By Christopher Hunt
Jermaine Brown trotted across the finish line after easing down the home stretch while peaking at the clock. It was a smooth run, an easy run.
Then the time popped up – 21.26 seconds, a New York State record while running the top qualifying top in the 200-meter semifinals. It was Smith’s second state record of the day. He also has the top qualifying time headed into the 60-meter dash final after finishing in 6.79 in the semifinal at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships.
“People don’t understand,” said Shaun Dietz, his coach at Medgar Evers in Brooklyn. “He’s running off raw ability right now.”
Brown arrived in Brooklyn from Portmore, Jamaica in October. In Jamaica in attend Calabar High, a world-renowned sprint powerhouse. But Brown pulled his hamstring last year and never competed at Calabar. This season, even Saturday, has been dedicated to preserving his leg. And despite that, he lowered the 60-meter state record set of 6.80 by Kenneth Baxter (New York) at NSIC in 2000 and the 200 state record by of 21.43 by Jermaine Stafford (Franklin, Rochester) at NSIC in 1994 when the meet was in Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome.
“Everything we’ve been doing has been to protect his leg,” Dietz said. “We haven’t done anything fast yet. It’s just mostly weights and strength.”
Brown said he can’t even stretch properly because of the pain in his hamstring and admitted that he felt some pain going around the turns in the 200 semifinal.
“Today I was running the corners and it was very stressful,” Brown said. “You could see my making up my face and I never make up my face in races.”
Brown, as a 15-year old freshman at Bridgeport High in Jamaica, ran 21.25 outdoors in the 200. Dietz even drew comparisons with the Jamaican World 100 and 200 world record-holder Usain Bolt, who ran 20.61 outdoors to win the World Junior championship at age 15. Brown though, was competing in his first-ever indoor 200.
He said he plans to run 20.5 Sunday regardless of how his leg feels. Dietz said he gave Brown orders to stop if he feels any significant pain during the race. Brown is now the favorite in the 60 and 200.
“I’m not focusing on the 60,” Brown said. “That start is a little faster and those guys have been doing it a long time. But anything can happen. If I have a good start, it’s going to be a problem.”
Regarding the 200, he said: “If this leg holds up and I’m fine, there’s no reason I can’t run 20.5. I’ll drag it along running one leg if I have to.”
Dietz contends that what Brown has shown so far is only a glimpse of what he’s capable of.
“There’s never been a race where he can just go out there and run,” Dietz said. “We always have to pay special attention to the hamstring. … A lot of folks think that he’s maxed out for this season. I don’t think so. You really haven’t seen anything yet.”
New York Notes: Freshman Lateisha Philson of Cardozo is the second-fastest qualifier headed into the 60-meter hurdles final. She ran 8.66 in the semifinal Saturday. Brooklyn’s Janice Jackson has the third-fastest qualifying time in 8.67. … Wayne Seaton of Fordham Prep finished third in the pentathlon with 3,644 points, just 34 points out of second-place. He also anchored Fordham Prep’s national record shuttle hurdles relay Friday and led off the Rams second-place sprint medley. … Bronxville’s Henrietta Miers, Amelia Phillips, Tori Flannery and Cailtin Hudson finished second in the 4x1-mile relay, finishing in 21:06.99. ... Cardozo sophomore Chamique Francis, one of the top contenders in the girls 400, was disqualified for cutting to the inside lane too early in the heats.
Harrison senior Claudio Delli Carpini was the last of 24 athletes to advance to the Saturday 60 hurdles semifinal. But he ran 8.03 in the semis, which makes him the second-fastest qualifier for the final round. His time is a Section 1 record.
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.