'Victory delayed does not mean denied,' Hydel team captain Oneika McAnuff delivers inspirational speech as school celebrates historic victory

By April 05, 2023
McAnnuff with the team trophy as the team celebrated their historic victory on the school grounds on Monday. McAnnuff with the team trophy as the team celebrated their historic victory on the school grounds on Monday. Collin Reid

The ability to overcome adversity, hard work and a commitment to excellence led Hydel High School to their first-ever title at the 2023 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships that concluded at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, April 1.

After five days of intense competition, the Ferry-based academic institution scored 279 points to dethrone eight-time defending champion Edwin Allen by just two points.

As the team celebrated on Monday, Hydel High’s head girl and track team captain Oneika McAnnuff, delivered an emotional and inspiring speech to her fellow students that encapsulated the essence of the spirit that galvanized the 34-member team and propelled them to the historic achievement.

“The road to this victory was really bitter-sweet. In 2019, we lost champs by a mere seven points. It was a gut-wrenching feeling knowing all the hard work we had put in,” said McAnnuff, who will depart Hydel for the University of Kentucky this summer.

“With the feeling coming so close to the victory that year sparked something among the team and for 2020 we worked tirelessly.”

That work was in vain as the onset of the pandemic caused Champs to be cancelled in 2020, which was a significant blow to the school and its athletes.

“The Covid-19 virus led to all sporting events being canceled for that year. 2021 was by far the hardest year for us both as a team and a school,” she said, adding that despite the setback they managed to rise above it all.

“After finally recovering from the damage Covid-19 had done to us something tragic happened. Our school’s head office caught fire and we lost everything inside. And as you can see we’re still trying to recover from those damages.

“2022 was a spectacular year for our track team we broke a total of five records at Champs that year.  We won five of six hurdles races (and) won the 4x4 for the fifth consecutive year.

“We had six persons on the national CARIFTA team and six persons on the World U20 team that went to Cali, Colombia. And our very own Mr. Corey Bennett was the head coach of both teams.

“Our 4x400m quartet of Alliah Baker, Oneika McAnnuff, Kerrica Hill and Brianna Lyston also went on to break the Penn Relays record that was held by Garriel White, Shiann Salmon, Ronesha and Charokee Young also of Hydel. So regardless of the fact that we placed second at Boys and Girls champs we accomplished a lot as a team.”

The hard work and sacrifice finally paid off in 2023 said McAnnuff, who won the 400m hurdles and won silver in the 400m during the championships.

“Now, many persons might ask what we did differently this year? Well the answer is found in Isaiah 40:31 that says, ‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. We have been faithful and putting in all the work,” she said.

“Our coach has never put the pressure on us that we must win Champs but he believes that we must produce quality performances and we did just that. I must say the entire team did an excellent job and every single person that gave a point it made a difference.”

McAnnuff singled out one particular teammate, whose performance characterized the team’s resilience in the race to the title against the Edwin Allen juggernaut.

“I must talk to the performance of the championship from Kaydean Johnson. While competing in the 2000m steeplechase Kaydean fell over the last barrier and was passed by her competitor but instead of staying down she rises back up and sprinted to the line to claim victory for the team…that is the type of passion and guts that it took for us to take this championship,” she said.

“Many persons doubted our abilities even we ourselves sometimes felt a bit unsure but the unwavering support of all our coaches and support staff kept us grounded. It has been a long time coming and this victory just goes to show that delayed does not mean denied.”

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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