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!
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Kadecia Baird is next to last and there's less than half of her 400m race to go as she comes off the final turn in lane 3 at World Juniors. It's Friday night under the lights here on the fourth day of action in Barcelona on July 13, 2012, and Baird is in the spotlight. But she's not panicking. She knows that good things come to those who wait --- as long as they don't wait too long.
The time for waiting is over for Baird, and now it's closing time. She runs at her own pace, and she runs smartly like a veteran, even if she is by far the youngest runner in the race among the 19-year-old-and-under juniors from around the world. She's gained a lot of maturity here starting from Day 1 on Tuesday evening when she began her World Juniors in her other event -- the 100m -- by qualifying for semifinals from the prelim heats. This is her fifth race here, and she has her sights on winning a medal for her birth country, Guyana, and she has her nation's hopes wrapped around her.
During the school year, Baird runs for Medgar Evers HS of Brooklyn where she has been living for many years. A month ago she was the winner in the 400m at New Balance Outdoor Nationals with a time that placed her third all-time among NY HS athletes. Still, in this race all but one of the other runners have run faster than her, and Baird has not been mentioned in any meet previews as a likely finalist, let alone a medalist among these more experienced runners.
Two days ago Baird was the 7th fastest runner in the preliminaries at 53.29 to easily qualify for the semifinals. After bowing out of the 100m in the semis on the morning of Day 2, she got a confidence booster by posting the third fastest time behind the two American runners, Illinois University's NCAA champ Ashley Spencer and University of South Carolina's Erika Rucker, to earn lane 3.
Out of view in race videos for the first half of the race, now as she shoots off the turn Baird knows she has the speed to catch many of the six runners ahead of her who went out fast in lanes 4 through 8 and are now starting to fade back. Charging home down the final straightaway, she keeps her shoulders and arms working hard as she picks off runners one-by-one and passes the defending champ Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas for a medal spot. Spencer powering out in lane 5 is too far ahead to catch, but Baird closes with Rucker in lane 4 and gets the lean at the finish to take the silver medal in a time of 51.04. Baird's performance is described in the news from one T&F site as "the most unexpected medal at World Juniors."
The mark is 5th fastest ever for a HSer nationally and is tops by .71 for NY. No one from the state has come within 1 1/2 seconds of the mark since, and Baird still stands 5th best ever among the US HS runners.
Kadecia Baird grew up in Guyana but later moved to Brooklyn to live with her mother Ulele before her high school years. Medgar Evers in the Crown Heights section of the boro became the home for her track feats, and though Baird would become celebrated for her individual feats on the track in NYC and internationally, it was as a vital member of the Cougars' relay teams that she first made her mark.
Medgar Evers was a rising track program about five years into its surge upward in the PSAL ranks under coaches Shaun Dietz and Nicola Martial in 2010 when Baird joined the team as a freshman. Martial was also from Guyana and as a former star runner would provide Baird with a great role model and supporter in the years ahead.
As with all her track seasons with the Cougars, Baird would get in shape with some endurance work during the fall as a key member of the XC teams, though Medgar Evers was not that strong in the sport. Baird's strength was the sprints where she would rank among the top NY freshmen in the 55m and 300m. At the PSAL Bronx Boro championship, she won the 300m title. She was 3rd in the 300m in the prelims at the PSAL City championship, but was then pulled to run a leg of the 4x200m team that won that won the PSAL title. She did not travel to the States championship with the relay squad that won the team's first indoor girls relay title and instead stayed home to run with a younger group of Cougars the next day at the PSAL Frosh\Soph championships, helping to build the ties that would carry Medgar Evers to many wins in the years ahead.
By outdoor season Baird was already establishing herself as a force in the PSAL even though injuries would sideline her for part of the season. Still, she won the 100m in the Brooklyn Boro championships and then at PSAL City placed 2nd in the event along with helping the 4x400 team win the title. Neither she nor the 4x4 squad went to the States meet, however, as the team had its eyes set on the New Balance Nationals title just ten days after the PSAL championship. There while the Cougar guys' star sprinter Jermaine Brown won the 200m national title, Baird captured her first NBON win in the 200m on the girls side in the Emerging Elite category with a time of 24.48.
Although Baird was coming up as one of the top sprinters in NY in 2011, during her sophomore season she was joined by fellow Cougar Sandrae Farquharson, a junior who specialized in the middle distances. At the New Balance Collegiate Invite in early February, the two teamed with seniors Sheniece Daphness and Nyanka Joseph to set a state record of 1:37.73 while winning the 4x200m relay. At the PSAL City indoor championship, Farquharson finished 1st in the 300m with the best time in NY while Baird took 2nd. But again, relays were the focus for Medgar Evers, and neither runner ran in the 300m while putting their energy into winning a repeat 4x200. A week later at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships, senior Shakele Seaton joined Baird, Farquharson, and Joseph in winning the national title in the 4x400m relay while setting another state record at 3:42.67.
Outdoor season in 2011 for Medgar Evers started with a trip down to Columbia SC for the Taco Bell Classic where Baird won the 200m, Farquharson took the 400m, and the Cougars swept the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Later on at the PSAL championship, the Cougars ran up against a rising Benjamin Cardozo team lead by sisters Chamique and Claudia Francis along with Sabrina Southerland and Alexis Panisse. Baird finished 2nd in the 200m while the Cougars got a 1-2-3 finish in the 400m from Farquharson, Joseph, and Seaton. But in the relays, Medgar Evers took the 4x100m title but lost to Cardozo in the 4x400m.
