Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Immaculate start well

Published:Tuesday | January 10, 2023 | 1:12 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Franz Forde, head track and field coach at Immaculate Conception High School.
Franz Forde, head track and field coach at Immaculate Conception High School.

In his 13 years at Immaculate Conception High School, head coach Franz Forde has helped the school to three top-10 finishes at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, four more in the top 15 and a high point score of 81 in 2019, when the team placed sixth overall. However, his smile can hardly ever have been brighter than last weekend, when Immaculate got their 2023 campaign off to a great start.

His throwers did a great job on Day One of the Jamaica College Development Meet and it spilled over into Day Two. Zoelle Jamel speared her javelin 34.75 metres and placed second to teammate Jamie Tulloch in the Class Three discus. Immaculate picked up one-two finishes in the Class Four 100 metres, thanks to Kayla Johnson and Naje Brown and, in the Class One 100 metre hurdles, with smooth mover Essence Burbridge and Cerae Mahabeer clocking 14.05 and 14.61 seconds, respectively in still air.

Niara McLeod won the Class Four long jump, but the biggest Immaculate triumph came when they swept the first four places in the Class Two shot put. They were led by Jada Francis and her winning throw of 11.65 metres.

A grateful Forde said, “I’m being very honest with you. Without a doubt, as you said, it was a good season, and I am just looking forward to this one to see what will happen.”

After a slow recovery from the dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Immaculate placed eighth at Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships with 76 points, the school’s third top-10 finish in six years. Earlier in the season, they created a stir by winning all the 100 metres finals at the Corporate Area Championships.

Mickaila Haisley, Shevi-Ann Shim and Kedoya Lindo were winners there in Classes Two, Three and Four. All three are back this season.

With very little lost to graduation at the end of the 2022 season, it might be possible for Immaculate to break the 100-point barrier at Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships for the first time since 2000. Forde, a throws expert, has his fingers crossed.

“We are praying that everything works according to what we have set up,” he said last Friday.

He was quick to praise the people around him at Immaculate, including young sprints/hurdles expert Floyd Quarrie and Mathue Tapper.

“I have a very good coaching body and, best believe, I support my coaches 100 per cent and they have been working overtime. Coach Quarrie definitely, coach Tapper also working ahead,” Forde said.

“Our management team has been working overtime for us to get little things out of the way, and definitely our sponsors,” he said.