Corey Bennett has been appointed the head track and field coach at Calabar High School, the school announced Wednesday.

Bennett replaces Michael Clarke, whose tenure at the Red Hills Road high school, ended with his resignation in March. Clarke led Calabar High to nine of their 28 titles at the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Championships.

Bennett was head coach at Hydel High School, transforming them into a perennial contender challenging Edwin Allen’s dominance of the championships over the last decade. He was also an assistant coach at St Jago High School and Wolmer’s Boys.

Bennett has big shoes to fill at Calabar, the second most successful high school at Boys Champs if he is to equal or surpass Clarke’s legacy.

According to a statement released by Calabar on Wednesday, the new head coach will be responsible for “leading and managing the track and field programme and for coaching the team within the established school guidelines.”

The statement continued: “It is expected that he will build on the well-established foundation laid by his predecessors to hone and execute, along with his team, a competitive programme that is marked by exemplary sportsmanship, athletic excellence and unquestioned integrity while safeguarding the educational welfare of the student-athletes, all within the framework of  the school’s mission.”

In recent years, Bennett has been instrumental in the development of some of jamaica's most outstanding junior athletes including NCAA 400m silver medallist Charokee Young, Carifta 2022 200m champion Brianna Lyston, Kerrica Hill and Alana Reid.

Bennett was recently the head coach of Jamaica's team for the 49th edition of the Carifta Games held in Kingston in April.

Jamaica won a record 92 medals at the championships including 45 gold medals.

 

 

Kingston College superstar jumper Jaydon Hibbert added to his Class I long jump title after smashing the triple jump record on the way to his second gold medal on Day 4 of the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston on Friday.

Hibbert uncorked a personal best and world junior leading mark of 16.66m to win gold ahead of the Jamaica College pair of Rajaun Ricketts (15.06m) and Stafon Roach (14.92m).

The 2021 silver medalist at the World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, erased former O'Brien Wasome’s Class I record of 16.39 done in 2016.

On the track, Edwin Allen, St. Catherine High, Dinthill Technical, Alphansus Davis High, Holmwood Technical, The Queen’s School, Maggotty High and Excelsior all advanced to the final of the Girls 1600m Sprint Medley.

STETHS, Jamaica College, Kingston College, Calabar, Vere Technical, William Knibb, Excelsior and Petersfield advanced to the Boys 1600m Sprint Medley final.

Holmwood Technical, Hydel, Excelsior, St. Jago, Edwin Allen, St. Mary High, St. Catherine High and Manchester High will contest the final of the Girls 4x400m Relay.

Jamaica College, Calabar, St. Jago, Edwin Allen, Kingston College, Excelsior, STETHS and Manchester High all advanced to the final of the Boys 4x400m Relay.

 

Class I Girls 100m silver medallist Briana Lyston was in spectacular form to win her 200m semi-final on Friday’s fourth day of the 2022 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships at the National Stadium.

Lyston ran an easy 23.04 to qualify fastest for Saturday's final ahead of Vere Technical’s Kaylia Kelly (23.98) and St. Jago’s Shenese Walker (24.26).

Hydel’s 100m silver medalist Alana Reid was fastest in qualifying to the Class II final in 23.85. She was followed by Immaculate Conception’s Mickaila Haisley (23.94) and Wolmer’s Girls’ Mickayla Gardener (24.12).

The qualifiers for the Class III final were led by Holmwood Technical’s Abrina Wright (24.33), Edwin Allen’s 100m champion Theianna-Lee Terrelonge (24.99) and Lacovia’s 400m champion Sabrina Dockery (24.67).

Wolmer’s Girls 100m gold medalist Natrece East was the fastest qualifier to the Class IV final ahead of Hydel’s Sashana Johnson (25.62) and Excelsior’s Janelia Williams (25.78).

Edwin Allen’s Bryan Levell continued his quest for the sprint double by running 21.14 to lead all qualifiers to the Class I Boys 200m final. St. Jago’s Gregory Prince, who ran a personal best 45.99 to win the 400m gold medal on Thursday, was second fastest in the semis with 21.34 while St. Catherine’s Sandrey Davison was third fastest with 21.44.

