Keyshon Toussaint was ready and delivered.
The South Shore junior runner vindicated his 4x400 relay team’s last-place finish in the Milrose Games last year by taking the Vikings from worst to first on Feb. 20. Toussaint, an anchor, was leading coming into the final turn, but expected rival and top-seeded Boys & Girls to get close — so he saved a little energy for one last push.
“I already had a gap on him, so he already had to use his kick to cover the ground I already made,” Toussaint said. “I’m waiting for him to be shoulder to shoulder. Then I just kicked it, and that was it.”
The surge was enough to secure the Vikings’ first Public School Athletic League 4x400 relay crown at the Milrose Games crown since 2007. Toussaint and teammates Richard Kettle, Theodore Westcarr, and Ramone Newland won the race in 3 minutes 19.64 seconds at the Armory.
Toussaint was better prepared for the big stage after running at Milrose and outdoors in the Penn Relays and the league’s city championship meet last season. His confidence is growing, according to Vikings coach Paul Schneider.
“He’s not scared of anything anymore,” the coach said. “He knows what he needs to do.”
Toussaint didn’t win alone. Newland ran the third leg to a T — the team’s top runner moved the Vikings into the lead for good shortly after grabbing the baton.
For Newland, it’s all in a day’s work.
“My coach expects me to pass the other guy to get a lead,” he said.
South Shore also placed second in the Eastern High School 4x200.
Springfield Gardens closed BryaAnn Sandy’s 75-meter lead to about 20 in the back straight of the Public School Athletic League’s girls’ 4x400-meter relay. The junior was able to hold off the surge and allow anchor Amanda Crawford to do what she does best.
The senior — one of the best runners in New York City — ran a blistering final leg, allowing Robeson to cruise to a second-straight crown in the event. Crawford, Sandy, Latoya Stewart, and Alysaa Sandy won in 3:50.53. It was the second victory of the day for the Eagles — the team also won the Eastern High School 4x200 with a time of 1:39.09.
“I knew this was a really big meet, so I just wanted to come out and do my best and trust my training even though the two races — the 4x200 and the 4x400 — were close together,” said Crawford.
Having all of the runners except for Stewart also compete in the 4x200 may have kept the team from its ultimate goal. The Eagles had to push to win by .68 seconds.
Robeson already owns the third fastest time in the nation this year (3:48.95) in the 4x400 and was looking to move into the top spot by beating the 4:46.68 record that Maryland school Bullis School set.
“We were looking for U.S. No. 1 today, but because we ran the 4x200 really hard,” Crawford said. “It showed us, even though we performed already, our training is working and we are getting better.”