By Christopher Hunt
photo by Dereck Alvez / Staten Island Advance
videos produced by Tim Fulton
Before the race, Strymar Livingston paced back and fourth, in and out the arena, just to take a look at the national record posted on the board in the corridor just outside of the track, the record that he just missed three weeks ago.
This time he left no doubt. The Columbus junior made sure that his name would join the other nailed to a plaque on the wall on the third floor of the Armory. Livingston astounded the crowd at the PSAL championships today, setting the national record in the 600 meters at an eye-popping 1:17.64.
“It means a lot to me because I’ve been working really hard,” Livingston said. “My coach told me what to do and I just went out there and did it. I came back today strong and ready.”
The performance registered Livingston’s third record of the season. He bettered a mark of 1:17.9, a hand-time, set by Shaquan Brown of JFK-Paterson (N.J.) in 2005. Livingston set the New York State record at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational Feb.4 in 1:18.01. That came two weeks after he broke the state 500 record in 1:02.88.
If it’s any indication of the way that Livingston is approaching this season, the first thing his coach, Michael Pearson, did when Livingston finished his lap of honor and stepped off the race was scold him for allowing Robert Rhodes of Boys & Girls (second, 1:19.47) to take pole position after the first lap.
“We had the discussion before,” Pearson said. “He’s not there yet. (Rhodes) almost ran into him at the cones. (Livingston) needs to make sure he clears the cones.
But Livingston took over on the second circuit. He passed Rhodes on the back straightaway and went through the 400 mark in 48.9. Yet somehow he still reserved enough to hit the gas for the bell lap.
“I saw that finish and just knew I had to get there,” he said.
Livingston said he plans to run the 800 at the Eastern States Championships March 1. The state record is 1:51.36 set by Justin Craddock of Kenmore East in 2005.
Cardozo senior Claudia Francis missed her planned attempt at the girls national 600 record. She finished in 1:30.56. The plan, assistant coach Ray James said, was to run through the first two laps between 58 and 59 seconds. Francis went through in 61 and moving up from fourth place.
“The first lap was good but the second lap, I shouldn’t have stayed in the back,” Francis said.
Francis had run 1:29.98 at the Queens Borough championships last week, which immediately put the national record on her radar for the city championships. But Francis said she thought she went out too hard last week and didn’t want to make the same mistake again. But backing off turned out to be a mistake as well.
“She’s a lot stronger than she was when she ran 1:29,” James said, who had taken a photo the plaque denoting the national record in the hall outside. “We were perplexed. I wanted her to go out through in 58. We were ready.”
Francis also won the 1,500 in 4:46.18 and run the anchor leg on the Judges winning 4x400 relay.