By Christopher Hunt
The only thing that Strymar Livingston could do was shake his head. On a day when runners took a giant eraser to the record books Saturday, the one national record that could have been knocked off remained on the books.
Livingston, a Columbus junior, eye-balled the clock on the ArmoryTron from the very first lap and dialed it up each time around as he scintillated a crowd full of collegiate athletes and coaches in the junior boys 600 meters at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
Livingston finished in 1:18.01, which will count for the second-fastest time in United States history and New York State record. The national record is 1:17.9, but is recorded as a hand-time, which had reporters and the race announcer scrambling to find out if Livingston had, in fact, delivered the fastest scholastic 600-meters ever.
“That should be a national record,” Livingston said. “They should count it.”
The standard conversion for a hand-time is .14, which could make the national record, set by Shaquan Brown of Paterson (N.J.), translates to 1:18.13. But the record keepers said the time would remain atop the record list.
Nonetheless, it was Livingston’s second New York State record in three weeks, although both came with some controversy. At the New Balance Games two weeks ago, Livingston finished second behind Najee Glass of St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.) in a state record time of 1:02.88.
Glass won the race in 1:02.22, which bettered the national record of 1:02.80. Video of the race later revealed that Glass had run outside his lane and although he was not disqualified his record was discounted.
Glass had another chance Saturday when the meet director, Jack Pfeifer, added a junior boys 500 to the race schedule. This time, since Livingston ran the 600, Glass was forced to chase the record alone. He hit the 300 mark with a 10-meter lead that he held as a he pushed throw the finish line in 1:03.33.
“I wanted to run the 500,” Livingston said. “But my coach, he has a plan for me. He wanted me to run the 600 to get ready for races later on in the season.”
Almost every high school race Saturday made an assault on history somehow. State records fell in the girls 4x200 and the boys 4x800 as well.
Medgar Evers coach Shaun Dietz said in December that he had a team capable of breaking the New York State record and he finally put together a squad to do it.
Shaunice Daphness (25.1), Sandrae Farquharson (23.7) , Kadecia Baird (24.3) and Nyanka Moise-Joseph (24.6) won the girls 4x200 in 1:37.73. They crushed the state record of 1:38..39 set by A.P. Randolph in 2001, a team that included Natasha Hastings. Medgar Evers becomes the only American team outside of California to run an indoor sub-1:38 4x200 relay. The time makes them the third-fastest team in U.S. history.
“When I looked at A.P. Randolph in 2000-2001, I thought, never again could a team have that much talent in one area, in one event,” Dietz said. “But these girls worked hard. I knew it was there.”
Medgar Evers had already set a national leader in the 4x400 Friday, finishing in 3:44.66, the second-fastest time in New York State history and the 18th fastest in the nation all-time.
Farquharson earlier won the junior girls 300, also in a national leading time of 38.28. The junior lightly clapped her hands once she saw the time posted. It was her most overt celebration this season.
“I achieved more than I expected today,” Farquharson said. “I was expecting something like 38.5.”
Cardozo’s Chamique Francis was scheduled to be in the race as was seen warming up but never made it to the starting line. That left Farquharson to do the work alone.
“Every time I set a mark, I try to run faster,” she said. “Today was like building a step.”
With all the success Medgar Evers had, the only team with a comparable weekend is Abington (Pa.).
A day after Abington broke the Pennsylvania state record in the 4x400, the team came back and did the same in the 4x800. Tevin Smith (1:58.3), Macey Watson (1:56.0), Will Taylor (1:58.7) and Kyle Moran (1:52.8) outdueled Shaker to win the 4x800 in 7:45.93, the fastest time in the country this season and the 11th fastest in the nation all-time.
The time tops the old Pennsylvania record of 7:47.48 set by North Penn in 2002.
Shaker’s Christian Delago lead the race with two laps left and Moran strapped to his back. Then Moran took over in the last 150 to give Abington its second national leader of the weekend.
“My boys put me right where I needed to be,” Moran said. “This is a good weekend for us. Everyone had a good weekend.”
Shenendehowa posted the nation’s best time this season in the girls 4x800. Kristen Jordan (2:19.6), Alex Burtnick (2:16.5), Gina Stalica (2:17.6) and Sam Crisafulli (2:17.1) finished in 9:10.91. St. Anthony’s, behind Olicia Williams’ 2:09.3 anchor leg, finshed second in 9:13.72.
Shen put Jordan, a freshman, on the leadoff with its top gun, Lizzie Predmore in Boston to running the mile at the Boston Indoor Games. Jordan kept her team in contention, handed off to Burtnick in fourth and the senior blew the race open.
“She was amazing,” Burtnick said of Jordan. “She was so nervous. We just tried to calm her down. Lizzie is really strong but it winning here shows our depth that we can still do good things without her.”
Da'Quan Smalls, Devin Johnson, Burkheart Ellis, Jr. and Mar-keo Jones edged Sheepshead Bay in the boys 4x200, finishing in 1:29.04 for Knightdale (N.C.). Jones slipped ahead of Sheephead Bay's anchor 10 meters before the finish. Sheepshead Bay was second in 1:29.10, the best in New York State this season.
Almost buried in the record-setting barrage was Mamaroneck junior Anima Banks, who won the junior girls 600 in an impressive 1:32.54. Banks stayed in the pack until the bell lap and then unleashed a powerful kick. It was her third personal best in the 600 in as many weeks and the best time in the country this season.
“When I heard the bell it just gave me a rush of adrenaline,” Banks said. “This was amazing. I’m so happy. I would have been happy with third.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.