Class II was led by Jamaica College’s 100m champion Mark Anthony Miller (22.10), Steer Town’s Omarion Barrett (22.17) and Kingston College’s 400m champion Marcinho Rose (22.47).

Qualifiers for the Boys Class III final were led by Herbert Morrison’s 100m champion Tavaine Stewart (23.54), KC’s 400m finalist Shavaughn Brown (23.58) and Calabar’s 100m silver medalist Nickecoy Bramwell (24.00).

JC’s Michael-Andre Edwards secured nine big points for his school with a big personal best of 6.55m to win the Class III Boys Long Jump ahead of KC’s Courtney Kinglock (6.18m) and St. Jago’s Deandre Jennings (5.94m).

JC’s Javon Bowen led all qualifiers into the final of the Class I High Jump with a clearance of 2.00m. His teammate Uroy Ryan, who already has a silver medal this year in the Long Jump, will join him in the final after clearing 1.90m in qualifying.

The Kingston College pair of Blaine Byam and Verrol Sam both cleared 1.95m to also advance to the final scheduled for Saturday evening.

Excelsior’s Shelley-Ann Taylor leapt out to 5.87m to lead all qualifiers for Saturday’s Class III Girls Long Jump final.

Hydel’s 100m bronze medalist Shemonique Hazle had the second longest jump in qualifying with 5.56m while her teammate Tressanne Plummer had the third with 5.43m.

 

 

 

Wolmer’s Girls secured gold and silver medals in the Class III High Jump at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships early on Thursday.

The stage has been set for the 400m finals to close out day three of the 2022 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships.

In the Class I Boys event, the main contenders will be Kingston College’s Shaemar Uter, St. Jago’s Gregory Prince and Edwin Allen’s Delano Kennedy.

Prince, who won the event at Central Champs last month, was the fastest qualifier to the final with 46.60. Kennedy, who ran 46.97 to win at last month’s Carifta Trials, ran a personal best 46.66 to finish second behind Prince in his semi-final. Uter, who represented Jamaica at the World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, last year, won his semi-final comfortably in 47.10.

Kingston College is expected to score big in the Class II 400m with Marcinho Rose looking like the favorite for gold. Rose ran an easy 49.05 in his semi-final to be the fastest qualifier.

His teammate Tahj-Marques White only ran 50.74 for third in his semi-final but is expected to feature prominently in the final as he entered the championships with the fastest time of any Class II boy this year with 48.35 which he ran at a Corporate Area Development meet last month. He also ran 48.36 to win the Under-17 Boys 400m at the Carifta Trials ahead of Rose.

Also expected to be in the mix is Central Champs champion Antonio Powell of Edwin Allen who qualified second fastest with 49.30.

Jamaica College’s Samuel Creary (50.85), Excelsior’s Demarco Bennett (50.83) and Manchester’s Troydian Flemmings (50.96) are expected to battle it out for the Class III title.

The Girls Class I event is expected to be a hot contest between Clarendon College’s Class II champion from 2021, Dejanea Oakley, who qualified fastest with 52.77, St. Jago’s Safhia Hinds (53.65) and Vere Technical’s Kaylia Kelly (53.86).

Ferncourt’s Abigail Campbell is a big favorite to add to her Class III title from 2021 in the Class II final after she ran 53.94 to qualify fastest for the final, the only girl to go below 54 seconds. Her main challengers are expected to be Hydel’s Alliah Baker (54.48) and Lacovia’s Rasheika Byfield (54.61).

Lacovia’s Carifta Trials Under-17 400m champion Sabrina Dockery (55.59) and the Holmwood Technical duo of Abriana Wright (56.10) and Rosalee Gallimore (55.84) are expected to battle it out in Class III.

The stars were on show on the first day of the 2022 ISSA Boys and Girls Championships at the National Stadium on Tuesday.

The marquee event, the 100m, saw all the big names safely make it through to the semi-finals which are scheduled to start at 3:30pm on Wednesday.

In the Class I Boys event, the Kingston College pair of Bouwahjgie Nkrumie (10.53) and Jeevan Newbie (10.55) were the fastest qualifiers to the semi-finals.

