Calabar High (RABALAC) and Edwin Allen High schools are highly favored to retain their titles at the 108th staging of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships which start today inside the National Stadium at 1:00 pm.
Not to be outdone are the boys and girls from St. Jago, Hydel, Holmwood, Jamaica College and the nemesis for all Kingston College. Today is when we begin to see the newcomers who will take over the mantle from Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Fraser-Pryce, Campbell-Brown and Williams-Mills.
Calabar High will be hunting their seventh consecutive hold on the prestigious Mortimer Geddes Trophy and their 28th overall, while Edwin Allen look safe for their fifth-straight and sixth overall.
But the likes of Kingston College (KC) and Jamaica College (JC) will make life difficult for Calabar High in the boys' section, with Hydel High, St Jago High and Holmwood Technical aiming to end Edwin Allen's reign in the girls' section.
Calabar High, after narrowly defeating KC last year in the final race, have looked awesome all season, and the pundits are predicting an easy victory by at least 60 points.
Calabar's Assistant Head Coach Omar Hawes doesn't see it that way and he believes it is going to be hard work as usual.
“We never normally count the points, we just want the team to be in good shape,” Hawes told the Jamaica Observer.
“It's not about confidence at this time, it's about execution. The team is basically well prepared in our eyes as coaches. If we execute well enough [based on] what we have been seeing in training, then I think we should be able to defend the title successfully,” he added.
As far as injuries are concerned, Hawes pointed out that there would always be niggling injuries but nothing to stop anyone from performing.
Although Calabar are heavily favoured to win, they are not taking anything for granted, and Hawes is of the opinion that main rivals KC are playing possum and JC are improving.
“JC have been showing some resurgent energies that are looking pretty good, and I think they are going to come much stronger than previous years. KC, on the other hand, is a quality team, but has shown their hands sparingly throughout the season, so I don't know if they are going to be coming with a surprise,” he noted.
In the girls' section, the Michael Dyke-coached Edwin Allen should easily secure their fifth consecutive title with minimum fuss. But coach Dyke is leaving no stones unturned and is taking nothing for granted following their 51-point victory last year.
“At this time the team is in very good shape and a good frame of mind getting ready to start the defence of their title,” said Dyke.
He continued: “We have never seen any victory as easy until it is completed. We always see each championship as a competitive and challenging one. We have never sat back until it is over.
“Holmwood, the former champions, will always be there and you can never at any point in time take your eyes off them. Hydel have been knocking for quite some time, but I believe at the end of the day we will keep them knocking and do what is expected,” said a confident Dyke.
Action on the track begins at 1:00 pm with the boys' Class One long jump preliminaries following by the girls' Class Four 70m hurdles and girls' Class Two shot put and ends with the boys' steeplechase Open.
The first final of the championship will be on Wednesday and that will be the boys' Class Two long jump final at 3:05 pm, followed by the girls' Class One discus and girls' Class Two shot put finals. The boys' Class One long jump at 5:50 pm will be the fourth final of the day.