Although it was only the second year competing in the illustrious Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, the St. Vincent Grammar School last weekend impressed athletic fans and supporters with its performance at the 124th staging of the games.
The all-boys teams placed third in the 4x100m and 4x400m on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“We’re very proud of the performance,” Head Coach Rawlson Morgan told a reception Saturday night for the athletes at the Vincentian-owned Calabash Restaurant and Lounge on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia.
“They [the teams] did extremely well, taking into consideration that they were not 100 percent [fit],” he added. “We had couple of injuries. It was a concern to us.”
Curtis King, the Grammar School Head Master, later told patrons at the reception which included New York Consul General Howie Prince; members of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc.; the St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Association of Washington, D.C.; and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania – that he, too, was very proud of the teams’ accomplishment.
“We have set the bar, so we can begin rubbing shoulders with the Jamaicans,” said King about the Caribbean nation that is renowned among the world’s top athletic power houses.
In interviews with Caribbean Life the next day, at a brunch, at the same venue, for the athletes, Morgan and King reiterated their impression with the teams’ performance.
“When I looked at how they approached the races, I was very happy,” King said. “I was very elated.”
He said, however, that the 4×100 team, in particular, could have done better but for the chilly weather on Friday and an unhealed hamstring injury to Javon Rawlins, who anchored that leg.
“Taking everything into consideration, I’m very proud of the guys and very happy that no major incidents took place,” Morgan chimed in. “I think the guys did extremely well.”
King said the team’s performance in the 4x400m – in which it competed with 12 schools, including two it beat from Jamaica – “put us in a better position to solicit on their behalf to ensure they are present next year.
“The performances have indicated to us that the school has a lot of talent and, once given the opportunity, there’s no telling what they can achieve,” he said.
The 4×100 team — Zwicka Charles, Jadyn Delpesche, Jovanie Lavia and Javon Rawlins, in that order – competed in 44.90 sec. Last year’s team had competed in 44.30 sec.
The 4×400 team – Lavia, Ethan Myers, Handel Roban and Charles, also in that order – recorded the best time ever: 3 min., 22 sec. Last year’s Penn Relays’ effort was 3 min. 27 sec.
Roban had snatched the gold medal in the 800 meters, in 1 min., 56 sec., in the Under 17 Category, at the just-concluded CARIFTA Games in the Bahamas.
“[It was] the first time at the games [Penn Relays], and I enjoyed it a lot,” the soft-spoken Roban told Saturday night’s reception.
“I’ve broken seven or eight records [to date],” he added, using his fingers to count, to huge laughter. “My personal best today was 49.43 sec. in the 4×400 [m].”
In a terse speech that evoked patriotic cheers, screams and goose bumps from patrons, Lavia told his story.
“I got sick after 300 meters; I was down and out,” he said. “Then, I heard the Vincies [in the Franklin Field stadium] screaming, then I ran. It was a great experience.”