Edwin Allen’s Bryan Levell (10.73), St. Catherine’s Sandrey Davison (10.73) and Herbert Morrison’s Carifta Trials Under-20 100m champion DeAndre Daley (11.00) all got through their heats safely as well.

In Class II, Spot Valley’s Romario Hines (10.90), KC’s Aaron Thomas (10.90), Steer Town’s Omarion Barrett (10.93) and St. Jago’s Kawayne Kelly (11.01) were the fastest men in the heats. The JC pair of Mark Anthony Miller (11.53) and Dontae Watson (11.21) as well as KC’s Marvin Patterson (11.04) all safely got through to the semis.

Johan-Ramaldo Smythe of Muschett High (11.47) and Nickecoy Bramwell of Calabar (11.52) were the fastest in the Class III heats.

On the Girls side, Hydel’s Briana Lyston (12.01), Edwin Allen’s Tina Clayton (12.03) and her sister Tia Clayton (12.24) all progressed safely to the semi-finals in Class I but it was Petersfield’s Alexis James who qualified fastest with an impressive 11.72.

The Hydel pair of Alana Reid (12.04) and Kerrica Hill (12.31) got through comfortable in Class II while Edwin Allen’s Theianna Lee-Terrelonge (12.25) and Holmwood’s Abrina Wright (12.41) were the fastest to progress in Class III.

In Class IV, Natrece East of Wolmer’s (12.61) and Kimberly Wright of Immaculate (12.91) were the fastest qualifiers while pre-meet favourite Kedoya Lindo of Immaculate also safely got through with a 13.01 clocking.

 

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honorable Olivia Grange, has welcomed the return to ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls Championships with spectators.

“In 2021, even though CHAMPS was staged, it was done behind closed doors.  This resulted in losses of $70,000,000.00.  For this year, ISSA projects that their earnings will return to pre-COVID figures despite the significant increase in inflation,” said Minister Grange in a statement issued on Monday.

She also explained how Jamaica derives significant economic benefit from what is the premier secondary school athletic championship in the world.  

“Because of the long and distinguished legacy of CHAMPS, there is a consistent increase in visitor arrival to Jamaica during the period leading up to the mega event.  While the support from high school alumni and Jamaicans in the diaspora who invest in and return to Jamaica for Champs is unquantified at this time, there is a marked stimulation in the economy which can be attributed to CHAMPS,” said Minister Grange.

“The city of Kingston, for example, benefits from an increase in occupancy of hotels, guesthouses, AIR BnB type facilities and private homes.  This is also reflected in the local retail and transportation sectors. Through CHAMPS, there is both a direct and indirect co-relation to educational and employment opportunities. We also see a lot of merchandising from the schools; there’s the broadcasting revenue, there are stage, light and sound, there are opportunities for the small peanut vendors as well,” she added.

The 2022 edition of Champs gets underway Tuesday and runs until April 9 at the National stadium.

“Welcome back CHAMPS; welcome back spectators. Let the Games begin,” said Minister Grange.

 

ISSA Boys and Girls Championships pundit Hubert Lawrence believes that Kingston College and Edwin Allen are favourites to win the Boys and Girls titles, respectively, as the competition get underway at the National Stadium on Tuesday.

“It looks to me as if the boys' side could be quite close. Both KC, the 2019 champions, and JC, the 2021 champions, are quite strong,” Lawrence said.

“Early in the season, it looked as if JC was not as significantly strong as KC in Class III, but each week I saw the JC Class III look better and better and it may be that on balance now, the two teams are quite strong. I don’t think there’s a walkover even though, in general, KC might look a little bit ahead,” he added.

Lawrence also expressed where the main strengths of both teams are.

“Where KC is brilliantly strong is in hurdles across the classes while JC is brilliantly strong in the 800, 1500 area across all the classes. It may be that those strengths and balances cancel out and in the 800s and 1500s, there is an extra race than the hurdles because there is no Class III 400m Hurdles but there’s Class III 800m and 1500m,” he said.

On the Girls' side, Lawrence believes that despite the fact that Hydel looked good all season, Edwin Allen is still the team to beat.