At States, Baird scratched from the 200m while Farquharson beat Colonie's Kyle Plante for the 400m title. Baird did run on the Cougars' state champion 4x400m team but not for the the 2nd place 4x100m squad. Three relay squads went to NBON and Baird led the 4x100m squad to a championship as they ran a 46.26 for an all-time NY third best. Baird was also on the Cougars' 4th place 4x400m team, and a 2nd place 800m sprint medley relay squad helped Medgar Evers finish 3rd in the scoring at Nationals.
Halfway through her HS career, Baird was about to see some big things happen for her in 2012. Indoor season was a little switched around as Baird focused on the 300m and ran the US #1 time and third best ever in NY with a 37.95 at the NB Collegiate Invite during an undefeated season in the event, though she did not run it at States. She also ran a series of 400m races during the season. With her teammate Farquharson not in relays, the best the Cougar could do at States was a 3rd in the 4x100m. At NSIC, Farquharson was in the 200m and took a 6th, while Baird moved up to the 400m and finished 4th in 54.74. A young Cougar 4x100m squad led by Baird was 3rd.
All was now set for Baird's historic junior outdoor season that would see her go undefeated in the 100m, 200m, and 400 during the high school season. The Cougars also had some strong new legs to back her up as junior Paige Thompson Charles, freshman Brenessa Thompson, and sophomore Ashley Tasher joined her on the 4x100m relay. Starting off again with wins at Taco Bell, Baird started smashing through milestones as she broke the 24.0 barrier in the 200m with a 23.76 at NY Relays and the 53.0 barrier in the 400m with a 52.62 at the Loucks Games while also helping Medgar Evers break the meet record in the 4x100m at 46.57. She set a PR with an 11.68 in the 100m at the PSAL Brooklyn Boro meet, and then pulled off a stunner by sweeping the 100m, 200, and 400m at the PSAL championship. Ironically in a year that featured a historic 400m for her, Baird dropped the event at States to focus on sweeping through six races in the 100m and 200m on her way to golds in both, with best times of 11.63 in the 100m prelims and 23.57 in the 200m finals. Medgar Evers finished 2nd in the 4x100m D1 at 47.75 without Baird, but with her in the finals the Cougars ran away from the field in 46.70.
The 2012 season was still not over for Baird as she headed for national and international competitions. At NBON she had the best time in the 200m prelims by almost a second at 23.26. She scratched from the 200m finals though to focus on the 400m. A blazing 52.14 time earned her the national title and a win by more than a second over Kyle Plante. The win also got her a spot at the IAAF World championships in July as Guyana sent her to Barcelona as their representative in both the 200m and 400m. There were also some discussions with the Guyanese sports federation about whether they would send Baird to the 2012 Olympics in London since she was their only athlete with a qualifying time in the 400m, but the funding fell through.
At the IAAF championship Baird was little known and not considered a big factor in either of her races. She first managed to fight her way through to the 200m semifinals where she posted a PR of 23.26. She was more at home in the 400m as she stayed within her game plan and charged home for the all-time NY best at 51.04 and a silver medal.
Baird's senior season was a little less glossy but still had huge amounts of glitter. Her indoor season looked to be in jeopardy after she appeared to pull her hamstring in January at the Hispanic Games, but she returned for the NB Collegiate meet in early February and ran a 37.54 to set an all-time NY record in the 300m. She won the 55m with a 7.06 PR and then the 300m, and ran a leg for Medgar Evers 4x100 winners at the PSAL championships. At States she won the 55m at 7.08 and qualified for the 300m finals, but she scratched to join the Cougars 4x200m squad that had finished 2nd in prelims, and in finals they knocked 4 seconds off their time to take the title. A week later at NSIC the competition was very tough. Baird got 4th in the 400m at 54.74, and both the 4x200m and 4x400m teams finished 3rd with US #3 times on the season.
The outdoor season for Baird started with a trip to Jamaica for the huge CARIFTA Games for Caribbean athletes. She placed 3rd in the 400m at 54.28. She suffered a rare outdoor 400m defeat at home at Loucks when she was beaten by Olivia Baker of Columbia NJ, though her 53.69 time was very good. Again she pulled off the astonishing trio of wins in the 100m, 200m, and 400m in the PSAL championship. Again she elected to run the shorter sprints, winning the 100m in 11.63, tying her for NY #3 all-time best, and the 200m in 23.69. The Cougars 4x100m squad of Baird, Thompson, Thompson Charles, and sophomore Martina Brown broke the States meet record with a time of 46.49.
The wrap-up to Baird's outdoor season was extended. At NBON she ran just the 100m and was far back in prelims, but again she saved everything for the 4x100m relay as the Cougars set an all-time NY best of 46.01. In late June she got a win in the 400m at USATF Nationals and a best time 53.28 in prelims. Then she traveled down to Mexico to win the 400m for the Central American and Caribbean championships in a sparkling time of 51.32, by far the best in the nation for a HSer in 2013. It was five weeks to the IAAF World Championships to compete against the top athletes in the world at Moscow in August. There was no magic for Baird this time as a 53.73 in in the 400m prelims placed her near the back.
Baird continued to compete after graduation from Medgar Evers, first at the University of Nebraska before transferring to Texas A&M and joining former teammate Brenessa Thompson. In her final college track year in 2017 she helped the Aggies place 4th in the 4x400m at NCAA D1 Outdoors. She also competed with Guyana in some competitions, but opportunities there were limited.
The 51.04 that Baird ran at World Juniors in 2012 broke a 30 year old record by another athlete from her boro, Diane Dixon of Brooklyn Tech. Dixon ran a 51.75 in the 400m on May 16, 1982 at the Pepsi Invite at UCLA. Dixon went on to win an NCAA 400m championship for Ohio State and a gold medal with the American 4x400m squad at the 1984 Olympics.