By Christopher Hunt
UNIONDALE – Garden City’s Brendan Creighton remembered when he was a freshman, watching the 400-meter hurdles at the Derrick Adkins Classic. He remembered standing near the finish line and watching the runners whiz by as he snapped his head from one direction to the other.
“I’m going to with this race, here, one day,” he told himself.
Three years later, one day became Monday. Creighton was one of the last men lasting in the 400 hurdles, winning in 58.1 seconds at the Derrick Adkins Classic at Mitchel Field Sports Complex. He outlasted a field that saw Westbury’s Jabari Redd fall on the first turn and Uniondale’s Nate Mercer drop out after the second hurdle. Leighton was in an outer lane so the carnage didn’t affect him.
“I just kind of focused hurdle to hurdle,” Creighton said. “I thought someone hit a hurdle hard. I didn’t know what happened. I just tried not to let anything distract me.”
Leighton said he had never met 1996 Olympic gold-medalist Derrick Adkins, who handed out the awards, although he’s seen Adkins around. “I’m shy,” Creighton said. But when the time came he made sure to ask for any race tips from former 400-meter hurdles Olympic and world champ who is also the director of track and field at the Armory. In the meantime though, Leighton was pleased with his own progress so far.
“It gets me excited for the rest of the season,” he said.
Inevitably or maybe fittingly the hurdles turned out to be one of the best races of the day. Just that it wasn’t the 400 hurdles. Freshman Latiesha Philson of Cardozo won the girls 100 hurdles in 14.2, the fastest time in the state on an afternoon when you couldn’t hide from the wind.
“It was at my back. It was in my face. Everywhere,” Philson said.
She said she thought she could have run better and knows she can once the sun finally shines on a track meet.
“My just waiting for the weather to make some progress with me,” she said.
Philson and her Cardozo teammates also ruled the relays . Tessa West, Chamique Francis, Ahtyana Johnson and Philson won the sprint medley relay in 1:49.5. Philson, Francis, West and Shanice Moton won the 4x200 in 1:42.5. Then West, Alexis Mapson, Francis and Johnson won the 4x100 in 48.9 in the team’s first time competing in what was historically a Long Island meet.
“We really liked this meet,” Johnson said. “The competition was good. We really liked the awards (athletes were given trophies, plaques and roses). This was a really good meet for us.”
Roosevelt (L.I.) was equally dominant in the sprint relays. Franklin Brown, Jalon Edwards, James Mcclenic and Dale McDonald won the 4x100 in 43.1. Stephan Linton, Edwards, McDonald and Mcclenic won the 4x200 in 1:31.1, three seconds ahead of the closest finisher.
McDonald, a junior, also won the 400 in 49.3 ahead of Antoine Drummond of Freeport who finished in 50.5.
“I had some hamstring problems and my coach didn’t want me to run too hard,” he said. “I kind of didn’t listen though.”
Charlene Lipsey won the girls 400 in 56.4 followed by Hempstead teammate Donna-Lee Hylton in 57.2.
“I just took it out really hard,” Lipsey said. “The wind hit me and I knew it I tried to fight it I’d be dead so I just relaxed and tried to push hard at the end.”
Lipsey said she would be running more 400 and mile races this season and wouldn’t run many 800-meter races, her specialty. Lipsey is entered in the invitational mile at Penn Relays in two weeks.
“That way I’ll be ready for the 800,” she said. “In my mind, I’m looking at nationals. It’s all preparation.”
Lipsey finished second in the 800 at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships, dropping a close race to McAuley’s Phyllis Francis just before the finish. Roslyn junior Emily Lipari, who won the mile at the Nike Indoor Nationals, won the 1,500 in 4:39.5. Mary Kate Anselmini of Ward Melville was second in 4:42.2.
Like Lipsey, Lipari’s race served as some sprint work for a longer race. Lipari said she’d be more focused on the 3,000 this season, which she plans to run at Penn Relays. But all the extra mileage didn’t take anything off her speed.
“I thought I was going to feel a little weird,” she said. “But I felt pretty good.”
Winning wasn’t the only highlight of her day though.
“I usually love this meet,” Lipari said. “I love meeting Derrick Adkins. I’m a pretty big fan.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.