Commentary

Track and Field Roundup: 2016 Penn Relays and Drake Relays & More

Penn Relays – University of Pennsylvania, Franklin Field, USA April 28 – 30

April 30th, the final day of competition for both Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Drake Relays at Drake University’s Blue Oval in Des Moines, Iowa saw team of athletes battling not just each other for supremacy on the track but also the elements of nature on a grey cool, rainy breezy and day.

As high schools, colleges and universities from across the United States, Jamaica and the Caribbean engaged in fierce competition at both events, the spotlight shone on Jamaica’s track and field dominance. Here is how the races unfold.

The chilly Franklin Field venue Penn Relays: G.C. Foster College won the Men’s 4x200M in1:23.60. Jamaica’s boys’ teams swept the three Championships of Americas high school boys relays: Kingston College (KC) equaled Calabar High school 4×100 meters record at 39.63.  KC joined Camperdown High School (JAM) as the winningest high school male team in the event their eighth sprint relay title. Buoyed by a commanding second lead by 400m specialist Akeem Bloomfield, Jhevaughn Matherson ran a stylishly scorching third for KC that put away the race in record equaling time. Calabar with finished second in 39.89.

St Jago High School won their second 4x800m title, avenging their defeat at Gibson Relays in Jamaica by favorites St Elizabeth Technical High School. STETHS had to settle for second in 7:35.20.

Munro College (Andre Edwards, Romel Plummer, Rushane Edwards and Delano Williams) won the small schools’ consolation 4×100 race in 41.1, equaling the record held by STETHS since 2014.

In a major upset the fleet-footed Jamaica College 4x400m squad defeated favorites Calabar in a season’s best of 3.12.34. Old Hope Road School timed 3:15.06 at Champs.   This is JC’s fourth win in the mile relay at Franklin Field. Their previous titles were in 1992, 1993 and 2000. Both schools times were equally contrasting. Calabar, the winner of this event at Boys’ and Girls’ Championships in 3:09.77 timed out at 3:13.09. Even with anchor leg split of 46.58 their 400m boy wonder Christopher Taylor the Wunderkind at Calabar could not run then to victory.

The St Jago High School (Eric McKenzie (1:54.56), Joel Jean Pierre (1:53.96), Keenan Lawrence (1:53.02), and Leon Clarke (1:52.17)) team won their second 4x800m title in 7.33.71. Defending champions St Elizabeth Technical High School ran second in 7minutes:35.20 seconds.  Edwin Allen High’s Rayon Holmes won the 400 metres hurdles in 52.47 seconds while Kobe Jordan Rhooms of Cornwall College was third with 2.03m. Jamaica College’s Obrien Wasome won the triple jump in a record-breaking style with 16.91m, followed by Calabar’s Javier Lowe, 15.83m, and Jordan Scott of Campion College’s (Jam), 15.83m. Jamaica College’s long jumper Clayton Brown, in his high jump debut, won the event with a leap of 2.12 m.

Excelsior High School’s Shancie Love, broke her own national junior record in the discus event. She won with a throw of 54.72m and was named the Penn Relays High School girls’ athlete for Individual Events.

College men’s and boys high-school wins in the discus suggested good things for the Jamaica. Pan-Am Games winner & IAAF number 2 Fredrick Dacres, of the University of the West Indies who set a new record with a the world leading throw the discus at 65.19m to break the old mark of 65.04m.  Traves Smikle, also of UWI Mona, was second with 63.42m. The University of Technology’s Damar Whyte won the College men’s long jump with a leap of 7.18m while GC Foster’s Aubrey Allen placed second with 7.13m.

The Clarendon-based Edwin Allen High School accomplished two three-peats. Their girls’ 4×400 defending championship, despite retaining three members of last year’s winning team, came to the Relays as underdogs against St Elizabeth Technical High School. St Elizabeth, with the hot Junelle Bloomfield, were the favorites to win their first title in the event. Edwin Allen High School captured 4×400 and 4x100m for the third consecutive year at the prestigious relay carnival.

GC Foster College won, the marquee College Men’s Championships of Americas Invitational 4x100m. The team of Colin King, Chadric Hinds, Everton Clark and Brandon Tomlinson ran 39.31. The GC Foster team of Romario Willams, Colin King, Everton Clarke and Vashan Grant ran 1: 23.60 seconds to win the IC4A 4x200m

In the USA vs The World event, the Jamaican men’s 4x100m relay quartet (Jermaine Hamilton, Julian Forte, Rasheed Dwyer and Oshane Bailey) ran 38.70 to upset the USA; Jamaica’s first since 2011 and fourth overall in the 16-year history of the competition.

Jamaica women’s were second in three relays: the 4x100m (Gayon Evans, Elaine Thompson, Kerron Stewart and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) in 42.90, behind the USA Red (42.61), the 4x200m in 1:31.34, and 4×400 m (Christine Day, Tiffany James, Verone Chambers and Stephanie McPherson) in 3:29.00. The Americans won five of six relays contested.

Drake Relays- Drake University’, Blue Oval Des Moines, USA April 28 – 30

The rainy and cold Blue Oval venue Omar McLeod (JAM) destroys the field in Men’s 110M Hurdles in 13.08 at Drake Relays in Iowa. Hansle Parchment (JAM) came in 3rd at 13.42.

Grenada’s 23-year-old Olympic champion Kirani James signaled to the track world that his Olympic year Rio preparations are in a nick. He dropped a world-leading time of 44.08 to win the men’s 400 metres at the Drake Relays. He beat his American nemesis, former World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who was timed at 44.22. James’s fellow countryman Bralon Taplin claimed third in 44.92.

Steve Scott Invitational, California, USA April 30

Jamaica discus thrower Tara-sue Barnett, former Edwin Allen High school and G.C. Foster College student, hit the Olympic Qualifying distance (61.00m) with her PB 61.28 m, at the Steve Scott invitational in California.  The throw placed Barnet 17th in the world on the IAAF performance list. Former Jamaica national junior discus record holder Kellion Knibb, representing Florida State University, broke University of Washington alumna Aretha Hill’s 1996 record of 57.76 the Penn Relay college women’s championship record throwing 58.m

Qatar Sports Club at the Doha IAAF Diamond League May 6th

World Indoors 60m Hurles champion McLeod who created his as the first hurler to under 10 seconds in the 100m and sub-13 seconds won the 110m hurdle in a world-leading and season’s best 13.05 seconds. This was the 22-year-old’s McLeod first Diamond League. Fellow Jamaican Hansle Parchment, was second in a season’s best of 13.10.

Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, ran her season best at 10.91 seconds for third place in the women’s 100m.  American champion and World bronze medalist Tori Bowie won the event ahead of pre-race favorite Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in a new meet record and world-leading 10.80. Schippers clocked 10.83.

4 time Diamond League champion, 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer, was third in a season’s best 55.02

About the author

Stan Evan Smith

Senior Editor and North East Media Coordinator for Jamaicans.com