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Fireworks expected as Western Champs nears end

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Saturday, February 17, 2018

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — A battle royale is expected today as teams vie for top honours at the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA)/Digicel Western Championships comes to a close at the Montego Bay Sports Complex beginning at 10:00 am.

After two days, Tuesday's field events finals held at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz and Thursday's second day at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, defending girls' champions Rusea's High and Petersfield High, who are seeking their first title in any gender, are the leaders.

Rusea's High will come into the day with a 40-point lead over former champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) 178 to 138, Manning's School are a further 50 points back in third place followed closely by Petersfield on 82 with Mt Alvernia High rounding out the top five on 40 points.

In boys' action Petersfield High hold a slender four-point lead over Munro College (133 to 129) with STETHS within striking distance in third place on 111, and Cornwall College on 87, and Manning's School with 66.

Roderick Myles, the head coach for the Rusea's High team, said while they “were confident, we are not over confident, and plan to work right through the day to ensure that we retain our title”.

Myles said, after scoring 345 points last year, they have targeted 380 this year. “We value ourselves by our points, we set this target that we know we can reach,” he said, adding that after placing athletes in almost all finals today, “it's about accumulating points”.

He told the Jamaica Observer: “It's more mental than anything else at this point. We have put in the hard work and we will do what is necessary.”

Reynaldo Walcott, the STETHS coach had little to say, but told the Observer, “Our chances to win both sections are as good any anyone else's,” but he was quick to add: “We can't make any more mistakes; we can't drop batons in relays or drop points if we are going to win.”

Petersfield High's Machel Woolery said while he was satisfied with how his team had performed over the first two days, he felt they did not have enough qualifiers today to keep off the expected charge from STETHS.

“I would like it if we can go on to win, but I don't think we have the depth to do so as we are expecting STETHS to come good in the 800m and the hurdles,” he said, adding he was targeting about 280 points but that could be short of what is required to win.

In addition to 10 finals contested on Thursday, the top teams were busy qualifying athletes for today's finals, and it is expected that with the inclusion of several national youth and junior representatives, there will be fireworks from start to finish.

The Class Two sprints in both genders could highlight the day's activities in the individual events if Thursday's results are anything to go by.

While STETHS' Sachin Dennis and Petersfield High's Antonio Watson are expected to battle out for the Class Two boys' 200m gold medal, it was another STETHS runner Tyrone Barnes who set the pace with 21.35 seconds in his semi-finals, beating Rusea's High's Raheim Scott with 21.45 seconds.

Dennis won his semi-final in 21.61 seconds, easing up well before the finish line, while Watson the IAAF World Under-18 400m champion won his semi-final in 21.72 seconds, also cruising the second half of the race after a blazing fast first 100 metres.

Dennis will also start favourite to win the Class Two 100m with William Knibb Memorial's Andre Bent expected to provide most competition.

In the girls' section, Mt Alvernia High's Monique Malcolm, Rusea's High's Lashwan Haye, and Spot Valley High's Leyone Smith should give the crowd a treat.

Rusea's High's Champs gold medallist and IAAF World Under-18 representative could challenge the 14.23 seconds record set in 2015 by Marvin Williams in the Class One 110m hurdles.

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