“Athletes like to be part of a rich culture and Camperdown had a rich culture, like the Sprint Factory. We’ve lost that for the past few years and we’re trying to see if we can get back to that light. We now have a cadre of sprinters. I believe that as a team we will do well. It’s been a long time since we’ve done 40 seconds in the 4x100m. At the corporate area championships, I don’t think anyone is looking forward to seeing us in first class at 40.99, and I think the team is capable of doing a lot better,” promised Okeile Stewart, head coach of Camperdown High School. March 25.
After the Stewart Boys placed third in the 4x100m Class 1 at the ISSA/GraceKennedy (Champs) Boys and Girls Athletics Championships in 40.04 seconds, Rimando Thomas, Junior Harris, Jason Lewis and the Roshawn Clarke 400m hurdles delivered on the coach’s promise with a spectacular win at the prestigious Penn Relays last Saturday. Thomas, Harris and Lewis gave Clarke a slight lead and the tall hurdler threw a good anchor leg to close out a timed effort of 40.13 seconds, which, by the way, is the same time that earned Camperdown its last Penn Relay victory in 2006. Jamaica College, 40.16, and St Jago, 40.17, finished second and third.
Those who missed a similar effort from Clarke at the Champs were surprised the Class 1 400m hurdles champion was so fast. “A lot of people never knew Rossshawn was a sprinter until he became a hurdler,” the coach recalled.
The success had been brewing for several seasons. “Over the years we would have started bringing guys together, but we lost some along the way, whether it was recruiting from other schools or athletes just deciding to quit working. But, this group of guys that we have right now, as well as the coaching staff that we have, we’ve pretty much weathered the storm and, as you see the result today, that’s something that we’ll enjoy and grow from there,” Stewart said.
The victory gave Camperdown a record ninth victory in the Penn Relays 4x100m.
The success was a model of efficient handovers, as the highlight of the Camperdown sprint at Champs was the bronze medal won by Lewis in the 100m class two. One of Stewart’s former teams, the Swept TC 4x100m, showed similar efficiency in a 38.84-38.97 upset against MVP Track Club at the 2012 Western Relays. “It’s very satisfying. One of the things I understand about relays is that you can’t go halfway. You have to go to the limit and that’s what we did in Montego Bay, and that’s what we did here today,” said the man who guided Rushell Clayton to bronze in the 400 meters hurdles at the 2019 World Championships.