While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. Twice a week, we'll be releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to be put your mark on history. Tune in!
We look here at the third-oldest record still on the books for the girls. Enjoy!
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Keyon Soley is set to go in the semifinal heat at the National Scholastic Outdoor Championship meet at North Carolina State University in Raleigh in June 1997. The Uniondale junior is in the midst of a spectacular year that has seen her win at indoor Nationals in the long jump while also placing 2nd in the 60m by thousandths of a second and setting state records there in the 55m and 60m that will still be standing 23 years later.
Here at outdoor Nationals, Soley knows she just has to put down a good enough time in semis to secure a nice position for the finals, but on the other hand, on a busy day you never know when you may be at your peak. And it has been a busy day for Soley as she has repeated her 1996 NSOC win in the long jump again at 19-11.75, more than a foot under her season's best, and she is also trying hard to help her Knights 4x100m squad win a national title.
At the gun, Soley blasts off and is on the way to an 11.40 time that chops .15 off the meet record set a year earlier. Before the day is done, she will have gone on to capture the national championship in the 100m at a slightly more laid back 11.70, and to add some icing to her double golds, she'll anchor her Uniondale team to a bronze medal.
But a sprinter's work is never done, and Soley still has more big races to run and jumps to launch before her junior year is done.
Keyon Soley was a champion almost from the start of her career as a freshman sprinter in December of 1994. As her coach Leigh Pollet noted at the time, Soley had a strong aversion to finishing any place other than 1st. Finding her crying inconsolably after a race in her frosh year and thinking she was injured, he asked her where the damage was. She replied, "Oh no, I'm not hurt, I just don't like to lose."
Although everybody has to lose sometimes, Soley did well enough in her freshman year to win the 100m title at 12.01 for the first of four times at Outdoor States and place 2nd in the 200m. As a sophomore she added the long jump to the list of events she would dominate. She also showed she could extend her range a bit indoors as she ran a 37.4 for the 300m, which would be a state record except that it was run on the extra long 250 meter Rockland Community College track, a venue never considered to be optimal for sprinters. She scored a double win at Indoor States with a 7.05 in the 55m and a 19-6.5 long jump. Uniondale also won the 4x200m title. Then it was on to NSIC Nationals where she went with the 200m and collected a 3rd at 24.06.
Soley continued to shine in the spring of her sophomore season as she won at the NY Relays meet with a time of 23.50, which would have been a state record but apparently no wind gauge was set up. She won the States 100m again at 12.28 and may have anchored Uniondale's 4x100m champs in Class A (NYSPHSAA switched from an Open to a three Class format) in June and then made her first trip for Outdoor Nationals at NC State and captured her first national championship with a 19-11.75 long jump. And yes, falling a quarter inch short short of 20 feet in high school or 21 feet in college seemed to happen to Soley with amazing frequency.
With a national title in hand, Soley spent her junior season forcing her way into the national spotlight. Starting at indoor season with the the Bishop Loughlin Games where she flew to a 19-7.5 long jump and 7.11 in the 55m, did 19-7 in the LJ and got the 55m time down to 7.06 at Yale, and then really shone in a battle of the cities meet as she helped New York outscore Boston by 144-117 by running the 55m at an unbelievable 6.6 (apparently hand-timed at the Armory and not included in state records) along with winning the long jump at yes, 19-11.75.
Soley's indoor season continued to blaze at States where she not only set a meet record 6.94 in the 55m but also set the all-time state record of 21-1.5 while repeating as long jump champion. At NSIC, she won her only indoor national championship by besting Mattituck's reigning champ Lynette Wigington in the long jump. Soley also had a showdown with national standout Angela Williams of Chino CA in the 60m. After setting a new national junior class record of 6.82 in the 55m on the way to winning her 60m semis heat, Soley lined up with Williams in the finals. In one those all-time classic battles, Soley got out-leaned by Williams as they both ran a 7.34 for the 60m. Along with the silver medal, Soley came away with all-time best state records for the 55m and 60m.
