Third Northern Championships set for next Saturday


Third Northern Championships set for next Saturday

Saturday, January 18, 2020

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St Mary High School will be aiming to defend the boys' and girls' titles when the Northern Championships track and field meet gets under way at Grizzly's Plantation Grove in Priory, St Ann, next Saturday, January 25.

Their task will be made that much harder this year as an estimated 800 athletes from more than 30 schools are expected to compete, up from the 20 schools that engaged in competition in 2019.

Athletes will compete in the 200m, 400m, and 800m. There will also be the 5,000m for boys. There will be open competition in the shot put and athletes in classes one, two, three and four will match speed in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

Sponsored by Island Dairies and Grizzly's, the meet targets schools in the parishes of St Mary, St Ann and Trelawny. For the 2020 edition, the organisers have invited schools from Portland.

The winning school will take home $100,000 and a trophy, while the runner-up school will pocket $50,000. The top male and female schools will each take home $40,000 plus a trophy, while the school with the top male and female athlete will receive $20,000.

Meet organiser, Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCatty explains that it was launched to provide opportunities for high school athletes in that part of the country.

“The Northern Championships creates a terrific opportunity to increase our focus on breaking barriers and honing skills among our high schools in St Ann, St Mary and Trelawny, and we will be also inviting schools in Portland this year,” she said.

“Our motto is indicative of the impact we intend to have on young athletes in this region. We look forward to welcoming all the high schools from the region to this one-day championship, and anticipate the friendly and lively competition that it will inspire among our local teams. We also welcome members of the community and visitors from overseas to come be a part of this addition to our annual sporting calendar as we build this sports tourism offering by the sea.”

Coaches from schools in the north of the country have welcomed the introduction of the meet first held in 2018. Most of the secondary-level meets that make up the high school circuit are held in the south-eastern side of the island, which makes it challenging for many schools to expose their athletes to the quality competition they need to develop. The Northern Championships provides a much-needed platform for these schools.

“We are unable to participate in other meets and this gives us an opportunity to engage in competition against other schools in the region,” said Coach Bathlett Wray of Aabuthnott Gallimore High School.

“It also gives exposure to our student athletes who have the opportunity to showcase their talents, and it exposes them to real competition.”

The competition has grown since 2018 when just 11 schools participated.

Twenty schools took part in 2019 when St Mary High came away with the winners' trophy. Albert Town High finished second while Brown's Town High were third.

St Mary were the tops in both the male and female categories in 2019, while the top male and female athletes emerged from Ocho Rios High.

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