Always a loud signal to the Jamaican community overseas that the high school track season is officially on in the island, the Gibson Relays is a strong indicator of where high school teams stand going into Champs, the national boys and girls athletics championships, especially in the relays that carry the premium points that could make or break a team’s chance of winning when the point standing is close with one or two events remaining.
This year’s Gibson Relays featured some scintillating runs that left the crowd in awe and anticipation of Champs. Let’s begin with the race of the day: the high school boys’ 4x400m in which the Munro College team, spearheaded by Turks and Caicos’ 2012 World Junior 200m champion Delano Williams did what many thought was impossible. Anchoring the team, Williams collected the baton some 45 meters behind fastest qualifiers Manchester High and immediately went to work. Focusing on the leading target, Williams pressed the gas with all he had to catch Manchester at the 300m mark. He then went by his target with ease and drove to the finish line in a reported sub-45 seconds split.
Williams, a sixth former business student, has once again reminded us that he is gritty and formidable. All eyes will be on Williams who is favored to take the sprint double (100m and 200m) when he takes to the track at Champs, and then a month later at the Penn Relays, where he will again clash with his Jamaican rivals and the always present Long Beach Poly.
Another highlight at the Relays featured 2011 World Youth 100m champion Odail Todd of Green Island High. For the second time in as many weeks, Todd faced off against Williams, who had defeated him in the 100m at the Western Relays. Todd collected the baton third behind his counterparts representing Wolmer’s and Kingston College and floated by the city schools to win by a huge margin in the 4x100m. Todd was also the catalyst in the 4x200m when he ran a blistering second leg to put his team ahead and win.
Todd is built with pure power. And come Champs time, it will be a battle between his sheer speed and force vs. the tenacity and speed of the more wiry Williams, who looks lightweight in comparison.
Steele Holds off Blake
Among the big boys, Edino Steele of Racers Track Club showed that he would not be intimidated by teammate Yohan Blake as both ran for separate 4x400m teams from the same club. Collecting the baton ahead of Blake, Steele took off in a hurry, and well clear of Blake. But as Blake closed, Steele held his form and composure to hold off the grimacing Olympic double sprint medalist. After crossing the finish line, Steele dropped to the track to do pushups, much to the amusement of the fans.
Jazeel Murphy, of whom much has been expected throughout the years, but who has been consistently dogged by injuries and beaten in the 100m at Champs by Williams, looked good on the backstretch where he has stepped up to ran for Racers Lions against the big boys in the Clubs and Institutions 4x400m. Collecting the baton from Mario Forsythe, Murphy held his own and passed to Blake, who handed off to Kemar Bailey-Cole for the win in 38.50 seconds.
Vere Technical’s Shericka Jackson, who did not deliver as expected in the latter part of last season as a result of injury, returned to form and in her final Gibson run as a schoolgirl. Jackson teamed up with Yanique McNeil, Olivia James and Andrenette Knight to clock 3:33.34, shattering the previous mark of 3:35.68 in the girls 4x400m set by Holmwood Technical in 2006.
There were funny moments, too, when even the youngsters weren’t shy about displaying how highly competitive they can be. In the Boys Under-12 4x100m, Naggo Head Primary bungled the final exchange when the anchor stepped back and bumped into his incoming to take the baton. Clearly a speedster, he managed to overtake three runners ahead of him in leading his team to victory with a time of 52.29 seconds.
Upon realizing that he had passed everyone, he looked across to his left and pointed to second place Ewarton anchor before crossing the line. As funny as his action was to the crowd, it may be a good idea for his coach to show him a replay of what happened to Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk when he showboated in the final of the 200m at the 2011 Carifta Games in Jamaica.