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 sixth-oldest record still on the books for the girls. Enjoy!
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The Boys and Girls 4x400m relay squad is on the move in 2008. Star runner Nadonnia Rodriques has gotten the stick for the third leg of the seeded section at Nike Outdoor Nationals on a rain-swept track at North Carolina A&T as a Saturday evening approaches. In what is likely a gallant but futile quest for victory for her Kangaroos squad, Rodriques is chasing Afia Charles of the Blazin' Raiders team, which is also known as Eleanor Roosevelt HS of MD during the regular season.
Roosevelt is by far the top ranked team in the country in both the 4x400m and 4x800m, though here at NON, they are putting all their top relay resources into the 4x400m. These newly morphed Blazin' Raiders have already run a 3:37.16 time in a win at Penn Relays that is third fastest ever in the US. In the Championship of America race final at Penn Relays in April, Roosevelt ran more than 4 1/2 seconds faster than Boys and Girls, though Rodriques had the fastest time of 53.2 on any of the legs recorded there. Here at NON, the Roosevelt super team includes Doris Anwanyu who finished 2nd in the 400H, Tasha Stanley who was 6th in the 800m, and Elan Hilaire and Afia Charles who were 9th and 13th in the 400m. All of the Raiders are capable of running 54 second legs.
But for this leg, Rodriques has the advantage as she tries to carry her team on her very strong shoulders. An hour and a half ago, she won the 400m title with a US #1 time of 52.86, and she is trying to catch a runner who finished 13th in the event and almost three seconds off Rodriques's pace. As always, the goal for the NY state champion Boys and Girls team is to have a big lead going into the anchor leg and just hold on. Deandra Nelson and Megan Gillespie have kept the Kangaroos close to the Raiders with 54+ legs, but as Rodriques gets the exchange she is about 2 seconds and more than fifteen meters behind Charles.
Bursting into the first turn and pumping hard through the rain on the back stretch, Rodriques is on Charles' heels as they enter the far turn. At full throttle, she has no choice but to swing a little ways out on the turn to take the lead and charge down the home stretch for the pass to her anchor Hadassah Bruno and a time of around 2:43 through three legs.
The Kangaroos' lead will be 10 meters going into the last leg, but Raiders' anchor Tasha Stanley is among the top mid distance runners in the US, and she regains the lead for the Raiders and brings them home in a season's best of 3:37.02, a time that still ranks them as the 5th fastest team ever. Bruno stays as close as she can to Stanley on the final circuit because she knows that more than a 2nd place is at stake here. Boys and Girls finishes in at 3:39.77, a state record that edges AP Randolph's 3:39.90 from 7 years earlier in 2001. And yes, 12 years later, the record in the rain still stands.
As the track seasons started in 2008, the girls side of the Boys and Girls team from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn had a lot to look forward to. The PSAL school had built a strong track tradition through the years. Starting with its first States individual win on the girls side in 1982 and relay win in 1988 with a 4x800 title followed the next year with victories in both the 4x400m and 4x800m, Boys and Girls was in midst of a big revival after a lull in the 1990s. In 2001 Boys and Girls 4x800m team had set a meet record at Nike Outdoor Nationals, and the next year they set a national record in the event. More recently, the Kangaroos had won the 4x400m at outdoors States for the previous two years and had also won it at indoors States in 2007. Three of the members of the 2007 squad were back, as Nadonnia Rodriques, Hadassah Bruno, and Deandra Nelson were returning for their senior years, and they were hoping to improve on 2nd place finishes at the National Scholastic Indoor Championship and Nike Outdoor Nationals, the second one without Rodriques.
Rodriques had gained special prominence in 2007 after winning the 400m title at States in 2007, and she had run an NY #1 time of 53.82 in 2007 at the Loucks meet. Both Rodriques and Bruno had been winning state championships on the Kangaroos 4x400m squad since their sophomore seasons, and they were joined by Nelson in 2007. But a relay squad needs four members and also a strong fifth runner to be effective at keeping up team strength for the preliminary, sometimes semifinal, and final heats at meets. For the Kangaroos, the additions were senior Megan Gillespie and junior Kenesha Abrams.
The indoor season in 2008 was a big sign of things to come for Boys and Girls. In February Rodriques ran a 52.83 in the 400m at the Hall of Fame meet, the 4th fastest in the nation ever indoors and also a state record. At States, Rodriques won the 300m in a sizzling 38.72, and Boys and Girls repeated in the 4x400m easily in 4:00.19, about three seconds slower than their winning time in 2007. There was nothing slow about the team's performance at the NSIC championship as Rodriques ran just a hundredth of a second off her state record to win the 400m in 52.84, and she and Bruno, Gillespie and Nelson won the 4x200m title in 1:40.51. A dropped baton in the 4x400m cost them a win there, but Rodrigues almost brought them all the way back on her anchor leg for a 2nd place at 3:50.41.
In the outdoor season, Boys and Girls had its first encounter at Penn Relays with an Eleanor Roosevelt team that would put together one of the best relay seasons ever. The Kangaroos finished second in their heat in prelims with a time of 3:40.17, and in the finals they were further back at 3:41.74 and finished 5th, way behind Roosevelt's crushing 3:37.16.
Boys and Girls team had a big meet at Loucks a few weeks later as Rodriques won the 400m and led wins in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. In June at States, Rodriques was suffering some pain in a knee and decided to enter just the 200m, which she won with a 24.72. The team ran a relaxed time of 3:56.75 in the D1 race on Friday, but the next day they ran a 3:50.50 to capture the Federation title.
The focus all season had been the Nationals meet. On Saturday afternoon, June 21, 2008, Rodriques captured the 400m title with a time of 52.86, sixth fastest in NY history. Shortly afterward the Boys and Girls 4x400m squad lined up for its showdown with Eleanor Roosevelt. Though placing 2nd, the Kangaroos were pulled to an NY state record of 3:39.77.
Before Boys and Girls set the record, the AP Randolph team held NY's top mark of 3:39.90, set at the 2001 Penn Relays. That team consisted of Natasha O'Connor, Yendy Gilchrist, Desiree Moorer, and Natasha Hastings. Running for the University of South Carolina, Hastings won the 400m at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in 2007, and she ran in the preliminary rounds for the US gold medal winning 4x400m teams in 2008 and 2016 Olympics.