With intermittent rain drenching chunks of the first two days at the 125th staging of the track and field meet, coupled with stoppages due to lightning and a threatening storm which forced spectators to evacuate their seats on the second day, the region’s athletes brightened up Franklin Field stadium with outstanding performances.
Led by Jamaica’s high schoolers and the nation’s senior women, Caribbean athletes defied the inconsistent weather to carve out memorable moments.
“It would have been an outstanding Penn Relays,” Michael Dyke, coach of Jamaica’s Edwin Allen’s girls team which won multiple events, told Caribbean Today. “… (We are) shining in the sun.”
When blue skies appeared on the final day, Caribbean athletes reveled in glory. Jamaica’s women roared to victory in the “USA v the World” 4x100 meters relay. World and Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce led Natasha Morrison, Sashalee Forbes and Shillonie Calvert to the win in 43.19 seconds. Jamaica’s women returned to take the top two places in the 4x400. Jamaica Yellow, featuring Shericka Jackson, Janieve Russell, Christine Day and Stephenie McPherson, won in three minutes, 28.94 seconds. Jamaica also finished second to the United States in the women’s sprint medley relay.
The massive Caribbean segment of the crowd was given added fuel for celebration when six teams from Jamaica lined up for the high school boys 4x100 championship. St. Jago won in 40.83 as Jamaican schools claimed the top four places.
Edwin Allen was the Caribbean’s most prolific high school, their girls winning multiple championships in individual and team events. Lashanna Graham snatched the 400 meters hurdles in 58.02 seconds on day one. Schoolmates Ackelia Smith and Lotavia Brown finished first and second in the triple jump. Smith’s winning leap was 13.02 meters.
Adrienne Adams of Excelsior High won the girls’ discus throw with 48.91 meters, leading Jamaican schools to the top four places. The high school girls’ shot put was won by compatriot Danielle Solely of Immaculate Conception with 14.38 meters.
Edwin Allen’s brilliance spilled over into the second day, winning the 4x100 in a new “Penns" record. Serena Cole and Kevona Davis joined twins Tina and Tia Clayton to clock 43.62 as Jamaican schools swept the first six places.
In the high school girls 4x400, Holmwood Technical’s team of Danaille Brissett, Daniella Deer, Rickiann Russell and Kavia Francia romped to victory in 3:37.20, beating fellow Jamaicans Hydel and Spalding into second and third, respectively.
Edwin Allen also secured the 4x800 title, with Jessica McLean, Kayan Green, Nadine Rose and Rushana Dwyer clocking 8:54.02.
Caribbean high school boys blossomed too. Calabar’s Kai Chang of Jamaica won the discus with a throw of 66.42. Calabar also won the 4x400 and 4x800 championships. The team of Nile McLaymont, Romario Northover, Shevoir Reid and Evaldo Whitehorn clocked 3:12.66 in the shorter event to beat Jamaican rival Kingston College. In the 4x800, Devannah Gayle, Kevroy Venson, Rivaldo Marshall and Kimar Farquharson recorded 7:36.61.
Shaun Miller Jr., from the Queens College in The Bahamas, cleared 2.12 meters to take the high jump for high school boys, while. Petersfield’s Courtney Lawrence secured another victory for Jamaica, with a distance of 20.21 in the boys’ high school shot put.
Jamaican Shannon Kalawan, competing for St. Augustine’s University, won the college women’s 400 meters hurdles in 57.37. Compatriot Shanice Love, representing Florida State, secured the college women’s discus title with a throw of 58.25.
Jamaican athletes also earned special honors at Penns. Whitehorne received the Bill Miller Memorial Award as the high school boys athlete of the meet for relays for his anchor leg of 46.77 seconds in Calabar’s 4x400 win. Edwin Allen’s 4x100 win secured the outstanding female relay team award.