He’s got his sights set on the finish line — and he’ll race anyone to get there.
Clara Barton grad Ronaldo Griffiths has been running for as long as he can remember. Now, the award-winning hurdler is anxious to take the next step — onto the track at Mississippi State University.
“When I put up the times that I have, I’m confident,” said Griffiths, who won the Wingate Award in boys outdoor track last month. “The first time I ran [the hurdles in 52 seconds], I was kind of stunned because I was only a freshman. My first thought was, just imagine what I can do when I get to my senior year.”
Griffiths was nothing short of unstoppable throughout his high-school career. He racked up victories in the 400-meter hurdles this spring, posting first-place finishes at both the city championship and the Mayor’s Cup tournaments, and also picking up a city title in the 110-meter hurdles.
Griffiths set the citywide standard in hurdles during his career, but he’s quick to point out that distance running — not hurdling — was his first track and field choice.
“I was a distance runner, but I saw the hurdles and it looked fun and I wanted to do it,” he said. “We started with some lower heights until we got up to the competitive ones and then I progressed throughout my middle school years and took it serious in high school.”
Griffiths began competing in the 400-meter hurdles as a freshman — picking up a city championship award with a 53.28 finish that outdoor season — and discovered he could combine his love of distance with his natural ability for sprinting in a single event.
“I took my distance technique and my hurdling technique...and kind of combined them together,” he said. “I just figured out that was the perfect race for me.”
Griffiths, who was born in Jamaica but moved to East New York when he was just six years old, has his sights set on international competition. He ran in the CARIFTA [Caribbean Free Trade Association] Games in Jamaica this past March, posting a 51.92 finish in the 400-meter hurdles. That time shattered the previous record by a Public Schools Athletic League runner — Boys & Girls High School sprinter Frank Mensah’s 52.58 finish in 1992, and, Griffifths hopes, opened the eyes of the international track and field community to his talents.
“That was a good debut internationally,” he said of his 51.92 time. “It showed a lot of people that I can do good stuff on the track, even though I’m from the city. A lot of people don’t expect that [from New York City athletes].”
Griffiths is keeping his options — hopeful he’ll be Olympic-bound in 2020 — but first, he’s ready to take on collegiate competition.
“I don’t know how far I can go,” he said. “This is just the beginning. My parents always ask where all this determination comes from, and who knows? I just want to keep running.”
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