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A THORNY ISSUE: Tight schools’ battle


Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Tight schools’ battle

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Don’t expect another runaway victory for Springer Memorial but they should still past the post first in the girls’ section of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships.
They have a 45-point lead with two days of competition left and that tally is a lot less than in former years coming into the homestrecth but their reserves still appear to supercede that of their main rivals.
Queen’s College, in second spot with 62 points to Springer’s 107,will outpoint the champions comprehensively in the under-13s with the twin towers of Cristanna Mcconney and Timeka Jordan likely to dominate the sprints with some intervention from Tiana Bowen of Lester Vaughan.
In fact, Mcconney has already won gold in the high and long jump and is duly expected to double up in the short sprints. Jordan is capable of silver or bronze in both the 100 and 200 metres. In essence, Queen’s can earn a maximum of 36 points here or a minimum of 32 without any response from Springer who are weak in this division for the first time in many a year.
Not only that, Queen’s look set to take the under-13 girls 4 x 100-metre relay having posted the fastest qualifying time of 53.47 seconds. Springer has not advanced.
The balance, though, is restored among the under-15s where the irrepressible. Tristan Evelyn should be dominant in the sprints with strong support coming from Jalisa Burrowes who has already won gold in the long jump and looks poised to be the champion hurdler in her division.
Alana Ince of Queen’s should have some say in the hurdles and 400 metres.
The champions looked superior among the under-15s in the 4 x 100-metre relay with the fastest time of 50.32 seconds in the prelims. Queen’s look to be out of the money with a time of 57.96 seconds.
Springer again holds the edge in the under-17s over Queen’s primarily in the form of Akela Jones who has already won the high and long jump events and will be very competitive in the 200 metres and the 300-metre hurdles in which she is the defending queen.
There’s also the crucial factor that Springer is rated second in the under-17 girls’ 4 x 100-metre relay and Queen’s have not advanced. St Michael is the top qualifier and the inform Leah Barker will be more than a handful in the sprints.
Cindy Forde of Combermere should be the bright spot in the middle distance in the Under-17s.   
There doesn’t appear to be one dominant female under-20 competitor or by extension school, although Shavonne Husbands of Deighton should do the sprint double and sademariah Greenidge of Springer should assert her authority in the hurdles and be competitive in the sprints.
The usual suspects like Shani Adams (Coleridge & Parry), Sonia Gaskin (Parkinson), Crystal Holder (QC) and Erica Griffith (QC) should be prominent in the senior girls middle distance events.
Of course what happens in the field events, which are usually overshadowed by what transpires on track, will help produce your champion and this is where Springer are able to balance the scales better than anybody else.
Their strategic planning is also of the highest order. Case in point is the use of Tanice Watson this year. Still eligible to compete in the under-17 division, they moved her up to the under-20s – not their strongest section – and so far she has repaid them with 18 points, a first in the long jump and second in the triple jump.
That says it all.
Once again desire and not technique will decide the boys’ champion.
And yes it can go right down to the relays being the decider.
St Leonard’s hold down the top spot with 82 points, followed by Lester Vaughan on 62 and defending champions Harrison College (61), Queen’s College (50), Lodge (49), with both Combermere and Ellerslie on 43 each as the leading contenders at present.
As in any team sport, it is the collective effort that fetches glory even if there are outstanding individuals to fan the fires and inspire the troops.
Current chart toppers, St Leonard’s, are the large shadow looming over the only other two schools who,in my opinion, that can win the championship. That pair being Harrison and Queen’s.  
Last year they mounted a mighty challenge which only faded on the last day. They would be mindful of that and should be better prepared mentally to fight all the way down to the wire this time around.
Above all else, I think it is the passion to reach the summit that will provide this year’s winners.
For me, Springer in the girls and Queen’s the boys.

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