4x800 battle lines drawn ahead of Gibson-McCook
BATTLE LINES were drawn for this Saturday’s Gibson-McCook Relays at Jamaica College on February 18.
Defending 4x800 champion school Jamaica College (JC) and 2023 Western Relay winners Kingston College (KC) tuned up for Gibson-McCook with notable personal and seasonal bests at last week’s inaugural Fervet Distance Carnival, with Kemario Bygrave leading the way, with a big personal best of 1 minute 50.90 seconds (1:50.90).
Bygrave’s form and the depth of his squad have made JC’s middle-distance coach Duane Johnson optimistic about a title defence.
“Well, I do expect a wonderful performance. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to the 7:24 that we laid down last season, but I do believe once we put it together right, I do believe a sub-7:30 is still on the cards,” he said with a reference to the meet record of 7:24.30 seconds by the JC quartet of Omarion Davis, Handal Roban, Bygrave and J’Voughnn Blake.
Blake and Roban have graduated after glorious high school careers, but Johnson’s 2023 troops are getting ready. At the Carnival, Tyrone Lawson, 1.56.89, Roban’s Vincentian compatriot, Nellie Ambriton, 1.57.24, 2021 Boys and Girls’ Championships Class Two runner-up, Khandale Frue, 1.57.26, and Rasheed Pryce, 1.57.89, all produced their fastest times of the season.
“I do believe we can defend the title,” said Johnson.
KC ran a leisurely 7:49.92 at the Western Relays but at the Carnival, middle-distance coach Hamlin Pagon got personal bests, 1:54.03 and 1:55.90 from Schevorn Wardlow and Kenyan import, Nahashon Ruto, respectively. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Of course, as usual, Kingston College seems to be getting stuff together themselves, having Ruto running 1.55 on Saturday which blew my mind away, for a first-year Class Two athlete,” said Johnson.
He knows KC will improve its Western Relays performance.
“Wardlow wasn’t at 1:54 just yet, so with him also having a personal best on Saturday, 1:54.0, knocking on the sub-1:54 barrier. So, they should put together a good team and it should be hotly contested for the most part,” Johnson predicted.
Wardlow ran the fastest leg for Kingston College at the Western Relays – 1:55.4 seconds.
Western Relays runners-up, St Jago High School, will be led by Corlando Chambers, the 2022 Boys and Girls’ Championships finalist.
Chambers lowered his lifetime best time to 1:53.50 seconds at the Fervet Distance Carnival.