By Christopher Hunt
Medgar Evers will have Sandrae Farquharson available for the rounds of the 4x400 relay at Penn Relays this weekend. The problem for the indoor national champs, is that they likely will not have Kadecia Baird.
Farquharson appeared to injure her left hamstring at the New York Relays two weeks ago at Ichan Stadium. The junior crumbled to the track after grabbing her leg before the final exchange in the 4x100 on a damn and cold afternoon. Medgar Evers coach Shaun Dietz said that she has been cleared to compete and will race this weekend.
But Baird, who won the 200 at the Taco Bell Classic in South Carolina earlier this month, is in Guyana right now with her family to mourn the death of her great grandfather. Medgar Evers was one of the favored teams to advance to the prestigious 4x400 Championship of America
Dietz said he is doubtful that the junior sprinter will return back to the states in time to race in the qualifying rounds Thursday. Sophomore Kimberly Campbell will be her replacement on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
“Hopefully she’ll rise to the occasion,” Dietz said of Campbell, adding that he’s hoping that Baird can make it back to the final on Friday. “I think we can still make it back to the final.”
Dietz said he plans to remain cautious with Farquharson, who has had hamstring issues before. But he expects that she will be, at least, close to full strength for Penn. In the meantime he put the onus on rival school Cardozo to hold the fort for New York relays.
The Judges plan to field their best team, or some version of it. Cardozo coach Gail Emmanuel said that Latiesha Philson, Chamique Francis, Sabrina Southerland and Claudia Francis will all be available to run the 4x400 Thursday. Southerland is the only question mark. Emmanuel may rest Southerland for the distance medley relay, in which case seniors Alexis Panisse or Ugonna Okpala would sub in.
But Emmanuel is pushing her chips in for the DMR.
“We’re definitely going to try run the DMR,” Emmanuel said. “I feel like we’re better suited for that.”
She says because neither Philson or Chamique Francis have proven to be fully recovered from hamstring injuries stemming back to the indoor season. But on the DMR, Cardozo can lean on two-time outdoor national champ Claudia Francis. No question that Francis has the best credentials of any half-miler in the field.
She has already proven her speed this season. She beat Farquharson in the 400 at New York Relays in 54.49, which is the fourth-fastest time in the country this season. Cardozo’s hope is that Francis can put a lead on the field large enough that Southerland can hold off the anchor legs no matter what the chase pack does.
“We put it on paper four different times, four different ways, “ Emmanuel said. “If you put everyone to run their best race, we could win this. We’re very optimistic.”
The likelihood is that the team will field Panisse, Philson, Claudia Francis and Southerland.
“That should be a winning formula,” the coach said.