Tuesday 19 March, 2019

Digicel Grand Prix Finale takes spotlight on Saturday

The 2019 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship ends on Saturday with the GC Foster Classics at GC Foster College in Spanish Town.

The Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship, in its fifth year, is a five-series development meet for high schools, which comprises four regional meets and a Grand Finale - the GC Foster Classics.

The GC Foster Classics is scheduled to start at 8:00 am with the Digicel Grand Prix events taking place from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

The first Grand Prix event is the Girls' 400m Hurdles Open final. The Grand Prix will end with the  Boys' 4x400m Relay Open final.

The 200 metres are scheduled to begin at 6:25 pm with the 100 metres at 7:05 pm.

There are 10 Digicel Grand Prix events. Those events are the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, long jump, high jump, discus, 4x400m relay, medley relay and the 400m hurdles.

To be eligible for the Grand Prix Finale athletes had to compete at the four regional meets where they were placed in two age categories. For the males (Class 1 athletes competed in one age category, while Class 2 and Class 3 athletes completed in the other age category) and for females (Class 1 and 2 competed in one age category and Class 3 and 4 in the other age category).

This means that only the fastest time in a Grand Prix event in each age category at each of the four regional meets automatically qualified for the Grand Finale.  The four automatic winners in each of the 10 Digicel Grand Prix event from the four regional meets will be joined by the next four best to compete in the Grand Prix Finale.

Based on what transpired at the four regional meets, Edwin Allen High, which have won the Digicel Grand Prix girls’ title every year, and Kingston College (KC) will enter the Grand Finale as favourites.

KC have dominated the two biggest meets ahead of the Digicel Grand Prix Finale.

The North Street-based school ruled supreme at the 43rd staging of the Puma Gibson McCook Relays at the National Stadium on February 23 by winning six of the 11 relays.

The other five relays were won by five different schools – Calabar High, Wolmer’s Boys, St Jago High, Jamaica College (JC) and Enid Bennett High.

KC returned a week ago to easily won the boys’ title at the Corporate Area Championship, the fourth and final regional meet of the Digicel Grand Prix Series, at the National Stadium.

Despite KC dominating Gibson Relays and the Digicel Corporate Area Championship, the boys' section of the GC Foster Classics is expected to be hot and competitive.

Among the events, which will draw keen interest are the Boys' Class 1 400m hurdles where KC's Romel Plummer is expected to continue his hot form following two sub-53 seconds and a sub-52 last week at the Corporate Area Championship when he clocked a meet record 51.08;  the Boys' Class 1 100m, which will see JC's Michali Everett and Calabar's top man Michael Stephens facing off again after Everett prevailed last week at the Corporate Area Championship and the Boys' Class 1 800m, which features Calabar's Kimar Farquharson, JC's Dugion Blackman, Enid Bennett High's Tyrice Taylor and Tyrese Reid of Spot Valley High.

Farquharson clocked a meet record 1:49.79 at the Corporate Area Championship to beat Blackman (1:50.49)

The Boys' Class 2 100m is also expected to be hot with the KC pair of Terrique Stennett and Bouwahjgie Nkrumie facing off St Jago's Vashuan Vascianne and JC's Deondre Mcintosh

Stennett clocked 10.83 seconds to win at last week's Corporate Area Championships, with McIntosh (10.94) denying KC a 1-2 finish.

The Boys' Class 1 long jump will also be interesting as KC's star athlete Wayne Pinnock will be looking to get a legal eight-metre jump after soaring over the mark twice already but those efforts were helped by winds over the legal limit.

Just last week, Pinnock soared over eight-metre to record 8.10m but the tailwind of 2.7mps denied him the meet record at the Corporate Area Championship. 

Edwin Allen High just managed to come out on top among the girls at Gibson Relays but showed big improvements when retaining their crown at Central Championships, the second regional meet of Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship, at G C Foster College.

Although showing improvements at Central Championships, Edwin Allen are expected to have a very close battle with Hydel High after only 20.50 points separated them on that occasion.

Edwin Allen will be led by outstanding sprinters Tia Clayton and Kevona Davis, who both accounted for meet records at Central Champs.

Tia Clayton broke the 100m meet records twice. She won the Girls’ Class 3 100m final in 11.37 seconds to shatter the record of 11.70 seconds she set in the preliminary round when breaking St Jago’s Brianna Lyston 2018 time of 11.78.

Davis proved a cut above the field at Central Championship, winning the Girls’ Class 2 200m in 23.24 seconds to erase the previous record of 23.61 seconds she set in 2018. She will line up against St Jago's Joanne Reid, Hydel High's Ashanti Moore and Daszay Freeman of The Queen's School.

The Digicel Grand Prix Finale should provide all the answers as to which schools will rule at the March 26-30 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls' Athletics Championships where Calabar High will be seeking eight straight boys' titles and 29 overall and Edwin Allen, their sixth straight girls' title and seven overall.

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