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 ninth-oldest record still on the books for the girls. Enjoy!
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Whitney Fountain is starting to have some fun, even if she is doing the thing she feared most in the pentathlon. For years she has been acclaimed as one of the most versatile track athletes ever seen in New York as the star of Christopher Columbus HS. She has blinding speed, big leaping ability, and despite her small 5'2" frame, she can also fly over hurdles. But it's the fear of that one final event in the pentathlon that has kept her from testing out her ability to prove that she has, in her own words, "Whatever it takes to be the best."
Long jump? Got that, #3 in the state and she once went almost 21 feet. 100m hurdles? In the top 10 in NY, so good enough. High jump? Will end off the year #3 there too, so that's no problem. Shot put? Not one of her events, but she knows that she can send it out around 30 feet in practice, and that's respectable.
But then there's that 800m race that gets tagged on at the end of an exhausting day, and as Fountain admits, she's had problems even thinking about that one. "It always stopped me. I didn't actually think I would make it around the track." Fountain is one of the best ever sprinters who's terrified of dying on that second lap around the track. Whether it's a rational fear is open to question however since she has done very well in a bunch of 400H races during this 2010 season, and many would argue that a lap with ten hurdles is a lot harder than two laps without them.
But on this day on May 19th at Dewitt Clinton HS for the PSAL Bronx Boro Championship against four other athletes, everything has been working for Fountain. She's won the first four events of the pentathlon with big performances on the way to PRs in the 100H, shot put, and high jump, and a season's best in the long jump. She has a gigantic 1138 point lead going into the last event and could jog backwards in the 800m and still win by a a lot.
But winning and doing it by a lot has never meant that much to Fountain, who has been at a level way above other track athletes her age since she started as a seven-year-old. It's the competition that matters, the chance to measure yourself against other top athletes that drives her, and here it is Williamsville South's Alyissa Hasan she's battling with. Hasan graduated five years earlier with a state record of 3614 points in pentathlon, and maybe even more impressively she had almost that many, 3521, as an 8th grader in 2001.
Fountain has 3049 points as she begins the 800m, and to break Hasan's record she needs to run 2:40.7 or faster. That's not a given for her since she's never competed in the 800m or practiced it along with other four pentathlon events. Three of the other competitors here do around 3 minutes in the 800m, so she can't hang with them. But Dewitt Clinton's Brittney Adams is in 2nd place and she has gone under 2:20, and she leads Fountain around the track at a strong pace. As the two pentathletes hit the top of the home straightaway shoulder to shoulder, Fountain knows she has this 800m. A final sprint takes her to the finish first in 2:26.8 for 734 points and a total of 3783, breaking Hasan's record by 169.
A jubilant Fountain says, "This is fun for me now. I've proved myself." Indeed, and since it's so much fun, lets add two more events -- the 200m and the javelin -- and get set for the heptathlon at the USATF Juniors meet in a month. There Fountain will finish 3rd behind two older athletes with another NY record of 5197 points. Neither the pentathlon and heptathlon record has been approached during the last ten years.
The last event in the PSAL Bronx Boro Championship pentathlon -- 2010
Whitney Fountain got an early start in track. In 3rd grade she was already competing in meets that included younger runners like the Colgate Women's Games series at the Armory. Starting off for a few years with the Burning Spear Track Club and then for a while under the guidance of her mother Kiya Fountain and her husband Johnelous White, Fountain was making a name for herself at an early age. By the time she was 11, her training fell into the hands of the Don Potash, who was the coach of dozens of world class athletes from the NYC area over more than three decades. Fountain zoomed to higher levels under Potash's training regimens, and entering high school, she was already running and jumping at a level well beyond most other athletes in the NYC's public schools.
Fountain had big goals to compete with the nation's best, and her desire to find a high school that would be agreeable to letting her continue her training under Potash led her to Pelham Prep, part of the Christopher Columbus campus in the Bronx. Coach Yvonne Torrente of the Explorers was far more willing than most coaches in the PSAL to letting Fountain split her weekly workouts between Potash and the Columbus team. The exposure that Fountain got through meets revolving around PSAL meets at the Armory was invaluable, and her club training prepped her to deliver big results.
Fountain's freshman year at Columbus was limited to a handful of meets due to a nagging hamstring injury. Sophomore year though was a breakout time. Indoors she jumped over 19 feet to win the PSAL Bronx Boro LJ title, and at the PSAL championship she swept the 55m dash, the 55m hurdles, and the long jump. After placing 3rd in both the 55m and long jump at Eastern States, she picked up a 2nd in the 55m and 3rd in the long jump at States. During outdoor season in 2008 she was 2nd in the long jump and 4th in the 200m at the big Loucks meet, and then swept to a variety of wins in the LJ, 100m, 200m and 100H at the Manhattan\Bronx Boro championship and PSAL Frosh\Soph meet. She ended her PSAL season there to focus on the USATF Juniors action.
The decision to skip the PSAL championship and switch over to the USATF Juniors meets was a tough choice for Fountain, but it was a path she would follow again in the years ahead in the search for the best competition that would push her to the max. During her HS years she would attend only three PSAL City championships and just one indoor and one outdoor States meet, winning no States titles even though she set state records in a couple of events. Her absences from the PSAL championships drew fire from some of the league's coaches who felt that she and other elite athletes who were using the PSAL to promote themselves had a duty to be at the title meet.
