Bennett: Tough for Hydel to repeat in Gibson McCook 4x400m
Hydel High School’s girls raced to within touching distance of the Gibson McCook Relays 4x400 metres relay record last year. However, Hydel’s coach, Corey Bennett, reckons that his 2023 team will have to do something special to retain the title tomorrow at the National Stadium.
“It’s going to be tough,” he began with reference to the season-leading time of three minutes 37.52 seconds by Edwin Allen High School at the recent Western Relays ahead of the runner-up team from Holmwood Technical at 3:38.06.
“We’ve seen some very good times out there early, 3.37 and 3.38. I have two senior girls, and the other two are going to be very inexperienced,” he estimated. “We’re going to have to produce something special to win that 4x400m on Saturday night,” Bennett calculated.
Squad captain Oneika McAnuff crushed the second leg last year and will lead the Hydel charge.
“She’s in good shape,” Bennett assessed of his 2022 Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) 400 metres hurdles champion.
“I think she’s willing to lead from the front again. I’m hoping she can rally the troops. Aliyah Baker is also there. She’s got experience from World Under-20. She’s coming around quite a bit this year,” the coach noted.
Hydel are not completely helpless. At the St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) meet, Bennett’s 400m runners placed first and second in the Class One, Two, and Three 400m and topped the 400m hurdles as well. McAnuff and Baker did the business in Class One, with the ineligible Ferncourt transfer Abigail Campbell and Jodyann Daley superior in Class Two, and Nastassia Fletcher and Sashana Johnson prevailing in Class Three.
Nevertheless, Hydel lost the 4x400m to Edwin Allen at STETHS.
Hydel have an enviable record in the event, with three wins and two meet records at the Penn Relays, three wins at Gibson McCook, and four wins at Boys and Girls’ Champs. Asked to pick his all-time Hydel 4x400 team, Bennett responded decisively, “I would have to say Shian Salmon, Charokee Young, Oneika McAnuff, and I would have to say Brianna Lyston.”
Their times at Hydel made his choice simple. “I think those four girls have the fastest flat 400m times for the school,” Bennett said. The actual times are 52.05 for Salmon, 52.38 for McAnuff, and 52.48 for Young, and Lyston powered to a relay split timed at 50.8 at Champs.
The 4x400m wasn’t always Hydel’s signature relay.
“It was a difficult event for us early,” the coach said. Hydel didn’t win a medal in the 4x400m until 2016, the institution’s sixth year at Champs.
“I just figured if we’re not going to win Champs, you want to win the last event, and the culture kind of came from that where we want to leave Champs happy with our heads up even if we weren’t winning Champs. Pretty much, it was built from that,” Bennett said.
The Gibson-McCook record - 3.33.34 - was set in 2013 by a Vere Technical foursome including current 200m World champion Shericka Jackson. Last year’s winning time was 3.33.76.