Well folks, that's it for the 2011-2012 seasons for Cross Country and Track and Field. With the conclusion of the World Junior Championships, all athletes are home for the season, and building towards either college or those cross country courses in the fall. We here at MileSplit NY have just finished our first year as well, as we became independent early last August. Since that time, you've viewed our page over 10 million times, and added to our growing Facebook and Twitter followings. We've had great performances, new breakout stars, and countless new state records. To put it lightly, it has been a great year for the Empire State. To commemorate the end of the season, we'd like to look back at our top 10 moments from the past year. These may not be the fastest times or best performances, but they were moments that were aided by the stories behind them, the rivalries established, and the accomplishments achieved. We'll be releasing two a day, with the top pick being released on Saturday night. While they are ranked numerically, their order is only slightly important. Each moment proved thrilling for the track fan, and we look forward to even more in 2013. And be sure to sound off in our comments for moments you think we missed, as cutting this down to a list of ten was not easy.
8. Strymar Nabs Redemption Run
Moment #8 was a whole year in the making. The story begins in the winter of 2011, where two stellar juniors met up on the track at the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory in NYC. Najee Glass (Neptune NJ) and Strymar Livingston (Christopher Columbus) were lined up together for one of the premiere races of the 2011 New Balance Games, the 500m. Both runners had one thing on their mind, the national record, and both were more than capable. At the gun, both runners took off at a blistering pace, crushing their goal lap times, running in tandem. At the line, it would be Najee Glass to edge out Livingston, grabbing well under the National Record, with Livingston smoking the New York State Record in the process. However, the story doesn't end here. After careful review of the race footage, the record had been retracted. The video showed that indeed, Najee Glass had prematurely stepped over the line. That meant that the record would be rescinded, but the victory was still attributed to Glass. Livingston, content with his new State Record, would then focus on his other goal, the 600m National Record, which he would achieve just two weeks later as he hit 1:17.64 at the PSAL City Championships. But one thing eluded him, and it was another chance at that 500m.
That chance had to wait until next year, where the rarely contested 500m was again set to be a highlight of the New Balance Games. Both runners, now seniors, had something to prove. Glass was out to redeem himself for his misteps the year before, and Livingston wanted to prove that he was king of his home track. This time, as the gun went off, Strymar left nothing to chance. He took off hard, wrangling in a solid sub-49 second opening quarter. Pulling away, Glass made the same close on Livingston that saw the upset last year, but something had changed in this years playback. Livingston responded with a kick of his own, pushing away to a win that was echoed across the country. Glass had indeed broken the his own time from last year, going 1:02.16, but it was all Livingston with his new National Record in 1:01.68. The senior from the city would go on to lower his 600m record later in the season to 1:17.58, but it was this race that solidified Livingston as the long sprint powerhouse of 2012.
7. Leff Not Left Behind
The girls of New York cross country face a problem not able to be replicated most other places in the country. The talent is so dense in the Empire State, where every Nike Cross Nationals in existence has been won by a NY girls team, that it is sometimes hard to stand out. Its even harder when you are up against someone in your class that is making national headlines on her own. But Laura Leff (West Genesee) managed to break through all that, competing in arguably the toughest section for the sport in the country. The young sophomore had been on a tear all season, breaking through the solid Fayetteville-Manlius top 5 at her Section 3 Championships, and taking 2nd overall at the New York State Federation meet at Bowdoin Park. In addition, Leff had taken 4th overall in the merged results of the 2011 New York State Meet behind 3 of the Nation's fastest female distance runners ever. By the time it came for post-season qualifiers, Leff had solidified her spot as one of the Nations fastest underclassman.
While most of New York State is drawn to the Nike Cross Nationals, individuals looking for glory have the option of attending the Foot Locker Championships. The Northeast qualifying course is held at Sunken Meadow in Long Island, one of the toughest course around with Cardiac Hill, and field that pulls some of the top talent in the tri-state. That didn't phase the sophomore from upstate, as she took 5th overall that also saw Alexis Panisse from NY qualify as well. In San Diego, home of the Foot Locker Championships, Leff faced a battle she had overcome before. She was pitted against the nations best, in a race that would be taken out fast, and never letting up. Leff moved well through the pack over the first half of the race, letting the front runners tire themselves out on the difficult courses sunny conditions, a far cry from the late season November in New York. As the top guns began to fade, Leff was just hitting her stride, pushing a monumental second half of the race to make up several spots on the final downhill of the course. Her last kick earned her third overall at the National Championship, a race that housed some of the top talent in the country. And for that performance, Laura Leff earns the 7th spot on our list.