Well folks, that's it for the 2012-2013 seasons for Cross Country and Track and Field. With the conclusion of the World Youth Championships, the majority of our athletes are home for the season, and building towards either college or those cross country courses in the fall. We here at MileSplit NY have just finished our second year under new management, and have made strides in bringing you the best coverage around. We've had a banner year on twitter, becoming the most followed state in the network, as well as nearly 11 million page views since September. In terms of athletes, we've had unparalled performances, new breakout stars, and countless new state records. To keep it succint, it has been another great year for the Empire State. To commemorate the end of the season, we'd like to look back at our top 10 moments from the past year. These may not be the fastest times or best performances, but they were moments that were aided by the stories behind them, the rivalries established, and the accomplishments achieved. We'll be releasing two a day, with the top pick being released on Saturday night. While they are ranked numerically, their order is only slightly important. Each moment proved thrilling for the track fan, and we look forward to even more in 2014. And be sure to sound off in our comments for moments you think we missed, as cutting this down to a list of ten was not easy.
6. How Sweep It Is For The City's Starlet
As we move up this list, it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish excellence. There is a lot of talent in New York State. In an effort to keep the list equal on both sides of the male/female spectrum, we have come to an athlete who leaves the Empire State as one of the greatest ever. State record holder in three different events, top listed on the All-Time scale in others, Kadecia Baird of Medgar Evers has brought sprinting back to the North, where typically the Southern states have dominated. As an underclassmen, she revolutionized fast, culminating with her state record, and US #4 All-Time 51.04 performance over 400m and the World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Competing for her native country of Guyana, there was even talk of her time qualifying her for her native Olympic Team. Not limited to the quarter mile, Baird put in fantastic times over the 100m, 200m, and 300m indoors.
Heading into 2013, people were ready to see the fast times. However, the unexpected happened. After competing in the early season, Baird went down mid-race with an apparent hamstring injury. The tightness threatened to do anything from sideline her for a week, all the way to forcing her out for the season. After a proper diagnosis, (it had been a hydration issue, as dictated by her coach), Baird was on the mend, doing all the necessary precautions to coming back for elite competition. The time off didn't seem to slow her down, as the first race back, she went US #2 All-Time in the 300m, clocking 37.54, a new state record. She would then drop down to the 55m dash, running quick marks, and capping off the season with a selection of State Winning relay runs and taking home gold in the 55m as well.
Outdoors is where our top Moment from 2013 comes from. The season went as usual. Baird represented her home country in the Carifta Games to boot the season off, then returned home to NY to compete locally, putting in solid marks over 200m and 400m. Entered into bigger invitationals, Baird was just edged out by Olivia Baker, a rising star out of Columbia, NJ at the Loucks Games, but returned to win the 200m. However, our moment comes from the Spring State Championships. On one singular day, Baird managed to run through the rounds, capturing gold medals in three separate events, while earning wind-legal season bests in all three events. Not only did she win her events, but she blew them out. Her season would continue at New Balance Outdoor Nationals, where the longtime team goal of earning the state record for the 4x100m was achieved, lowering the mark to a blistering 46.01. Continuing even further for her native country, Baird just returned to form over 400m, to set a new, nation leading time of 51.32 at the Caribbean Games Qualifier, just days before committing to run at the University of Nebraska in the fall. A gracious athlete through all the highlights of her career, she is well known in the city track atmosphere as team focused, always considering herself a relay athlete first, individual events almost an afterthought. And yet, she still has more races to run before her time in high school is up. Who knows, maybe she can break Sanya Richards high school record of 50.69.
5. Underclassman Overtake The Full Lap Dash
Moment number 5 on our list of 2013 is special for a whole slew of reasons. It demonstrates the strength of a singular event, which will continue for at least two more years. At the Outdoor State Meet, two sophomores did battle over the quarter mile, each favorites in their own right, and blew away the field. The rarity of such an event being dominated by not one, but two underclassman, is significant. The competition put pressure on a state class record held by Elzie Coleman, who can only be described as one of the fastest high school racers the country has ever seen. The two key players here were Richard Rose of Boys and Girls, and Izaiah Brown of Amsterdam. Both came into the race with a different heritage of success at bigger meets, each holding a state record already. Rose had earned both of his as part of a relay, while Brown's was earned at the Indoor State Meet.
Richard Rose had been a standout ever since his freshmen year. He was a strong, 1:54 leg on a National Champion 4x800m, and was no stranger to speed. Indoors, he made several solid attempts at the 600m National Class record, hitting 1:19.41 at the New Balance Collegiate. It translated well to the open 400m Indoors, only run at New Balance Nationals, where he took 5th overall in 48.32. Outdoors, he sticked close to home in his competitions, putting most of his top times in at Icahn Stadium. Running both the 400m and 200m, he lowered his personal best in the 200m down to 21.83, while snagging a strong 47.52 just a handful of hours later. At the State Meet, Rose was able to duplicate his performance, clocking 47.51, a new PR, overtaking 3rd place by almost a full second. But it still wouldn't be enough to catch the other sophomore.
Izaiah Brown had been a talking point since Indoors. He was something of a sleeper pick, despite going into last years' Outdoor State Meet as the favorite over 400m. The only reason the state wasn't more aware of the sophomore was that he had been having leg issues at the 2012 Outdoor State Meet, which slowed him down through the rounds. His early indoor career was quiet. Amsterdam being a smaller school upstate, funds were not available from the school to make the trek down to the Armory, so Brown kept plugging away at the 300m from Union College, not known for its sprint-conducive design. That led Brown to being the 15th seeded athlete heading into Indoor States, a meet he would end up winning in State Record time. Outdoors, his tall frame was more adept at cruising to fast times, proven by his ability to double and triple at meets all spring, still putting in personal best times. Heading into the state meet, he had run 47.72 FAT in the open, and looked to match up quite well against Rose
On the day of the meet, after a cancelation and combination of the schedule, the pair lined up together. As the gun went off, the two immediately broke the stagger, and came down the backstretch together. Not perfectly smooth in form, the well over 6 foot frame of Brown was leading the shorter Rose at the 200m. Both were ahead. Coming into the homestretch, as the crowd cheered for one of the closest races of the day, Brown crossed the line in a new personal best, blowing out a 47.20, and taking home the title. This moment, a state event being dominated by two sophomores, which promises for a rematch in the years to come, stands as our number 5 moment of 2013.