STATHS aim­ing to win Champs in six years

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Hu­bert Lawrence Gleaner Writer

TWO-TIME Olympians Mike Fray and Isa Phillips and 1983 World Cham­pi­onship sprinter Everald Sa­muels are part of the rich track and field his­tory nur­tured at St An­drew Tech­ni­cal High School (STATHS).

If a new am­bi­tious thrust hits the tar­get, STATHS will make more his­tory by win­ning one or both of the team ti­tles at Boys and Girls’ Cham­pi­onships six years from now.

That goal is en­trenched in a ‘2-4-6’ plan that is now guid­ing track and field at the school.

“It’s a plan to win Champs step by step and we’ll try to win it in the sixth year,” said STATHS Champs hero, Don­ald ‘Cherry’ Davis.

Ac­cord­ing to the school’s past stu­dents as­so­ci­a­tion, the first step has been suc­cess­fully taken and has seen the STATHS’ track and field team in­crease in size to 130 stu­den­tath­letes. They train un­der the guid­ance of In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) level five in­struc­tor, Roy Thomas, who has re­placed Rans­ford Spauld­ing as head coach.

Launched ear­lier this year, the STATHS 2-4-6 plan aims to build the teams from the lower age groups and to work to­wards fin­ish­ing in the Champs top 10 in 2018, which is year two, in the top five in 2020, year four, and to chal­lenge for the team ti­tles in 2022, the sixth year of the new pro­gramme.

Cen­trally, STATHS ex­pects to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for their grad­u­at­ing ath­letes to ob­tain a free col­lege ed­u­ca­tion via ath­letic schol­ar­ships.

Davis, a STATHS Boys’ Cham­pi­onship high jump win­ner in 1980, is part of a group that is help­ing to steer the school to glory.

“When you see peo­ple mak­ing an ef­fort, you have to join them,” he smiled. “And they’re real mak­ing some ef­fort and I’m proud of them.”

Davis, a long time sup­porter of his old school, is en­cour­ag­ing fel­low past stu­dents, cor­po­rate spon­sors and friends of STATHS to help.

“We just need to get the fi­nan­cial back­ing,” he said.

Dona­tions can be made via the Go­FundMe web­site at www.go­ ?r=95143.

Coach Thomas is be­ing as­sisted by a team of four as­sis­tant coaches Ken­neth Darby, Vanissa Brown, Collin King and Nigel Brown. Darby and Brown re­turned to the is­land last sum­mer, af­ter study­ing ath­let­ics for the past six years in Cuba at the Univer­si­dad de Pi­nar del Rio. To­gether, Thomas and his team of coaches are tar­get­ing suc­cess at both Boys Cham­pi­onships and Girls Cham­pi­onships.

So far, Ex­cel­sior High and St Jago High schools are the only Co-Ed teams to win at both Boys and Girls Cham­pi­onships.

STATHS placed 10th and 11th at Girls Cham­pi­onships in 2013 and 2015, re­spec­tively. The boys’ team didn’t score any points this year, but reached a four-year high of 21st in 2014. Dur­ing this pe­riod, the school’s top ath­lete was Ayesha Cham­pag­nie, who took three gold medals at Boys and Girls’ Cham­pi­onships in 2015.

Work has al­ready be­gun to im­prove fa­cil­i­ties at STATHS, with the open­ing of a gym there and Davis pre­dicts that past stu­dents will help as the pro­gramme pro­gresses.

He said: “I think what will turn it around is when we get to Penn Re­lays.”

He be­lieves that will spur US-based STATHS alumni to come on board.

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