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 put your mark on history. Tune in!
We look here at the thirteenth-oldest record still on the books for the boys. Enjoy!
- - -
Elzie Coleman of Newburgh Free Academy is way out west in mid June of 2004 and getting ready for some heavy action at the Golden West meet in Sacramento CA. Stacked up against him in an elite field of the 400m are guys from around the country who can go 47-something, and maybe a few like Bobby McCoy of Klein Forest TX and Keith Hinnant of Bay Shore who can muster a 46 on a good day.
Coleman has the US #5 time at 46.25 run at an Arcadia Invite win in California early on April 8, and in an interesting year that has seen the previous two months of his outdoor season eliminated due to eligibility issues, that's about it except for a 3rd place at the Mobile Challenge on April 3rd and a win in the 47s at North Rockland's Red Raider meet in mid April. Because of the win at Arcadia from way back, Coleman may be seen as the favorite here, maybe even a guy who can do 45 on a good day.
At a Golden West meet that usually features talent more from the west, two NYers head to the lanes with Coleman for the start of the race. Bay Shore's Hinnant placed 3rd behind Coleman at last year's States 400m and was the winner in the 2004 States D1 800m, and Ian Morgan of Amityville is coming off a 200m win at States. So maybe there's a little NY camaraderie here.
At the gun, Coleman is off with a powerful stride that makes it clear that he has used the last two months without HS meets to stay in shape. Blasting to the finish, he breaks the line at 45.93 slicing .16 off NY's 27-year-old 400m record. Hinnant also has a nice day with a 46.58 for a huge personal best.
The season is not over for Coleman. Before it wraps up with a win at the Empire State Games in late July, he will have a showdown with an even more elite group of 400 guys at the Adidas National championship, a week after Golden West. More on that later.
There was never much doubt that Elzie Coleman had a huge amount of running talent. In his sophomore year, though he DQ'ed in the 400m at outdoor States, he went to the Adidas Outdoor Nationals in Raleigh NC and finished 5th with a time of 46.97, making him the 8th fastest NY HS runner ever.
His junior year brought Coleman to even greater heights as he easily picked up the outdoor States 400m title in 46.76 and then posted a 46..33 at AOC Nationals to finish 2nd behind only Xavier Carter of Palm Bay FL.
Everything seemed to have come together for him for his senior 2004 track seasons. A highly regarded defensive back on Newburgh's Section 9 Class AA champion football team, he was a guy a lot of colleges had their eye on. He went undefeated during the indoor season and captured the 600m title at indoor States.
But for indoors, the 400m was the distance he really owned. After a season's warm-up win at the Hillhouse Invite in New Haven CT in December, he won the Hispanic Games at the Armory in early January in a national record 46.58. That performance earned him an invite to the prestigious Simplot Games in high altitude Pocatello ID in mid February where he lowered his NR mark to 45.92. He couldn't quite equal that time at the National Scholastic Indoor Championship in March, but his 46.12 time earned him a national championship by 1 1/2 seconds. His exploits earned him the honor of being named High School Indoor Track Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News. No US athlete has come close to breaking Coleman's indoor records in the years since 2004.
The outdoor season is usually much tougher than indoor season as competition revs up around the country. A trip down to Mobile AL on April 3 dealt him his first loss of the season, but it seemed like mainly a relaxed warmup as his 47.28 time was far off his usual level during indoors. But the race's winner Cedric Goodman of Newman GA blazed a 45.94 that was just .02 behind Coleman's indoor record.
Five days later Coleman was out in LA for the Arcadia Invite and won easily with a much better 46.25 time. Back home he ran at the Red Raider Invite in mid April and needed just a 47.70 time to take the win. And that would be the extent of his season for Newburgh in the regular season.
Though NY HS competitions were over for Coleman, he still continued his training. His time at Arcadia was good enough to earn him an invite to the Golden West meet. Despite the long hiatus from top competition, Coleman ran almost the exact same time as his 45.92 indoor 400m NR, running a 45.93 that would set the all-time state record. A week later he took on another top field at AOC Nationals. The winner was 2008 Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt at a stunning 45.38, with Mobile winner Goodman in 2nd and Coleman taking 3rd at 46.30. Later on in the summer at the Empire State Games, Coleman would win the 400m title very comfortably.
Following his graduation from Newburgh, Coleman was recruited by Mississippi State.
The owner of the NY 400m record for 27 years before Coleman ran at Golden West was Anthony Tufariello who ran for Hewlett on Long Island in the mid 1970s. Tufariello ran a 46.09 time at AAU Juniors on June 18, 1977 that appears to have been the second best ever US time back then behind only Tony Darden of Norristown PA in 1976.