Rai Benjamin was only one of many athletes who put on tremendous performances during the 47th annual Glenn D. Loucks Track and Field three-day meet for high school athletes at White Plains High School in Westchester County, upstate New York. Entries keep growing yearly both in number of athletes and schools.
One of the largest meets in the tri-state area, on only the third day of action, when most of the finals were contested, was marked twice by rain which temporarily curtailed the competition. The officials of the meet waited out the rain and kept the meet in progress.
The meet, under the direction of Fred Singleton and his very competent staff, was once again a success marked by fast times and long distances as well as outstanding performances. Many records fell to the delight of the coaches and athletes. The meet drew 242 schools, including those from Canada, 353 teams, 1616 boys and 1517 girls on the high school level.
Benjamin almost pulled off a double by winning the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 52.42 and finished second in the 400 meter dash in 47.17. Scoring was based on a 10-8-6-4-2-1.
The junior at Mount Vernon High School competes during the indoor and outdoor seasons and trains in the fall doing base work for the winter. His time in the hurdles thus became the fastest clocking in the nation during this outdoor campaign. It also became the second best on the Loucks Games all-time list.
Benjamin also ran the anchor leg on the 1600-meter relay team that finished second, but in the hurdles Benjamin did not get out the way that he wanted to.
“I was still a little tired from the Open 400 but gradually I built ‘it’ up, Benjamin said. “With more practice then I’ll be fine All in all it was a god race.”
Benjamin’s father, Winston Benjamin, was a professional cricket player in Antigua, West Indies. He now manages an under 17 cricket team.
“I was born here (in New York) but have traveled back and forth,” the student athlete said. “I don’t have any problems going back and forth. It’s always fun to go to the beaches and see the people (there). When I go down there it’s a vacation.
“My goal is to get under 47 seconds for the 400 and get under 50 seconds in the hurdles.”
He has been competing in the Loucks Games for three years and holds numerous indoor and outdoor school records.
Meanwhile, coming into the race, Richard Rose, a junior at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, felt very good and confident that he could win his event. And he did it!
Rose just edged Benjamin 46.38 seconds to 47.17 in the 400-meter dash and earned outstanding athlete of the meet award for the boys. Rose is a versatile track performer and he is capable of running at any distance from the 200 meters to the 800 meters. He is top-ranked in New York State in the 400 after his performances last week in the Loucks Games. He also set a record and has the fastest time in the nation this year.
“To be top-ranked and win the race means a lot to me,” Rose added. “I’m a hard worker. Everybody’s goal is to make an Olympics team (and I’m no exception).” Rose’s farther Collin comes from Jamaica, West Indies.
“He is a hard working and dedicated man, and that’s who I got that trait from,” he said.
On the distaff side, Brenessa Thompson, a senior at Medgar Evers High School in Brooklyn and a native of Guyana in the Caribbean, was timed in 12.22 in the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash, and then captured the finals in a faster time of 11.97. In addition, the highly ranked sprinter also took the 200 meters in 24.31. She helped her school to the combined men and women team title with 78 points.
“I’m satisfied with my win,” Ms. Thompson said. “My start was slow and I have to work more on it.”
Brenessa’s farther used to be a runner in the Caribbean. The student athlete was born in Guyana and the family moved to Brooklyn three years ago.
All the athletes and coaches had nothing but praise for the meet.