Northridge’s Cole, betters NCAA-leading LJ
By Christopher Hunt
People had been waiting for this race, waiting for Texas senior Leo Manzano to take the baton on the anchor leg – the mile portion -- of the distance medley relay. Manzano snatched the stick already with a lead, Arkansas junior Andy McClary attached to his right shoulder.
McClary sat on Manzano and waited, just as BYU’s anchor did behind McClary, each waiting for Manzano to flinch. Manzano hoped one of them would grow frustrated and take over the pace. Neither happened.
Texas won the men’s distance medley relay at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in 9:39.92. Arkankas was second in 9:40.64, BYU third in 9:41.34.
“The plan was to go out and try to get that 9:34,” Manzano said referring to the NCAA automatic qualifying time. “We didn’t get it but I’m happy with how we ran.”
Manzano eventually pulled away with a 4:05.2 anchor leg. Afterward he wished he would have been more aggressive.
“In a way, I think I could have just went harder myself,” he said. “I was kind of thinking that the guys would help me out. But they hung back.”
Manzano will run the mile today. He promised not to get sucked into a slower pace again.
“If all goes well, we’ll be looking to go under 4 (minutes),” he said. “If the pace goes out slow I think I’ll just have to take it upon myself to go out and take it if no one else does.”
Manzano was just one Olympic-hopeful at the meet yesterday. Freshman Reindell Cole of Cal State-Northridge, stretched his NCAA-leading long jump even further. He won the men’s championship long jump in 26 feet, 4 1/2 inches, a school record.
Cole had already hit the automatic qualifier for the NCAA championships when he cleared 26-1 3/4 at the UW Invitational last Sunday. Ngonidzashe Makusha of Florida State finished second with a jump of 25-4 ½.
Peter-Gaye Beckford of Arkansas won the women’s championship long jump with a leap of 20-10 1/2, which qualifies her automatically for the NCAA championships. She popped the winner on her second attempt in the preliminaries.
“My runway has been good but I’ve really put working on my landing,” Beckford said. “I was able to get a good jump and really stick my feet out there this time.”
A couple of former Long Island standouts also returned to their own stomping grounds with stellar performances. Villanova junior Sean Tully, a Syosset grad, broke the meet record in the men’s 1,000 meters, finishing in 2:23.42. His mark bested the previous record of 2:24.35 set by Corey Duquette of Virginia Intermont in 2006.
Tully worked through a tight crowd and tucked in behind Micky Corbin of Arkansas, then dropped Corbin with a hard surge on the back straightway for the win.
“I was on the outside to start and the race got out pretty quick,” Tully said. “I didn’t want to take the lead. By the second lap, it wasn’t going well. I got checked a bit, got clipped. When the kid from Arkansas took it, I just went with him. Then I just made my move and held it.”
Tully, with his brother and teammate Dan, set the national high school record in the 4x800 relay at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships at the Armory in 2004. He said he still gets nervous when he comes into the building, just not as much as he did in high school.
“I love coming here,” he said. “I love coming home.”
He still remembered the national record he helped clock in high school. Now he has another record-setting performance to add to his resume at the Armory.
“That’s amazing,” he said. “I had no idea what the meet record even was. I was shocked when I heard them saying it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that. Now I have two records here.”
Danny Harris of Georgetown, who competed at St. John the Baptist, won the men’s college 800 meters in 1:52.62. Harris said he knew the pace was slow for him early but still decided to settle in behind James Gurr of Seton Hall. But Harris took over with 150 remaining.
“I was just trying to come out here and compete,” said Harris, who lives in Deer Park, Long lsland. “I knew it was a little slow but I’m still kind of trying to get my legs under me. This is a great confidence-booster. Especially, since my people are here, my family, my parents.”
Buffalo junior Fatimah Hill is not quite a local product, but still the New Yorker won the women’s college long jump in a personal best 20-3 1/2, earning a provisional qualifier for the national meet. Hill, a Waterport, N.Y. native, had never jumped 20 feet before. She did so twice yesterday.
“I wasn’t holding my feet up,” she said. “I’ve been struggling with that for a long time now. I’m just really happy.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.