Lipsey makes her point a mile long

By Christopher Hunt

Charlene Lipsey pounded her chest with her right hand. The adrenaline hadn’t subsided yet. The motion displayed an affirmation of the Hempstead senior’s heart, although she didn’t really need another display. Her race said enough.

Lipsey won the invitational girls mile Saturday in 4:55.81, the fourth fastest time in United States this season, in just the second mile race of Lipsey’s career.

“To be honest, being that I didn’t qualify for Millrose, I felt bad,” Lipsey said. “I knew that most of the girls that were going to be in this race were going to run at Millrose. Since I didn’t get invited, this was like my Millrose. It showed that I can run with any of them.”

Lipsey made her point. She didn’t receive any invite to Millrose Games but all she had was the 5:02.62 mile she ran at the Stanner Games last Saturday, which was the last day that performances were being accepted for entry into the invitational mile at the Millrose Games Jan. 30 at Madison Square Garden. But Lipsey still felt the urge to prove herself and with Roslyn’s Emily Lipari and Melanie Thompson of Voorhees, who have the first and second fastest times in the country this season, respectively, the race gave the perfect opportunity.

She started by running out to the front. Then she did what inexperienced runners do: she waited to see what everyone else would do. The pace stayed honest for two laps until Lipsey started to back off. Lipari tried multiple times to take over the front but Lipsey wouldn’t let her by. Then North Shore’s Samantha Nadel sprinted for the lead. Lipsey followed until Thompson challenged for the lead.

Thompson lead into the bell lap with Lipsey on her shoulder. Then Lipsey first opened her hands and then her strides and put the race away on the back straightaway.

“When (Thompson) went in front I just went with her,” Lipsey said. “Whatever she did, I did. My coach (Lenroy Raffington) said to just stay with the leaders until the last lap. After that I know that no one should be able to outsprint me.”

Thompson finished second in 4:56.81. Lipari paid for the constant surging and finished third in 4:59.97.

“The girl has range,” Raffington said. “She wanted to compete against those girls (that were invited to the Millrose Games) and she what happens. This is what happened.”

The day was full of personal bests. Junior Linda Hadfield of NY Mills improved her state-leading mark in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet, 4 inches on her last attempt.

“That was the best jump I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.

She experienced some trouble before that, she missed at 11-6 twice.

“I think I don’t put enough pressure on myself sometimes,” Hadfield said. “So then when it comes to the last attempt it’s like alright I have to do this.”

Another season-best came from Newburgh’s 4x400 relay team. Doris Little (58.8), Danielle McHolder (58.4), Dasia Jones (58.4) and Shante Coppedge (58.5) won the girls 4x400 in 3:54.24.

“I knew we could do it,” Coppedge said. “But coming in all of us really didn’t want to run. We all ran (the 4x200) earlier and we all felt tired. God really does work in strange ways because we got this.”

Southern Regional’s Kate Bergin (2:27.3), Erin Horleman (2:21.6), Chelsea Cox (2:13.6) and Jillian Smith (2:05.4) won the 4x800 relay in a school record 9:07.67. The team was eighth before Cox took over on the third leg and pulled her team into third. Smith put the race to bed right away.

“I was just thinking that every position I pick up is less that Jillian has to do so she doesn’t end up having to run down the whole field,” Cox said. “This is the first time that our coach has put together the four fastest 800 legs all fresh at the same time.”

Smith’s blazing anchor leg earned her the athlete of the meet award named in the honor of the late Louise Mead Tricard . She will headline the girls invitational mile at the Millrose Games Friday.

Medgar Evers endured a physical 4x200 to win in 1:42.23, a tenth of a second ahead of Swenson with. Medgar Evers ran with a team that included Janice Jackson, Shakele Seaton , Rachel Leake and Nyanka Moise.

Moise exchanged elbows with Swenson's anchor leg for most of the back straightaway before her anger provided enough adrendaline to sprint even faster.

"I was not expecting such aggression from them," she said. "I was expecting it would be tough but nothing like that. On the last curve I decided to run wide and try to get around. It didn't matter."

Reach Christopher Hunt at