Though Hydel High started the high school athletics season strongly at the Purewater/Jamaica College/R Danny Williams Invitational on Saturday, head coach Corey Bennett says he still has some concerns as the road to the 2020 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships began at the Ashenheim Stadium.

Bennett says that adjustments will have to be made to the team’s training going forward, as he has identified the middle-distance races and the jumps as areas of weaknesses that need correction.

“I have some concern with our middle distance and our jumps. We are at about 30 per cent in our preparations and I think we have to make some changes going into the next phase of training,” Bennett said. “I think we are behind. We lost a few middle distance and sprint talent due to graduation and otherwise. I think we are taking a little bit long to get going in those departments, but I trust that we will find a way and we will try to press a little bit more to get some better results from those areas.”

The results in the 800m have been mixed. While Shanieka McDonald had the best time in the finals in Class Three with 2:17:24 seconds and Tamecia Roberts’ 2:26:51 was good for eighth overall, the Class Two athletes struggled.

Dejona Simpson finished sixth in section, while other representatives Daena Dwyer finished 10th in section two and Kebarna McIntrye finished sixth in section three. Garriel White fared better in the Class One event, placing third in her section.

TALENT DEFICIENCIES

The transition has been difficult for Bennett and his staff especially in the middle distances, as a lack of talent in those areas has caused early season frailties, which have also extended to the jump events.

“I think we have had genuine talent deficiencies in those areas. Many of our athletes especially the jumps are athletes who are worthy of the track. Because of the limitations of the amount of events you can do, it’s causing a little bit of a gap, so to speak, in terms of finding persons who can fit into those gaps in a proper way,” Bennett said. “As for the jumps, we weren’t really that bad, but I know that we have to be a lot better if we want to compete among the best.”

An area that will give Bennett some comfort is the sprint and sprint hurdles.

Jodyann Doyley won the Class Four 70m hurdles in 10.85 seconds, Kerrika Hill took the Class Three 80m hurdles, while Oneika Wilson dominated the Class Two 100m hurdles in 13.70 seconds.

Additionally, reigning Class One double sprint champion Ashanti Moore enjoyed a good start to her season, winning the 100m event in 11.74 seconds.

Bennett is pleased with how the athletes performed and hopes that other areas will see positive results as the season progresses.

“In terms of on the track, mostly in the shorter sprints and hurdles, I thought we acquitted ourselves very well. The athletes are giving us it little bit more of what we desire. They have been working well in training. I hope that other areas can come up to a speed where there isn’t a disparity between the sprints and the hurdles and other areas,” Bennett said.

After a successful staging on Saturday, Ian Forbes, chairman of the organising committee of the Purewater/Jamaica College (JC)/R Danny Williams Invitational meet, said that they are aiming to attract a lot more international participation next year.

Forbes said that the meet, which saw over 2,200 athletes from across the island taking part and almost 4,000 spectators exceeded his expectations. He is now hoping that they will be able to attract schools from the United States and the Caribbean next year.

“For that to happen, we will need more communication and more marketing,” Forbes noted.

INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION

The meet, held last Saturday at Ashenheim Stadium on JC’s school ground, was in its 27th staging and, in fact, had some amount of international participation.

“From overseas, we had unattached athletes and we also had masters athletes, females who are over 35 years old,” Forbes noted.

The organisers are now planning to increase the numbers and to include clubs and institutions.

“We are hoping to attract more athletes from outside of Jamaica, some from possibly US high schools and colleges, because in certain parts of the US, it is pretty cold presently. It would offer them an opportunity to get some early season competition. And of course, we are looking towards our Caribbean neighbours to participate as well,” added Forbes.

“We need to insist on the benefits of competing in Jamaica - we have a good facility, there are some islands which do not have a synthetic track for their athletes to compete; we have the best coaches in the world; we have talented athletes, who offer very good competition and we have very knowledgeable track and field spectators,” Forbes stated.

Forbes underlined that the newly built track is a welcome addition and will help towards preparations for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, which will be held from March 24th to 28th at the National Stadium.

“The new track has been a huge difference. We used to have coaches complaining about the previous surface but now, there is no complaint. They are all very happy and excited to compete here,” said Forbes.

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BRIDGETOWN, Guyana: Guarding against complacency will be the main priority for West Indies when they clash with minnows Ireland in the first-ever full One-Day International series between the two sides starting at Kensington Oval today.

West Indies have lost just one of 10 meetings with the Irish and having won their last three encounters by significant margins, enter the three-match rubber as heavy favourites.

However, Ireland have been known for springing surprises and captain Kieron Pollard said his side would not be resting on their laurels, as they chased an important series result.

“That’s one of the things we spoke about at the start [of preparation], the complacency no matter who we play against or where we play and the opposition,” Pollard said.

“Again it’s an opportunity to showcase your talent, an opportunity for you to go out and give … yourself the opportunity to perform, or the people of the Caribbean or the selectors something to think about. You never know when it’s going to happen for you.

“So it doesn’t matter who you play against, you have to give that same sort of intensity and complacency is something we don’t want to accept in this camp. It has been spoken about quite a lot and it’s going to be spoken about throughout the entire series.

West Indies are coming off a 2-1 series defeat to the subcontinental powerhouses in the three-match series last month, and will view Ireland as a crucial opportunity to rebound.

EXTENDING MOMENTUM

After whitewashing Afghanistan in a three-match series last November, the Caribbean showed plenty of heart against the Indians and Pollard said extending that momentum would be important to efforts to mould the side into a winning unit.

West Indies field the same squad which faced India last month, minus Test captain and fast-bowling all-rounder Jason Holder who has been rested.

Their attack will be led by flamboyant left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell and is stacked with the likes of Test seamer Alzarri Joseph, fast-bowling all-rounder Keemo Paul and rookie pacer Romario Shepherd.

A total of 60 teams participate in the brand new venture and the make-up of the first edition is known with all the fixtures set.

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