WHEN St Catherine High School's name has been mentioned in the past in the area of sports, they have been mainly known for their exploits in rugby, basketball, and netball, but things have changed significantly as the Spanish Town-based school is now making a name for itself in track and field, especially among the girls.
Under coach Marlon James, who has been at the helm of the track and field programme since 2010, the school has been holding its own and has made a big mark, staying on par in several areas with the likes of neighbours St Jago High and leading schools such Edwin Allen High, Holmwood Technical, and Vere Technical.
For the past three years, St Catherine have finished well at the Championships of America high school girls 4x100m finals at the Penn relays, and last year, they finished fourth, behind Edwin Allen, St Jago, and Hydel High in 45.26 seconds.
Last July, two athletes from the school, Julien Alfred, native of St Lucia, and Johnelle Thomas, picked up gold medals at the sixth Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas. Alfred won the 100m title in 11.56, and Thomas captured the 400m hurdles in a personal best 59.40.
At last year's Boys and Girls' Championships, St Catherine's girls finished in 11th position on 32 points, level with Petersfield High. James is confident that they will get more points and a higher position this time around.
"The season is going well for us so far, despite a few setbacks, and we have been playing it safe, especially from Central Championships going into the Gibson McCook Relays. I am very confident that all the teams will be in the relay finals at Champs, and we should easily finish in the top 10," he said.
James said the recent rise is because of the dedication of his athletes.
"It is just hard work and dedication, and there is a commitment from the past students, which has made a big plus on the major sports at the school. The support of the principal has been very integral here as without him, we would not have been where we are now. We put God first as our motto is 'Pray and Work Conquer All'," he said.
"We should get over 50 points easily (at Champs). We are strong as usual in the sprints and relays, but we have diversified this year in moving into throws and jumps, and we should score some points in these areas," he stated confidently.
James said significant contributions should come from Alfred in the Class Two sprints; Anna Kay Allen in Class One 200 and 400m; and the talented Sankyaw Tulloch in the Class One high and long jumps.