By Christopher Hunt
All photos by Mary DiBiase Blaich
Roslyn’s Emily Lipari said she felt like herself again. Because the person that she knew had gotten lost in some alternate reality that included little running and lots of crying and questions and regrets of opportunities missed.
It certainly looked like vintage Lipari when she tucked her chin and bullishly worked passed Bishop Ford’s Shanique DaSilva and held of Alaine Tate of Bayside to win the invitational girls 800 meters in a personal best 2:13.58.
For Lipari it wasn’t just an impressive opening race at a distance shorter than the senior is known for but it was a victory that closed the door on one of the darkest periods of her young athletics career. Lipari, who had the nation’s fastest-time in the mile indoor last year, had tons of expectations for the fall cross country season. But she watched him vanish when she rolled her right ankle at the Section 8 Conference championship.
Lipari missed the state and federation championships with what she announced was a sprained ankle. The MRI she underwent after the league meet did reveal a sprain in her right ankle, but it also discovered a stress fracture. Lipari missed two weeks of running before running – not really competing – at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, where she finished 51st.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I cried for two weeks straight. For those two weeks, I felt like, no joke, I was spiraling into a depression. But now I can sit here and say that those two weeks was what I needed. I needed the rest. I just had so many goals for cross country. Most of the time, you don’t have a social life when you’re running. Now you have a social life and it’s weird. You don’t realize how much you love running until you get injured.”
Lipari admitted that it’d been a long time since she had been nervous before a race. But that didn’t stop her from sitting on DaSilva for three laps before making a move.
“I didn’t really come in here to cross the finish line first,” she said. “But midway through the race I really started to feel like me again. When I saw I had a shot I just went for it. Just crossed my fingers.”
Cardozo provided the excitement that many expected I the 4x200 final, pitted against Medgar Evers, which clocked the nation’s fastest-time last week at the Bishop Loughlin Games. But took the early advantage and never relinquished. Latiesha Philson, Ayele Townsend, Ahtyana Johnson and Chaminque Francis won in 1:41.48, the second-fastest time in the country this season. Medgar Evers finished second in 1:42.47.
“Today our coach wanted to try something different,” said Francis, who put the race away on the anchor leg. “We are trying different freshman.”
This time Townsend got the nod and held her own. Although her teammates provided her a little extra motivation.
“We made her nervous,” Johnson said. “We told her, ‘You better run.’ She really ran well.”
Cardozo tried another freshman on the anchor leg of the sprint medley relay. She held a solid lead for two laps of her 800-meter leg before Bishop Ford’s DaSilva erased the gap then took over the front for good.
“I wanted her to come back to me,” DaSilva said. “At first I was getting nervous because she was still up here there. But I started to see her fading a little bit and I knew that that was my chance to attack.”
Malekah Holland, Corrine Williams, Ashia Tokponwey and DaSilva won the sprint medley in a nation-leading 4:08.97. It’s a solid debut time for a team that finished second at NSIC last season with Holland, Williams and DaSilva all returning from that squad.
“We were a little tired (from previous races) but we all knew what the goal was,” DaSilva said. “We just wanted to see where we were at right now.”
The same was the case for North Shore, which claimed both the distance medley relay and the 4x800. Brianna Welch, Whitney McCarthy, Emily Osman and Samantha Nadel won the championship distance medley in 12:11.42, also the fastest-time in the country this season. The performances were especially impressive for Welch and Nadel, as Welch was injured with shin splints for most of the cross country season and Nadel struggled in the latter part of the season.
“We all could have run faster,” Welch said. “But we all ran smart. We all ran well. “
North Shore later won the 4x800 in 9:35.22. Willingboro (N.J.) also became the first team this season to break the 4-minute barrier in the 4x400. The team won in 3:59.62.
All photos by Mary DiBiase Blaich