New pecking order in schools games

By robert kibet
Apr 20, 2021
  • Laiser Hill Academy tackle Ofafa Jericho during Metropolitan games. They rallied from 0-12 down to beat Maseno 13-12 in the rugby final. (Photo by Shutterspeed).

The just concluded Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association that attracted over 1000 participants representing eight regions saw new talents emerge in different events.

In rugby, regulars found the going tough. The boys from Simotwo Secondary School which is in the athletic-rich Elgeiyo Marakwet County, despite trouncing Menengai in earlier Mau regional games to sail through to the nationals could not sustain the agility of the academic giants Alliance, Maseno and Laiser Hill in group matches.

The Toromoi-coached boys were athletic as a result of their high altitude training but were deficient when it came to strength, according to their coach. The semis saw Kakamega's Barbarians who are the three-time consecutive national champions since 2011 - before losing to St Peter’s Mumias - battle out with Laiser Hill Academy.

In a tightly contested match, Laiser Hill Academy which is coached by Kevin Wambua won by a margin of five points to book a date with reigning East Africa champions Maseno who had trounced the Masimbas of Kakangaru in their semi.

But it was the final match which at some point became more physical that caught everyone’s attention. When the last whistle was blown, it was Laiser Hill’s turn to celebrate as Maseno ralllying from 0-12 down to win 13-12.

With fans thronging to the pitch shouting the words ‘ the game was poorly officiated’, the game’s officials were left with a task of identifying a lady said to have slapped a Laiser Hill player immediately the match ended in.

“We wonder how referee could issue 13 straight penalties for Laiser Hill without even a caution. However, Maseno will have themselves to blame by losing 12 points courtsey of the 4 penalties awarded to them,” said Felix Oloo, head coach for Nakuru’s under 19 and under 15.

In Cross Country, the 2015 saw a changed course at the Nakuru Boys High school ground which was meant to provide challenging obstacles for the the young runners over tough terrains.

According to officals, it was these changes that, played a role in reduced pace for both girls and boys junior races.

The absence of Ruth Chebet, a double defending champions in the girls’ category and a former student of Riruta, now running for Bahrain provided an opportunity for last year’s third-placed Valentine Chepkemoi Mateiko of Nzoia region placed 5th in recent concluded Africa Junior championships in Ethiopia in the 5000m discipline to grab the title.

However, it was not an easy win as Mateiko was matched stride by stride by 17-year old Evaline Chelang’at from Mau region who missed nationals last year due to a knee injury.

Barkach upset Lorot

In the boys' category, reigning national East Africa 10000m champion Alfred Barkach of Kasisit Secondary School in Baringo drained reigning national schools cross country champion and Africa Junior cross country silver medalist Andrew Lorot of Riruta off his energy to win the title.

Erstwhile boys’ basketball, defending champions Upper Hill from Metropolitan region (Nairobi) may attest to this school of thought after falling by half a basket to academic giants and 2010 champions Maseno at Nakuru High School, the main venue for the games.

Upper Hill's defeat was, however, priceless since by clinching the second position, they will be one of the teams which will do duty for Kenya in the East Africa Secondary School Championships slated fo Kigali, Rwanda in August.

During the semi finals, Maseno saw off much improved Kapenguria High 49-41 while Upper Hill disposed off St. Georges from coastal region 67-30. Upper Hill’s 46-45 defeat at the hands of the Lake region representatives was too bitter a pill to swallow for them so much so that their inspirational player Ajack John. He was inconsolable, shedding tears at the end of the showdown that was played under a light drizzle.

After the final, Ben Oluoch, the Upper Hill coach remarked: “That was anyone’s game. We gave our all but as fate had it we lost. Losing by half a basket is the worst nightmare for any team.”

Upper Hill started strongls and led 21-14 in first and second quarters before half time. But Maseno summoned their strength and will power to snatch the third set 23-15 never to look back until the end to the delight of their coach Paul Otula.

The score-line aside, it was apparent that talent at KSSSA games is getting better and better and if the standards produced by Maseno’s pint-sized attacker Oluoch Dwynne, Ogeto Gecheo and Upper Hill’s Ater Isaiah and Ajack is anything to go by, then Kenya can only dream of making it big.

Dare dream in basketball

In the girls’ category, Kenya can also dare dream of challenging the best in the game going by what was showcased by eventual winners Shimba Hills’ Winnie Akinyi, Saint Brigids’ Lavin Kisaka or Melvin Iminza from Parklands Arya.

The same applies to hockey where several teams proved a gem despite the heavy rains that pounded Nakuru during the final and which resulted into the award ceremony being disrupted.

Narok Boys proved why they won the 2014 title at Shimo La Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa when they retained the crown albeit with a hard-fought 3-0 win over St. Anthony’s from Nzoia region, via flicks.

The team of the moment, arguably, was Trans Nzoia Day Secondary which won the girls' hockey title in their maiden appearance at the nationals after defeating regional champions Sinyolo 1-0.

Trans Nzoia coach Joseph Onyango attributed their success to nurturing talent at a tender age. “We identify potential players as early as they are admitted into the institution. The girls have been thirsty for success and the results are there for all to see,” said Onyango.