Chamique Francis wanted some answers when told she and some of her Benjamin Cardozo teammates would not be headed to the outdoor track and field state meet.
“We wanted to know why because everyone loves states,” she said.
The answer was that the Judges 4 x 400 relay team of Francis, Ahtyana Johnson, Lateisha Philson and Sabrina Southerland will be competing in the prestigious adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on June 12 instead making the trip to Vestal High School. Cardozo’s team, which was invited, holds the fastest time in the country at 3:41.62. The rest of the team’s qualifiers will go to states according to coach Gail Emmanuel.
“We accepted it because we knew it’s better competition so we can know where we sit overall,” Philson said.
Cardozo will again get to run against some of the best teams in the country and the best Jamaican squads, the same reason Medgar Evers will also be sending its top squad there. Some of the world’s best professional runners will also compete at the Grand Prix, even with the world’s fastest man Usian Bolt pulling out because of injury. Cardozo placed third in the 4 x 400 Champions of America race against similar competition and a similar environment at the Penn Relays in April and is looking for a second chance. It ran in the the Grand Prix last season and won the 4 x 100 race.
“We were like, ‘OK, that’s a good experience since most of us have already been to states,” Francis said.
The Judges going to the Grand Prix is one of the factors that motivated Medgar Evers, which will also send the rest of its qualifiers to Vestal, will have its team of Kadecia Baird, Rachel Leeke, Shakele Seaton and Nyanka Moise attend. They have already run the seventh fastest time in the country at 3:43.14.
“Why go to states and the competition is not there?” Cougars coach Nicola Martial said. … “If [the Judges] were there we would have went.”
She also said her team got a taste of that level of competition at the Penn Relays. It qualified for the Champions of America final, but had to pull out after an injury to Baird. Medgar Evers would love to do nothing more than prove itself on a big stage.
“That will be a time for redemption,” Leeke said.
Columbus’ Fountain to also miss state meet: Whitney Fountain had all the intention of competing at the New York State outdoor state championships. The Columbus star and one of the PSAL’s most accomplished runners is the state leader in the 200 meters and a title contender in the 400 hurdles and the pentathlon. She missed the indoor state meet to run at the Gibson Relays in Jamaica in March and this time had another rare opportunity presented to her.
“I wasn’t going to go to prom and go to state because I want to run, but my friends told me it would be fun. It’s the one time you have a high school prom,” Fountain said. “I gave in.”