G C Foster, Sprintec and MVP are set to battle out once more.

A powerful quartet of Annastacia Leroy, Natasha Morrison, Simpson and Rhonda Whyte are down to contest all three women's relays and while they could threaten the 1:30.65-seconds record in the 4x200m, they will come up against a tough MVP foursome of Shericka Jackson, Christania Williams, Walker and Thompson.

With good baton changes, the UTech team of Shimayra Williams, Jody Ann Petrie, Jessicca Noble and Kemba Nelson could also have a say in the outcome.

In the men's section of the 4x100m relays, the MVP team of Ramone Barnswell, Delano L Williams, Kavean Smith and Tyquendo Tracey and the Sprintec team of Chadic Hinds, Demish Gaye, Collin King and Rasheed Dwyer are expected to set the pace.

Kingston College, who have dominated the high school boys' relays in recent years, have not won the Class One 4x100m in the last two years, beaten by Cornwall College two years ago and dropping the baton last year when Excelsior High stole the win.

Western schools Rusea's High and Petersfield High are dark horses for the upset this year, but Excelsior High will start favourites to retain their title.

Edwin Allen High and Hydel High have dominated the high school girls' section so far this year and they are expected to lead the charge today, with Rusea's High, Petersfield and St Elizabeth Technical also in the picture and going after titles.

IAAF World Under-18 medallists Antonio Watson of Petersfield High, who won the 400m gold medal, and Edwin Allen's Kevona Davis, who was the bronze medallist in the 100m, will be honoured as the outstanding junior athletes of 2017, while Micheal McIntosh, head coach of Green Island, will be the Meet Patron.

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