Cardozo runs 3:40.86 to win adidas Grand Prix

NEW YORK - Sure they were relegated to supporting--player roles in the adidas Track and Field Classic Diamond League Meet Saturday at Icahn Stadium, Randall’s Island.

     Sure they were completely overshadowed by the cast of international track and field celebrities who descended on the East River isle - the likes of Lolo Jones, Steve Hooker, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Allyson Felix, Valerie Vili, Richard Thompson, Bernard Lagat, Kerron Clement, Andreas Thorskildsen, and a whole lot more.

    But such Metropolitan area scholastic stars as Kelsey Margey, twins Jim and Joe Rosa, and the 4x400 relay teams of Teaneck (boys), and Cardozo and  Columbia of Maplewood (girls) reveled in the applause rained down upon by the sellout crowd
at Icahn, too.

  As Lisa Morgan, the Columbia High School coach, summed it up succinctly,
all this was “pretty cool.”

      Margey, the Harborfields, LI star who ran independently this spring after competing for the school team through the winter season, came through with a solid 4:43.91 third-place in the Jim Ryun Girls Dream Mile race, an event won by Washington stater Maddie Meyers (4:41.93) over Florida’s Shelby Hayes (4:43.00.)   In the short period of time that it took to run the race, they shot up to the 1-2-3 places on the national scholastic list for 2010.

   As some early front-runners, notably Mississippian Cory McGee, wilted in the early afternoon heat and high humidity, Mayers came on like gangbusters - “just amazing” she called her race.

   Margey, who is coached by veteran mentor Paul Limmer, was right in the hunt, too,
and delighted to be in the mix, less than two seconds away from the win.

           The Rosas, of Mercer County, New Jersey’s West Windsor High School-North, who were simply devastating over the cross country season, have been sensational this spring, too.

     As Lukas Verzbicas, an amazing sophomore out of Illinois, was winning the Jim Ryun Boys Dream Mile in 4:04.38 - best in the nation this year and a best-ever by a sophomore, with Jakob Hurysz of North Carolina his closest rival in 4:06.18, Jim Rosa was racing to a 4:07.70 third place and twin Joe was grabbing a fifth in 4:08.55.

   Had a pair of miling brothers ever broken 4:09 in the same high school race?  That’s one had the experts racing to the archives.

    And then there were all the thrills of the relay action.

     Just as the Diamond League events evolved, these were global contests, too.

     Cardozo High of Queens ran down a solid, world-class field to win the girls 4x400 in 3:40.86, with Columbia second in 3:42.37 and early front-running  Bickle of Jamaica (3:42.86) and Holmwood of Jamaica (3:48.68) settling for the 3-4 spots.

   Chamique Francis anchored in 53.7 as Cardozo (which passed up the New York State meet to run at Icahn) clocked the second best time in the nation this year.  It was Lataisha Philson, Athyana Johnson and Sabrina Southerland setting it up for the Queens team on the first three carries.

    Columbia stayed with the four of Brittney Jackson, Ty-Vonna Johnson, Kelsey Jackson and Kayann Richards that had won the NJSIAA Meet of Champions nine days earlier in 3:42.54 - but with Richards anchoring in 54.5, improved on that perfromance by 17/100ths.
  Back in April at the Penn Relays, the Chris Ann Gordon-anchored (52.8) Holmwood Tech team from Jamaica had sizzled to a 3:39.66 Championship of America triumph with Cardozo third (3:42.27) and Columbia sixth (3:46.48.).

   But few things stay the same in this sport, one built on the old “what have you done lately” concept.  This time, it was Holmwood fourth in 3:48.66, beaten by two Met area teams as well as one Jamaica rival.

     It was Trinidad and Tobago (one and inseparable, as the national slogan goes). represented by the Queens Royal College team of Port of Spain, first in the boys 4x400 at 3:14.38, but Teaneck of Bergen County (3:15.61) hard on the Trinidadians’  heels, with Cheltenham of Wyncote, Pa. just barely back in third (3:15.62.)

  Teaneck ran with the same foursome - Daylan Miles, Warren Fields, Damien Elliott and
Justin Hodge - that had raced off with the NJSIAA Meet of Champions title in 3:15.15.

   Cheltenham - a school best known, athletically speaking as the alma mater of
baseball great Reggie Jackson - went with the lineup of twins Brandon and Bernard Bennett-Green, Matt Gilmore and Harold Alfred.  They’d set a Penn Relays Suburban One Division record of 3:13.6, then returned  to place fifth in the Championship of America final.

     The Wolmer’s Boys High School team  of Jamaica had won that Championship of America race at Penn in 3:14.59, but was just fifth at Icahn Stadium in 3:19.17.

   For the best of USA scholastic talent, it’s on to the New Balance National Scholastic Championships in Greensboro, NC this weekend, with the USATF Junior Nationals, the USATF Youth Nationals, and both the USATF and AAU Junior Olympic national title meets principal targets for many, too.

    Give them all a few years, of course, but count on the best and most dedicated of these young stars to be racing in “real” Diamond League events.  Somewhere down the line, it’s bound to happen.  They are that good.