This year, like every other since 1964, Jamaican athletes will descend on Philadelphia to take part in the United States of America’s oldest and largest track and field competition, the Penn Relays.
College teams from UTech, UWI Mona and GC Foster College will look to continue their recent uptick in performances. Smaller high schools will look to give their athletes greater exposure and more competition on the international stage, and individual athletes will compete in throwing and jumping events.
But most of the attention for the Jamaican contingent will be focused on the major high school teams in the boys and girls 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
This is for good reason.
FIG 1. Jamaican High Schools in top 10 overall times for Championship of America races at the Penn Relays
The top tier Jamaican high schools have made an indelible mark on the competition, with schools such as Calabar, Camperdown, Edwin Allen, Holmwood Technical, Jamaica College, Kingston College and Vere Technical dominating the record books.
But just how much have they dominated?
In a look at the top 10 fastest times recorded in each of the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800 Championship of America races, Jamaican schools have 25 of the top 30 times in Girls races and 20 of the top 30 times in Boys races. A further breakdown of these results is shown below.
Jamaican high schools in the 4×100 boys top 10 list are represented by Calabar (3) who set the record last year (39.63), Wolmers Boys (1), St. Jago (2), Camperdown (1) and St. George’s College (1).
FIG 2. This graph demonstrates the most victories by Jamaican High Schools in Championship of America races at the Penn Relays – (BOYS). Only schools with totals in the top 10 list for each race are shown – SBTN
The remaining spot on the list is taken by El Dorado West out of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago with the ninth fastest time overall. Jamaican teams have also won the last 10 Championship of America races on the trot and with three Jamaican teams in this year’s event capable of running sub 40 second times, the record could be reset by a Jamaican school yet again.
In the 4×400 boys top 10 list, Calabar (2) holds the highest position for a Jamaican team with the second fastest time set in that epic battle with Munro College in 2013. St. Jago (2) and Manchester High School (1) also appear on that list.
Jamaican schools have won the last eight of these races in a row and nine of the last ten, a run which is also slated to continue given the calibre of teams that will be involved this weekend.
For the 4×800 race St. Jago (1) has the fourth fastest time overall set all the way back in 1990. They are joined on the list by Calabar (1) with the sixth fastest time and Jamaica College (2) with the next two.
St. Elizabeth Technical (STETHS), who have done very well in this event, won last year’s race. That win followed Calabar’s win in 2014, which was the first for a Jamaican team since Manchester High in 2008.
Overall, Jamaican high schools have won eight of the last ten Championship of America 4×800 races.
On the girl’s side of the 4×100 relay, Jamaican teams have won eight of the last ten High School Girls Championship of America races.
FIG 3. This graph demonstrates the most victories by Jamaican High Schools in Championship of America races at the Penn Relay – (GIRLS). Only schools with totals in the top 10 list for each race are shown – SBTN
Edwin Allen has won the race in the past two years, taking over from Holmwood who won in 2013.
The fastest was recorded by Vere Technical (2) in 2004. They were followed by Long Beach Poly out of California. No school has run faster since then.
Holmwood Technical (4) and Edwin Allen (3) round out the rest of schools on the list, meaning nine of the top ten overall times have been recorded by Jamaican schools.
In the High School Girls 4×400 relays, Holmwood (4), Edwin Allen (1) and Vere Technical (2) are the Jamaican representatives with Holmwood setting the record in 2001 after stopping the clock at 3:34.7.
Edwin Allen’s 2014 time follows closely behind and both those teams will be gunning to take the record this year.
Jamaican schools have won eight of the past ten Championship of America 4×400 girls titles and seven straight since 2009, with STETHS having a distinct possibility of taking bragging rights this year.
However, like the boys, dominance of the 4×800 relay has not been as dominant as the sprints. But teams from the island have nine of the top ten times recorded shared between three teams.
Vere Technical (4) again leads the way with the record time of 8:37.7, set in 1991. Edwin Allen (3) has the most recent time on the list, set in 2011, while Holmwood appears on the list twice.
Holmwood’s win last year was the first for a Jamaican team since 2012 and their first since 2010.
Between Edwin Allen and Holmwood, Jamaican teams have won seven of the past ten 4×800 races at the Penn Relays.
Vere Technical has been by far the most successful Jamaican High School team at the Penn Relays with 35 total titles, 33 of those coming on the girls’ side of competition.
They have won the most 4x100m and 4x400m races and the second most 4×800 races of all the female high school teams entered in the Championship of America races throughout the years.
Holmwood Technical has won the most 4×800 titles with nine of these to add to five 4×400 titles and four 4×100 titles. Edwin Allen is the only other school to appear on all three lists having won four 4×100 titles, four 4×400 titles and five 4×800 titles.
Surprisingly on the boys’ side, Camperdown has won the most 4×100 titles of all the Jamaican teams with eight (3rd overall behind Mercersburg Academy and Boys & Girls who are both on nine), their last coming a decade ago in 2006.
Kingston College have the chance to tie them with a win this year as they sit on seven,
but neither of these schools sit in the top 10 list for most victories in any of the other categories. St. Elizabeth Technical top the charts in the 4×800 Championship of America relays with seven titles, two more than their closest rival and four more than any other Jamaican school has.
Calabar will be looking to tie Kingston College on seven 4×100 wins while at the same time preventing the Purples from North Street from taking another step toward being the most successful Jamaican 4×100 school of all time at ‘Penns’.
A 4×400 win for the boys from Red Hills Road would put them out front on their own in this category.
If there was ever any doubt, the statistics unequivocally proves that Jamaican high schools have made a lasting imprint on the Penn Relays.
And with athletes and teams getting faster each year, even more dominance is expected in the foreseeable future from the sprint capital of the world.
Data Source: pennrelays.com (all research and calculations were done by SBTN)