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TrackLife International

Jamaican Girls Brought Heat on Cold Day at Penn Relays


On the opening day of the running of the 121st April Penn Relays carnival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the American “City of Brotherly Love”, the temperature reached a high of only 52ºF (11.11ºC), the Jamaican High School provided much heat on the track.


Holmwood Tech 4×8 winning team.

Even the seemingly perennial discussion on how climate affects athletes, especially the Jamaicans, got heated as some argued that only their times would be affected, but their dominance would remain intact. However, as the first set of races (the 4x800m relays) got underway with the temperature hovering in the middle-to-upper 40ºF (sub-10ºC), it appeared that those of the view that the Jamaican teams might not even make it to the finals were proving to be prophetic when favorites such as Edwin Allen failed to qualify. To be more specific, only two Jamaican schools (Holmwood Technical and Vere Technical) made it to the Championship of America finals with Holmwood taking the top spot in 9mins, 01.31secs. Western Branch of Virginia followed in 9:06.71secs and Vere, third in 9:13.06.

Penn Relays fans who attend the carnival only on the final day are really missing the opportunity to see high school female athletes showcase their talent, especially the Jamaicans. The general theme of the athletes going into these races seems to be one of revenge. For the Jamaicans, it’s a continuation of their rivalry from their Championships, which ended some two weeks earlier. The same is true for the American athletes who had their Indoor Nationals (Championships) also a few weeks earlier as well.
Jamaica’s high school girls champions Edwin Allen showed why they are worthy of that crown by claiming the Championship of America (COA) high school girls 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

In the 4x100m COA, four Jamaican schools (St. Jago, Holmwood Technical, Wolmer’s Girls and Edwin Allen) made it to the eight-team final, the other four teams were Long Beach Poly of California, Bullis High School and Riverdale Baptist from Maryland, and St. Augustine High from the Bahamas. Edwin Allen’s squad of Aalliyah Hopkins, Patrice Moody, Saqukine Cameron and Shellece Clark (in photo above) proved a long-held view in the track and field world that crisp baton passes will beat speed majority of times in the sprint relays.


St. Jago’s 4x100m squad.

The St. Jago quartet of Kimone Show, Peter-Gay Williams, Shanice Reid and Natalliah Whyte in that race definitely had the speed and was leading up to the third exchange but fumbled their baton pass, and Clark had the opening she needed and capitalized like a true champion. The results are Edwin Allen (45.40secs), St. Jago (45.85), Holmwood (45.94), Wolmer’s Girls (46.63), and Long Beach Poly, the top American School, in fifth position in 46.66.

In the 4x400m COA, the power, talent, experience and tenacity of Cameron (53.88 secs), Edwin Allen’s senior and anchor in that event, was just too much for the other teams. She, along with Davia Smith (56.3), Janiel Moore (55.1) and Shannon Kalawan (55.10) in running order, gave Edwin Allen the victory in 3:40.41 and claim on the trophy for the second straight year.

Vere Tech (3:42.18) was second, Nansemond River High (3:43.03) of Suffolk, Virginia was the top American School, while Holmwood (3:43.53) and St. Jago (3:43.86) were the other two Jamaican finalists. Western Branch (3:45.21) Virginia, North Prep (3:52.08), and Columbia (3:53.33) of Teaneck, New Jersey rounded out the field.

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