State Record Snapshot - Rai Benjamin Snaps Up 400m Hurdles

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. We're releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to be put your mark on history. Tune in!

We are now into the abridged version of the Snapshots as we get to more recent records. We look here at a record from back in 2015. Enjoy!

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When Mt. Vernon's Rai Benjamin lined up in lane 4 for the start of the seeded section of the 400m hurdles at the 2015 New Balance Outdoor Nationals on June 21st, he knew that he would be in a dogfight even though he was the favorite. A month before at Westchester County he had broken the 38-year-old NY state record with a US #1 50.45, but there was a huge amount of talent at NBON. Next to him in lane 5 was Norman Grimes of Canyon TX who was the national leader at his normal distance of 300m hurdles, and Grimes would go on to win the titles at the IAAF World Youth and Pan American Juniors meets that year. Next best in the rankings were the NJ champ Taylor McLaughlin (Sydney's older brother) of Union Catholic and NY state champ Infinite Tucker of Huntington. Benjamin had not run the hurdles since his County meet because he had a lot of events such as the 200m and 400m that he also competed in, and as a star Jamaican athlete he also ran at a lot of high-level competitions around the US and Caribbean. At NBON, Grimes got out to the early lead and was looking good going around the second turn as he cleared the eighth hurdle still on top. But by the ninth hurdle on the back stretch, Benjamin was into his power glide mode. As Grimes tied up a little at the end and McLaughlin surged up for 2nd, Benjamin drove home just a little off the meet record but well under his own state record with a 49.97 time. Tucker pulled in for 4th, and the 5th guy in the race and 10th overall was East Orange sophomore Cory Poole. A lot of talent was on the track, and in 2018 Benjamin would take the NCAA D1 titles in the 200m indoors and in the 400H outdoors for USC.

At the Westchester County meet Benjamin broke the record of 50.52 set by Farmingdale's Paul Lankford while winning at the US vs. USSR meet on July 3rd, 1977 in Richmond VA. Lankford went on to play cornerback for the Miami Dolphins and was in the Super Bowls for the 1982 and 1984 seasons, numbers XVII and XIX.


Westchester County Championship 2015 - Rai Benjamin breaks Paul Lankford's 38-year-old record in 400m hurdles at 50.45 on May 17th.