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Stealthy Cougars Strike Twice in New York City PSAL


New York – The drought has ended for Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College Preparatory High School, also known as the Cougars, when both their girls and boys track and field teams were crowned New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL) champions at the recent 2013-2014 Indoor Track and Field City Championships.

The win was even sweeter for the girls team (Lady Cougars); for the past seven consecutive years, they have had to settle for second behind their main rival and nemesis Benjamin Cardozo High School track team, but this time they were able to reverse the positions.

Over the years, each team has showcased exceptional individual talents; however, it was Cardozo’s middle distance runners who always blew away their competitors. This year though, with neither teams boasting any “superstar” on its roster, they both have talented and dedicated athletes. The big difference this year for the Lady Cougars was in the exceptional field events performances.

Sophomore Shayla Broughton brought the crowd to their feet when she cleared the high jump bar at 5ft-6in for a personal record (PB). Her teammate and senior Ashley Tasher missed taking the long and triple jumps double gold, when she was pushed into second place in the long jump. Even though she and the eventual winner, Kadeija Brown of Harry Truman High School (Brooklyn), were tied at 17ft 6.5in, Brown was elevated to the top spot because she had one fewer jump.

In the triple jump, Tasher, who showed signs of disappointment with her final long jump attempt, sent a clear message to her rivals with her first jump. At the end of the competition, she took the gold medal with a jump of 37ft 1in (a new Medgar Evers school record). She out-jumped the second place finisher Saida Burnsmoore of Christopher Columbus High School (Bronx) by over two feet (35ft 5in). The Lady Cougars also devoured their competitions in the sprint relays (200 & 400) by taking the gold in both relays events.

Cardozo’s The Lady Judges, seven-time back-to-back defending champions, showed why they are regarded by many in New York City track and field circle as a perennial elite team. Head coach Gail Emmanuel and her assistant coach Ray James were elated: “Those girl showed what the true meaning of team really is,” James said. “This group of girls fought like a true champion and our team was in it all the way to the end. It was very close, but Coach Shaun (Dietz) and his girls got the better of us this year. I would like to extend my full congratulation to them.”

Record from Branch

Cardozo senior Denise Branch set a new PSAL record in the 3000m race when she finished in 9mins, 45.25secs, and erased the old record (9:52.01) set by her former team mate and training partner Alexis Panisse.

Branch has joined Panisse and Sabrina Southerland as the top middle-distance runners in New York City High School track and field, who attended Cardozo and have been coached by James. Branch has accepted a full track scholarship offer from the University of Illinois.

Boys Settle Score

While there were several outstanding individual performances in the boys events, the honors for individual bragging rights seemed to be the order of the day. Throughout it all, Medgar Evers boys were scoring big points and ended the meet as PSAL City Champions.

Medgar Evers’ Nickino Allwood was the “Outstanding Athlete”, or MVP if you will, of the Championships, taking home three gold medals. He took the long and triple jumps gold medals with distances of 21ft 11ins and 45ft 5ins, respectively and later ran sensational leg in his team 4×200 relay.

Arguably the race of the day, the boys 4×200, brought the crowed to a state of frenzy as the Medgar Evers Cougars quartet of Semasa Oni, Nikino Allwood, Corey Butcher and Kyle Johnson lived up to their name. With cat-like effortlessness and almost-close-to-perfect baton passes, coupled with some deft turn-running, they handed pre-race favorites Samuel Tilden Educational Campus High School (Brooklyn) a surprise victory in a sizzling 1:30.75. Tilden registered 1:31.33 for the number two spot.

Though all the top individual performances are worthy of mention, two stood out because they are ranked among the top three in New York State for the 2013-2014 indoor season. Oghenakpob Efkoro, a senior at Forest Hills High School (Queens), threw the shot put 56ft 11.5ins and Richard Rose (Boys and Girls High School) stopped the clock at 34.07 in the 300m dash.

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