Soley opened up her storied junior outdoor season by showing her strength in a variety of events by winning the 200m at the New York Relays and then at the Hartford Public Invite she won the long jump and the 100m, going below the 12 second barrier at 11.89. Up in Schenectady at the Eddy Games she set meet records of 11.75 in the 100m and 19-11.5 in the long jump. A week later in late May in a meet in NYC, she went further in the long jump than any NY female athlete has ever gone when she jumped 21-6.75, but the wind gauge was over the limit so no record was recognized. That all set her up for States where she won the 100m for the third time in 11.75 and long jump in 19-7.5 in Class A.
Soley's epic day at the 1997 NSOC that earned her a national championship and all-time state record in the 100m and a repeat title in the long jump preceded a trip to the US Juniors meet at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville University and a repeat sprint match-up with indoors 60m champ Angela Williams. Also in the mix was Aleisha Latimer of Colorado Springs, the all-time national record setter at 55m indoors. Soley finished 3rd at 11.50 behind Williams, who ran the second best US time at that time of 11.14, and Latimer who did 11.42.
At US Juniors, Soley also had a rematch with Wigington in the long jump, and though Soley soared to an outdoor non-wind-aided PR at 20-9, Wigington took the US Juniors title with a state record 20-10.75 distance, a mark that would stand until topped by Lanae-Tava Thomas in 2017. Both she and Wigington qualified for the Pan AM Games in Havana, Cuba about three weeks later, and Soley wrapped up her season by taking the silver medal at 19-9. She may also have helped out with the gold-winning 4x100m team led by Williams and Latimer who had finished 1st and 2nd in the 100m.
Soley still had a lot more to give in her senior year. Her indoor season wrapped up at States with a third win in the 55m at 7.06 and a third gold in the long jump at 20-3. Uniondale also won the 4x200m title. No NSIC could be held that year, so it was straight on to the outdoor season.
In the spring she piled up the usual mountain of wins including a 1st in the Loucks Games 100m at 12.00 and an anchor for Uniondale's winning relay team. In early June she headed to States in somewhat bedraggled condition, however, as she was "kept up" by friends till 6 AM for prom night celebrations on the morning before her first day of competition. She bombed out in the long jump but came back to not only capture her fourth straight 100m championship at 12.03 but she also won her first 200m title with a 24.15 clocking. Altogether Soley won 11 individual States titles with some relays also thrown in during her 4-year career.
Soley's NSOC on June 20, 1998 was not the big affair for her of the previous year. Trying to defend her 100m title, she ran a little ways back of Melissa Barber of Montclair NJ and finished 2nd with a 11.81 time. A week later it was on to US Juniors where she placed 2nd behind Myra Combs of Baton Rouge LA with a huge 20-7.25 long jump to qualify for World Juniors. At the end of July in the World Junior Championship in Annecy, France, Soley had a last burst of high school glory. Though she finished 10th overall in the long jump, her 20-10.25 jump tied Wigington for the state record, and it is still #2 all-time. She then teamed with Combs and the 100m 1st and 2nd place finishers Shakedia Jones of Waukegan IL and Soley's old friend Angela Williams to win the 4x100m gold.
After graduation from Uniondale it was on to UCLA for two years. In her sophomore season she won the 2000 NCAA D1 Indoor long jump championship at 21-4.75 for an all-time PR. She also captured the PAC conference championship with a jump of yes, 20-11.75. For her junior and senior seasons, Soley transferred to the University of Florida. Her top performances for the Gators was a 5th at NCAA Indoors in the long jump at 20-10.5 and a 4th at NCAA Outdoors at yes, 20-11.75.
Before Soley set the 100m record, Brooklyn's Angela Williams was the top sprinter for NY. In 1981 while running for Boys and Girls, she ran a handheld 10.5 time that would have been counted now for record purposes as a 10.74. The next year in 1982 she was with St. Joseph HS, and there she ran a 10.70 electronically recorded time that would remain the top mark for 15 years.