Fountain and Columbus Coach Torrente saw things a bit differently. The Explorers' star brought a lot of publicity to the sport and did her share of races in a grueling PSAL schedule that sometimes just ground down top athletes with its gauntlet of tough relays, sprints, and jumps events. Fountain was the consummate teammate on the Explorers, helping not only to recruit members to the team but also sharing her knowledge of training methods to make younger athletes like Columbus's future star Strymar Livingston go faster. As the lone coach on the team, Torrente appreciated not only all the assistance she got from Fountain but also her bring-it-on attitude. "She'll run anywhere as long as she's challenged," said Torrente, but Fountain's need for top competition would continuously push her toward top meets outside of the PSAL's tight schedule in the years ahead.
In June of 2008, Fountain ended the year running at the USATF Junior Qualifier meet on Staten Island that was held on the same day as the PSAL championship, she swept through the Intermediate level events against little competition, winning the 100m in a fast 11.88, 200m, 100H, and also the long jump in the longest distance ever by an NY athlete at 20-11.25 to that point, though it was not a state record because it was wind-aided. She did not end up going to the USATF National meet in July, but did finish the year with the nation's top LJ during the spring.
During her junior indoor track season in 2009, Fountain used the Colgate Women's Games series of meets through January to push down her sprint times in the 55m and 200m distances. At the PSAL Bronx Boro meet, she won the long jump, 55H, and ran a 38.22 time in the 300m that was the fastest in the nation on the year and second best at the time ever in the PSAL. She won the Eastern States 200m by almost a second at 23.77, second fastest in the nation and fastest ever by a PSAL athlete. She then raised some eyebrows when she skipped the lighter competition at the PSAL championship to run on the same day with a group of top US athletes at the Gibson Relays in Jamaica, running lead-off on a 4x200m squad that placed 3rd. Back in the US, she took on California's Ashton Purvis, the top sprinter in the nation at the National Scholastic Indoor Championship. Though she finished 2nd in the 200m, Fountain was pulled to a great 23.82 time.
Outdoors in 2009, Fountain had a year that more conformed to standard HS athletes, including a stint at Penn Relays where she placed 5th in the long jump. After winning the PSAL Bronx LJ title again with a 20-1.25, she went to the PSAL championship and swept the LJ, 400H, and then the 200m in a 23.44 time that was a new league record and second fastest ever in the state. She competed only in the 200m at States, and she had a great a series of battles with Amherst's Ashley Fields who ran the nation's 10th best time to edge Fountain. At the end of June She traveled out to Michigan to compete in the USATF World Trials and placed 3rd in the LJ at 19-0 and also ran in the 400H prelims but did not make finals.
Fountain's senior indoor season in 2010 was similar to the previous winter campaign. She again used the Colgate Women's Games series to warm up in January, and she the headed to the Valentine Classic at Boston University in mid February to sweep the 55m at 7.00 and the 200m at 23.60. A week later at PSAL Bronx she won the 55m in a US #1 time of 6.89, the high jump (new event for her), and ran the US #1 time of 38.10 to win the 300m. A few days later at Eastern States she was way faster in the 200m prelims than anyone at 24.03 but scratched from finals, which were won by 2010 States 300m champ Kyle Plante of Colonie at 24.25. Finally, again at NSIC Nationals, Fountain had another showdown in the 200m with Ashton Purvis, and again the California sprinter repeated her 2009 win, but Fountain stayed close enough to set an all-time NY best mark of 23.48, a record that still stands today.
The senior outdoor season allowed Fountain some great opportunities to show off her versatility as she committed to Clemson University. She worked on the 400H, taking a 3rd at NY Relays and 4th at Penn Relays, and she swept the Loucks Games sprints with wins in the 100m and 200m. But as the PSAL Bronx Boro championship approached, she finally gave in to the urge to see what she could do in the multi-event pentathlon. After spending some time practicing the shot put to balance out her strengths in the 100H, long jump, and high jump, she decided to give it a go. With everything clicking on May 19, 2010 at Dewitt Clinton HS, Fountain blasted to a 3783 total. Three days later, she won the PSAL Bronx's titles in the 100m and 200m. She followed a fairly similar routine for the PSAL championship as she posted the second best ever total in the pentathlon at 3623 (more than 6 seconds slower in the 800m being the biggest drop from PSAL Bronx), and then a few days later won the 200m and had a PR of 59.88 to win the 400H. PSAL head Dwayne Burnett acclaimed her "the most dominating performer we've ever seen."
Fountain's HS career wasn't quite through yet, as she had one more state record to set. After practicing throwing the javelin at the Empire Games in mid June, Fountain headed out to USATF Juniors at Drake University in Des Moines IA to try her hand at the seven-event heptathlon, which adds the 200m and javelin to the pentathlon's five. After a relatively strong first day of action in the 100H, high jump, shot put, and 200m, Fountain was sitting in 2nd place and had a strong chance to go to World Juniors. Weak long jump and javelin marks on the second day pushed her back to 3rd where she finished despite an inspiring 2:17.0 time in the 800m that helped propel her to a state record of 5197 points, a mark that still stands today.
During her years at Clemson, Fountain again showed her athletic versatility, finishing ranked among the Tigers' top 10 all-time best in the pentathlon, heptathlon, 60m, high jump, long jump, and new addition, the triple jump. She was a mainstay on relay squads and helped lead Clemson to the ACC indoor and outdoor titles in her years of eligibility, which included 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. She was the ACC heptathlon champ in 2013. She graduated with a degree in sociology and then went on for a master's in youth leadership development. She has served as a track coach at Clemson and Tennessee Tech and is now the associate head coach at Tennessee State.
Previous to Fountain, the NY pentathlon record was held by Alyissa Hasan of Williamsville South who first came to the nation's attention as an 8th grader in 2001 when she broke the national HS record in the pentathlon at 3512. During the outdoor States meet in Hasan's senior season of 2005, she upped her mark to 3614 with very strong 100H and shot put marks. The next year she broke the Notre Dame school record in the event.