Hydel High School Head Coach Corey Bennett optimistic of continued success despite losing star athletes

By April 13, 2023
Bennett seen dancing with his athletes is confident his next stars could come from within his remaining squad. Bennett seen dancing with his athletes is confident his next stars could come from within his remaining squad. Collin Reid

With some at least two of his star athletes matriculating to college this fall, Hydel High School Head Coach Corey Bennett will be hard-pressed to fill those massive shoes when the new high school track season rolls around.

 However, he is optimistic he can find his next set of starlets from within remaining members of team that won their first girls title at the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships in Jamaica earlier this month.

Over the past few seasons, Hydel High School has seen a number of their top athletes matriculate to colleges in the United States or have gone pro. Athletes like Oneka Wilson, Shardia and Shadae Lawrence, Charokee Young and others have gone on to further their studies, testament to the school’s emphasis on finding balance between academics and athletics.

Meanwhile, others like Commonwealth Games silver medallist and NACAC Champion Shiann Salmon and Ashanti Moore have gone pro. Young subsequently chose to forego her college eligibility to sign a professional contract last summer.

In 2022, Hydel lost 2022 World U20 200m champion Brianna Lyston to Louisiana State University (LSU) on a scholarship and World U20 sprint hurdles champion and world record holder Kerrica Hill chose to go the professional route.

This coming fall, Alana Reid and Onieka McAnnuff will be the next to leave. Reid, who set a new championship and national junior record of 10.92 at Champs, will begin classes at the University of Oregon while McAnnuff, the talented 400m hurdler and team captain, will take up a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.

Losing them will undoubtedly have significant impact on Hydel’s ability to defend their historic Champs title but Bennett remains optimistic.

“When you have a world-record holder last year leaving prematurely and a record holder at Champs – Brianna and Kerrica leaving – it does set you back and that’s why we take the pressure of winning off the team,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of who else can we put out there that can excel. I thought we had some good performances (at Champs). I want to highlight Jody-Ann Daley, who won the 400m and the hurdles even when at one point she didn’t want to do the hurdles and I said ‘no, come on, you can do it’,” Bennett said.

“And Shemonique Hazle in the 200 when nobody gave her a chance, we believed. We are a small team about 34-members strong and we believe that no matter what, each one can go out there and give of their best and we delivered.

“Let’s hope that next year the girls will come inspired to give of themselves, train hard to be the best versions of themselves and with trust in God with the process.”

Bennett’s comments are in line with his over-arching philosophy of how to build strong teams with limited resources and personnel at Hydel. He revealed that with a four-member team in 2010, Hydel’s first year at Champs, they finished 11th.

 For him, the focus has always been on quality than quantity.

“I am still going to build individuals. If I can make the individuals better, then ultimately the team will be better. I am not going to just go and throw persons into events just to win a championship. It is about being very individualistic and getting the best out of persons,” he said.

“Alliah Baker is our top high jumper. She high-jumped in Class IV and got a medal but she is a runner. We want to focus on where we think she will be better so we are not going to seek points, points will seek us. We want to maintain excellence in our girls.”

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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