“Girls Champs will be quite competitive as well. Edwin Allen is coming on every week. They’ve had a late start to training and rain in the hills in Frankfield but they look to be coming on each week and I would have to say they’re the favourites to defend their title,” he said.

“Who’s coming at them? Hydel. One of the remarkable things about coach Cory Bennett is his ability to hide a great side in plain view. So, you might go and score them 10 points but they’re really worth 17. St. Jago is also like that this year but coach Michael Dyke at Edwin Allen is a master at getting his teams to peak at the right time so that is up in the air but I say Edwin Allen would go in feeling in a stronger position than KC on the Boys' side,” he added.

Switching gears from teams to individuals, who, apart from the obvious candidates, does Lawrence have his eyes on to do big things at Champs?

“I’d go Alexis James from Petersfield in the Girls Class I sprint hurdles. Because Class I has a glittering 100m and 200m compliment of athletes like the Clayton twins and Briana Lyston, not many people are looking at the sprint hurdles," he said.

"James won at Carifta trials and in that race too, Oneika Wilson of Hydel got to the World Junior final but couldn’t run because of COVID protocols. Both of them are not far away from the Champs record of 13.12 so I think that’s an event we have to look at. We’re very sprint focused but I think the sprint hurdles with Megan Tapper getting the bronze in Tokyo, with us having two world champions in that event in Danielle Williams and Brigitte Foster-Hylton, that’s an event now at the Class I level that might just move forward,” he said.

“On the Boys' side, one athlete that we might not watch too much because we’re sort of track-focused is Christopher Young of Edwin Allen, former Class II discus champion. He’s been fantastic in the shot put, discus and javelin. I think his teammate, Trevor Gunzel, is just as good as he is in the shot as well as World Under-20 finalist Kobe Lawrence of Calabar so he won’t have it easy,” he said.

 

 

Tuesday, April 5 will mark the start of the 112th edition of one of the most anticipated high school athletics showcases in the world, the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships.

During the championships that will conclude on Saturday, April 9, established stars like Hydel’s Briana Lyston, Edwin Allen’s Clayton twins and Brian Levell are all expected to dominate but who are some under-the-radar competitors to keep an eye out for?

“There are so many talented athletes that aren’t from the top schools,” said Champs pundit Oliver “Elmo” Harris.

Among them is Lacovia High’s Sabrina Dockery. “She won the Girls Under-17 200m at the CARIFTA Trials and I expect her to do well in the Class III event at champs,” he said.

Ferncourt High School’s Abigail Campbell is another less-heralded athlete, who could shine during the championships.

“She won the 200m in Class III last year and I think she’ll do well in Class II this year,” Harris predicts.

He also expects big things from Hydel’s Class II sprinter/hurdler Kerrica Hill.

“She ran the third leg on Jamaica’s World Junior Record 4x100m team last year,” he said.

“I’m also looking forward to the Immaculate (High) sprinters. At the Corporate Area Championships, they won the 100m in all classes. The clash to look out for is in Class IV between Kedoya Lindo and Natrece East of Wolmer’s Girls in the 100m,” he added.

On the boy's side, Harriss sees a big clash coming in the Class I 400m Hurdles.

“I think the big clash on the boys' side will be between KC’s Rayon Campbell and Camperdown’s Roshawn Clarke in the Class I 400m Hurdles,” he said.

At the recent Carifta Trials, Campbell ran what was then a world-leading 49.52 to Clarke's 49.85. Harris expects more of the same at Champs.

The veteran pundit also believes the Class II sprints will thrill the thousands expected to turn out.

"The Class II sprints, as far as I'm concerned, will be more fascinating. Early in the season, Mark Miller from Jamaica College was considered a shoo-in for the 100 and 200m. That's no longer the case. He could win and he has the fastest time coming in but there's Shaquane Gordon of Calabar, Gary Card from Wolmer's and Omarion Barrett from Steer Town. That race will be fascinating," he said.

However, with all that said, who does Harris believe will win the respective titles at Champs 2022?

“I think KC will win Boys champs ahead of JC and Calabar. On the Girls' side, Edwin Allen will win, Hydel second and St. Jago third,” Harris said.

