By Christopher Hunt
The night before the junior boys 600 meters New Bern’s Anthony Hendrix made a point to mention the fact that no one pegged him to win a race that matched a group of the best scholastic long sprinters that this country offers. He seemed confused.
Apparently he had a right to be. Hendrix darted out to the front and put a gap on a field that included Terrance Livingston of Great Neck South and the national leader in the 400 meters Clayton Parros of Seton Hall Prep (N.J.). Livingston made his move on with 150 left and pulled even and Hendrix never gave an inch and won in 1:18.36, the second-fastest time in United States history.
“I knew I wanted to run the first lap hard,” Hendrix said. “I was trying to go for the record. It wasn’t the best race. I was dying at the end. But I won and that’s all that matters.”
Livingston finished second in 1:18.70, the third-fastest time in history and a New York State record. It looked for a moment that Livingston would squeeze by Hendrix on the back straightaway, even Hendrix thought he’d get by. But Hendrix held Livingston off until the final curve. Livingston tried to switch gears again on the homestretch but found his tank empty.
“I tried to go before the turn and then when I got to the turn my legs just stopped going,” Livingston said. “I felt fine. My breathing was good. I felt good but my legs just won’t go. With 20 meters left I just put my hands up to the sky like, why is this happening?”
Anthony’s twin brother Andrew Hendrix finished third in 1:18.89, US #4 all-time and Parros, who was pushed to the back early and never really got in the race, came up for fourth in 1:18.90 (US #5 all-time).
While most of the excitement for the junior boys race unfolded at the end, the drama in the girls race happened even before the start. Only 5 of the 7 runners that checked into the race were on the starting line when the race was set to start. Then Mount Vernon’s Brenda Crump came rushing over and soon after people realized that Hempstead star Charlene Lipsey wasn’t nowhere to be found.
The announcer made a call for her to report to the start and while people looked around for the favorite in the race. The entire field was set and Lipsey stood by the check-in clerk still wearing her sweats and backpack.
“I didn’t even hear the call,” Lipsey said afterward. “I went to the bathroom.”
She rushed over to the start and stripped to her race uniform, jammed her running spikes on her feet and scurried to the line still breathing heavily. The gun sounded and Catherine McAuley star Phyllis Francis zipped to the front. Lipsey, caught flat-footed, got off the start line slow and made a move down the back straightaway to reach Francis’s shoulder. She moved to the front on the second lap and while Francis challenged Lipsey over the last 200 meters, the Hempstead senior fended off Francis and won in 1:29.85, the fourth-fastest time in US history and the fastest in the country this season.
Francis, who holds the second-best mark all-time (1:29.65 last year), finished second Saturday in 1:30.62.
“My mindset was all thrown off,” Lipsey said. “I didn’t’ get out like I wanted to. The first lap I didn’t’ think that I was going to win because my mind was all over the place. I knew that if I could get in front that all I had to do was just hold her off until the last turn and I could win. But I never got comfortable in the race.”
Lipsey was still flustered afterward.
“My whole race I was panicking,” she said. “I think I was ready to go 1:28 today.”
The high school races proved they were built to break records. Eleanor Roosevelt’s Janea McCammon (24.8), Doris Anyanwu (25.1), Aurieyall Scott (23.9) and Afia Charles (24.1) broke their Maryland state record, winning the girls 4x200 in 1:38.15. They topped the school’s own 2002 time of 1:38.20.
“We were just got confident that we could win,” Charles said. “I thought that once Aurieyall got the stick that we got this. Then for me I just figured it was the last race of the day so I’d better put it all out there.”
Scott blew the race open on the third leg on the same exchange where Cardozo, fighting for the lead at the time, dropped the baton at the exchange and was disqualified.
“We really came in looking to run 1:37 today,” Charles said. “But we’re going to have another chance and we just have to work on some little things.”
New Bern’s Fuquawn Greene, Deaishaun Styron, Anthony Hendrix and Andrew Hendrix won the boys 4x200 in 1:27.06, the third-fastest time in US history. New Bern had a shot at another national record, after breaking the 4x400 mark Friday night, but a shaky baton exchange between Green and Styron cost them valuable time. The time is also a North Carolina state record and the fastest in the country this season.
New Bern and Roosevelt’s dominance was no surprise but Transit Tech’s performance in the boys 4x800 relay certainly drew some attention. Farid Rollack (1:59.0), Elijah Rollack (1:56.9), Julian Ward (1:59.1) and Kameron George won in 7:52.43, the third-fastest time in the country this season and the fastest in New York State.
“We all just came in with everyone looking to run as far under two minutes as possible,” George said. “I knew that with how good each of us is in the 800 that we’d be able to run something fast today.”
The talk around the state when it came to the 4x800 usually surrounded the catholic schools like Fordham Prep and Monsignor Farrell but now Transit Tech can stake claim to having the fastest relay in the state.
“We watched Robby Andrews (of Manalapan) and everybody come bust out all these records and it got us hyped. We wanted to come out and do our own thing and show what we could do.”
St. John Villa won the girls 4x800 in 9:19.14, the second-fastest time in the country this season. They battled with Bronxville for most of the race until Dominque Claudio and Bronxville’s Caitlin Hudson broke away from the pack on the anchor leg. Hudson surged with two laps to go to get away from Claudio but she never relented and made her own push on the bell lap.
“I wasn’t going to battle her on the third lap,” Claudio said. “My coach wanted me to stay smooth and I figured I could just stay with her and make my move at the end.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.