Champs 2020: KC Dethrones JC, Edwin Allen Retains Girls Title

The 111-year-old ISSA Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, widely known as Champs, ended last Saturday evening (April 9) in its usual blaze of glory. Defending girls champions Edwin Allen retained their title while Kingston College (KC), last year’s runners up, dethroned defending champions and archrivals Jamaica College (JC) for the boys title.

Both teams streaked home to victory in impressive style despite not winning the signature mile relays that traditional close the curtain on five days of intense battle for bragging rights.

Edwin Allen girls amassed 352 points and KC, 372. Rounding out the top five girls team finishers of the championships were Hydel, 295; St. Jago, 249; Holmwood, 174; and Excelsior, 107. JC, 300.33; Calabar, 170; St. Jago, 147; and Edwin Allen, 95 completed the boys top five places.

The high schoolers had been competing with a purpose since the start of Champs on April 5, but as points piled up final after final, the competition grew more intense, the rivalry became fiercer and set the young athletes on fire going into the final day of competition.

But Champs 2022 was less about the KC-JC and Edwin Allen-Hydel competition for points and coveted trophies and more about outstanding individual and team performances by student athletes as young as 12 years old and as old as 19.While many of them left all they had on the track and on the field, I will mention only a few whose stunning show of talent, tenacity, comradeship, and focus stays with me.

Rewind to Wednesday evening; Hydel High’s 17-yr-old Briana Lyston, who advanced to the Class 1 girls 100m final with the fastest time and personal best (pb) of 11.14secs, not only lost her form in the race but also lost the race to Edwin Allen’s World Athletics Under-20 defending champion Tina Clayton, 17. An anticipated sub-11 clocking from Clayton and Lyston, for the first time, didn’t materialize, maybe as a result of the wind that became negative 2.8m/s as the young ladies lined up to run. Clayton, who has a 2021 pb of 11.09secs, clocked only 11.23 while Lyston registered 11.26. Tina’s twin sister, Tia, was third in 11.47.

Come Friday, the 8th, Lyston never got the opportunity to turn the tide on Clayton, but without any threat from any other competitor, she destroyed the 200m field with a 22.53 despite running into a 2.2 headwind. According to the wind correction calculator, zero wind would have placed Lyston at 22.28secs, and the maximum legal 2.0 m/s wind would have lowered the time even more to 22.14secs.

Her new pb broke Simone Facey’s 18-yr-old Champs 200m record and became a world under-18 best. After the girls’ sprint relay final in which Lyston led off her team, she returned to anchor the penultimate event of the night, the girls open 4x400m relay and clocked a sizzling 50.80 after collecting the baton approximately 20 meters behind in third place and winning by 30 meters. Some fans say her consistency of speed over 400m recalls American Olympian Allyson Felix, the quarter-miler; she reminds me of her compatriot Merlene Ottey, the 200m specialist.

Lyston’s Class Two teammate Kerrica Hill was a force over the 100m hurdles and the flat 100m; she equaled the world record for under-18 girls 100m hurdles and then lowered it 12.71. On the second day of Champs, Hill took the Class Two girls 100m final in 11.16secs (1.2 m/s), which equaled the meet record.

Then there is Edwin Allen male sprinter Brian Levell, who created history for his school by winning the Class One sprint double. He’s the first Edwin Allen boy to win the 100m at Champs. Levell reached the men’s 100m final at Jamaica’s 2021 senior trials that pick the Tokyo Olympic team.

Edwin Allen Class One girls sprint relay team ran a world high school record in 43.28.

KC’s Jason Hibbert took the Class Two triple jump with a record; he also won the long jump competition Thursday with 7.87m.

KC’s super-talented Aaron McKenzie, jumped 2.11m to break the Class Two high jump record of 2.10m held by Christoffe Bryan of Wolmer’s Boys school since 2012. That high jump competition made me feel as if I were watching a global contest.

The following are some outstanding performances that does not exhaust the list:

Jamaica College’s (JC) J’Voughnn Blake equaled the 800m record in Class One with 1min, 48.58secs.

Camperdown High’s Roshawn Clarke erased the Class One 400m hurdles previous best time.

KC’s Jaydon Hibbert in the Class One triple jump with a record 16.66m and the long jump with 7.87. Hibbert leads the World on the IAAF Under-20 list of jumpers.

Clarendon College’s Dajanae Oakley impressive 51.81secs that puts her on top of the world, as well as Hydel’s Oneika McAnnuf who finished second to Oakley in 52.88secs and is at number three in the world.

St. Jago High School’s Gregory Prince, winner of the Class One 400 in 45.99, who also helped to get valuable points for his school in the relays.

Now we anticipate big performances from them and others at the regional Carifta Games in Jamaica next week. See complete results.

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