Otis Barker (Toco Secondary) retained the boys title at the 2017 Blue Waters-sponsored Secondary Schools 5K Classic held at the Shiva Boys Hindu College, Clarke Road, Penal on Sunday. Barker took the race in 14 minutes and 35 seconds (14:35), ahead of Akeem Marine (Pleasantville Secondary) who timed 14:40, and Justin Hersely (Sangre Grande Secondary), who finished in 14:49.
The 2016 champion was pushed all the way by Marine but held on for a well deserved victory.
Two-time Under 16/17 cross country champ Matthew Pulchan (Pt. Fortin West Sec) was hoping to upset his elder rivals but had to settle for fourth (14:56).
Hersely set the early pace, taking the lead from the start along Clarke Road, just east of Shiva Boys College, with Marine and his Pleasantville schoolmate Sherwin Andrews trailing. Xavion Yorke (Shiva Boys) and Kibwe Cromwell (Toco Secondary) were also among the early leaders. Barker started slowly but quickly moved up to third behind Hersely and Marine, just before the roundabout at Katwaroo Trace.
Barker took control of the race before the mid-point as the runners headed to Ramdharry Trace with Marine still in second. Hersely dropped to third, as he began to feel the effects of his quick start. Barker, in control, led the pack into the final stretch in a well executed performance.
Speaking after his victory, Barker described the event as a difficult one. “The run was a tough one. The second place finisher was close behind me and was giving me a tight run,” he said.
The lower sixth form student was pleased though with his second straight triumph. “Last (year’s victory) was sweeter because I ran harder. This year I didn’t make much effort but I was able to finish well,” he said.
Among the girls, Cassandra Joseph crossed the finish line first, completing the course in 17 minutes and 57 seconds (17:57), ahead of the Over 17 6K Cross-Country champ Shania Le Maitre (Holy Name Convent-POS), 18:41, and Kelly-Ann Phillip (Toco Sec), 18:49.
The 14 year old Joseph won on her third attempt, after finishing second in 2015 and third in 2016. She ensured the girls’ crown stayed in Toco for the fifth straight year following the hat-trick of wins for Donicia Antoine in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Kaylah Jah of Point Fortin West Secondary made her bid for the top spot as she pulled away with the male competitors at the start of the race. However, Joseph and her fellow Toco runner Xea Bruce caught Jah before the roundabout at Katwaroo Trace. Cheziah Phillip (Toco Secondary) was in fourth ahead of Le Maitre with Nikiela Baptiste (Shiva Boys), Jakiba Ramjohn (Malabar Sec), Mikayla Ottey (Toco) and Kelly-Ann rounding off the top eight. Joseph then took control of the race and won by 44 seconds from Le Maitre. Kelly-Ann moved ahead of her rivals to finish in third (18:49), with Bruce ending in fourth (19:44). Aleisha King of Iere High (20:50) took fifth place ahead of Toco’s Jada James (22:24), Fayanne Johnson (23.06), Kareice Roberts (23:09), Ottley (23.21) and Cheziah (23.35).
Joseph, the bespectacled runner, is aiming to represent Trinidad and Tobago at next year’s Carifta Games and has ambitions of competing at the Olympic Games.