“IT is difficult for my team to win the title as while a few of my main rivals are bolstering their squads, they are, at the same time, doing their best to deplete my team.” This is the perspective of a frustrated Corey Bennett, head track and field coach at Hydel High School, as he slammed rivals St Jago for consistently poaching his top talent. “We lost a quality girl, last year in Shaneil English, who went to St Jago, and at the start of this season, a similar situation occurred as Alysha Kelly, who missed Champs last year after transferring from Guy’s Hill, was ready to compete for us at the Championships, but like English, she was lured away to St Jago High,” said a very disappointed coach Bennett. “It is sad when one invests in these athletes and selfish people try to break what you try to build,” added Bennett, who stated that it would always be hard for his team to really challenge for the title if they consistently lost their athletes to other schools. Pressure mounting Despite losing English last year, Hydel, who, in fairness, also recruit heavily, was still able to overcome that hurdle and finished second behind Edwin Allen, and ironically, in front of St Jago. However, this time, Bennett believes things will be even more difficult for his team. “We have a good all-round team, but with those losses and twin sisters Shadae, an outstanding thrower, and Shardia Lawrence a very excellent triple jumper migrating to college overseas, we will have to dig deep to remain among the top three,” continued Bennett, who also stated that he would be taking a different approach this year. “We used to compete at every development meet in the past, and because of this, they were very exposed, and when they are beaten by other athletes, they are kind of unmotivated going into “Champs”. Now we are going to be a bit quieter by going to fewer meets and especially low-keyed ones – and then make a big push for Champs,” he said. Meanwhile, Bennett is tipping Edwin Allen to successfully defend its title. “Based on what I have seen so far, Edwin Allen looks a safe bet to win again as I don’t think they have lost much of the 100 points they won by, while teams like Vere Technical and Holmwood Technical have looked really good so far,” assessed Bennett. Hydel is undoubtedly the most improved team in the country in schoolgirl track and field. After entering the Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships in 2011, where they finished 11th among the girls, Hydel has enjoyed tremendous movement up the table. They secured their first top-10 finish the following year and have remained in the top five, with their best finish being last year’s second-place finish.
Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell, long-time St George’s College (STGC) football coach, while surprised by his team’s perfect four wins from as many games, says there will be no let up, noting St George’s must improve all areas of play, win their zone and qualify for the ISSA/FLOW Super Cup.Bell’s ‘light blues’ team were beaten Manning Cup and Walker Cup finalists last season, but emphatically won the FLOW Super Cup with a 4-0 defeat of previous champions Jamaica College.With STGC’s 24 goals scored and one conceded so far, Bell is not satisfied yet, but is calling his charges to prepare as a team for tougher games as the first round heads to a climax.”We don’t take anything for granted and we play hard because this zone is a tough zone, and we are not out of it yet. We certainly would like to qualify for the Super Cup and we would certainly have to win the zone,” the coach told The Gleaner, following his team’s 11-0 mauling of lowly Tarrant High on Saturday at Winchester Park, St George’s College.UPCOMING MATCHESThe North Street-based school will have several remaining first-round games to play, including a continuation of the match away to Excelsior High, which was called off due to former captain Dominic James’s passing. They will also line up against Greater Portmore and Tivoli Gardens High in return fixtures.”We can improve in every single area, the defence, midfield. We are not there yet and there are many more games to go,” the coach reasoned.”We thought with Dominic, we would do well and we still think we will do well. We need to improve in all areas, we are not there yet,” he stressed, adding that no game is an easy game, despite their winning margins.”We certainly have some tough games, we have taken every single one seriously so far,” Bell explained. “There are still many more miles to go.”