Edwin Allen ready to 'unleash' at Champs

Observer writer

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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Defending girls' champions Edwin Allen High are ready to “unleash” as the 109th staging of the five-day ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships gets underway today at the National Stadium with the first event set for 1:00 pm.

The Michael Dyke-coached team will be seeking their sixth-straight and seventh title overall and will start favourites despite what is expected to be another close and exciting competition from the first day.

Edwin Allen won by 39 points (326) to Holmwood Technical's 287 with Hydel High third with 277 and these three are expected to finish in the top three again this year.

Perennial contenders St Jago High, a surging Excelsior High and former many-time champions Vere Technical are expected to battle out for the top five places come Saturday evening.

The first final will be held tomorrow, but the top teams are expected to start advancing athletes to their respective semi-finals and final before the real rush for points starts on Friday.

Dyke told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that losing the Digicel Grand Prix to Hydel, who they also 'edged' in the Central Championships this week, was the real thing and the girls were “very confident”.

He said: “Don't watch the Grand Prix or Central Champs, we are ready to unleash, this is the real thing. The Grand Prix is only about 15 events and Champs is over 40 events, so it is a different thing.”

Holmwood Technical's Dave Anderson was also confident of a “good showing”, while Hydel High's Corey Bennett says it will come down to what happens “on the day”.

Both Dyke and Anderson, however, agreed that the winner of Champs this year will have to score “around 300-320 points”.

Dyke says while they are expected to win on the basis of their “all-round strength” and will start scoring points early, admitted they might not be as strong as they would like in the 400m events.

The Edwin Allen team is not lacking in confidence and Dyke said “the girls are always confident they can”.

Anderson, who was an assistant to Maurice Wilson during Holmwood Technical's run of nine titles between 2003 and 2011, is not ruling out a first title since 2013, but said “it will come down to execution and who makes the least mistakes”.

He said his team was better than the team that finished second last year.

“For the first time in a few years we have a good Class Four sprint squad, and while we are fairly average in the field, we will still get points,” Anderson noted.

The sprints, he says, was the area he expected to score heavily.

Bennett was not too worried about the athletes he lost last year. “We can't replace them this year, but we must maximise what we have here. People are saying we are not as strong this year, but every one starts with zero points on Tuesday (today)”.

The Hydel coach was not sure which areas to pinpoint as strengths.

“I am not sure, there have been so many ebbs and flows this year, one day we look very good in one area and then the next day, its another area, is the same thing with our weak areas, things are not always the same,” Bennett ended.

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