 

 

 

Jamaica’s Sports Minister the Hon. Olivia Grange has announced that as part of the celebrations for Jamaica 60th Independence Anniversary, the government will be providing scholarships for 60 athletes.

“We will be awarding sixty scholarships to 60 athletes. ‘Sixty for 60’. Details will be announced at a later date,” she said while speaking at the official launch of the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships on Tuesday.

“In 2020, after the decision was made to cancel CHAMPS, there was major disappointment by athletes, parents, coaches, schools, alumni and every sport-loving Jamaican.  Many were uncertain about last year’s staging of Champs but again this team of school principals organized themselves within the very strict protocols outlined and produced a spectacular show with Jamaica College and Edwin Allen High School winning the titles,” added Grange while praising ISSA for continuing to set a very high standard in terms of sports organization and management and each year.

The Sports Minister also highlighted the importance of CHAMPS. 

“The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships has become a special calendar event not only for Jamaicans but for other sport enthusiasts, administrators, athletes, school groups and media houses and talent scouts all over the world. This speaks to the development of the Championships and indicates the tremendous growth in our high school programmes, coached primarily by our home-grown coaches.  The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships has been marked as the foundation of Jamaica’s athletic prowess and with the improvements in the field events, we are assured that the future of track and field in Jamaica is secure,” she said.

“There is another reason why Champs this year is special.  Just one week after Champs, Jamaica will be hosting CARIFTA.  Many of the athletes from Champs are expected to be on show again at CARIFTA, where the President of World Athletics Lord Sebastian Coe has confirmed his attendance,” she added.

Grange went on to recognize long-time sponsors of CHAMPS, GraceKennedy, and then offer a final word of encouragement to the athletes who will be competing in the 2022 edition.

“I am proud to acknowledge GraceKennedy who has been title sponsors of the Boys and Girls Championships since 2007 and will continue until 2025.  Even with the uncertainties of the pandemic, they have been unwavering in their support. To all the other sponsors thank you, you continue to exhibit goodwill and I want to assure you that no investment in our youth is wasted,” she said.

“Whether you become a professional sportsman or woman, or continue to compete for the love of the sport, or use your talent as a bargaining tool to advance your educational aspirations, or never participate in another track and field event; the lessons you learn in training and in competition must serve you through life,” Grange added.

 

 

 

An unspecified number of fully vaccinated supporters will be allowed to enter the Boy’s and Girl’s Championships this year, meet organisers the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) have confirmed.

In addition, the organization is also expected to add a number of school sports back to its yearly calendar after an extended absence for some due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Over the next two weeks, competitions will begin for U-19 Girls Netball, U-19 Boys Basketball, U-19 Cricket as well as U-16 Boys Football,” a release from ISSA said.

The release went on to add that other sports will be added to the calendar later in the year.

“Competitions in Volleyball, Table Tennis, Hockey, and Girls Football will also be staged later during the Easter Term and are to be completed by April 30, 2022,” it added.

In addition to spectators, ISSA also requires that all athletes taking part in its competitions this season be fully vaccinated.

 

Jamaica College (JC) captured the ISSA Grace/Kennedy boy’s champs title, while Edwin Allen reclaimed the girls crown, as the competition came to close at the National Stadium on Saturday.

In the end, JC finished with 328.5 points, comfortably clear of second-place Kingston College (KC) who finished with 313.  It was KC who began the fifth and final day in front but, predictably JC took the lead by midday and in the end sealed the title with two events to spare.

Calabar claimed third spot with 241.5, St Elizabeth Technical was next on 181, while St Jago closed out the top 5 with 129.

For the girls, Edwin Allen wrapped up a performance in which they rarely trailed.  The eventual champions finished on 340 points, well clear of second-place St Jago who ended on 309.5, third place went to Hydel High on 301, Holmwood was next with 160.5 and Vere Technical 5th with 160.5.

The team sped to a new record in the Class 2 4x100m.  Anchored by Tiana Clayton, the team recorded a time of 44.81. Clayton was securing her third gold of Champs 2021. The team beat the old mark of 44.88.

Aliyah Clarke, Tia Clayton, who false-started in the 100m, and Serena Cole were the other team members.

St. Jago won both boys’ and girls’ Class I 4x100m finals.

 

 

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

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