By Joseph Staszewski
It was a situation all too familiar for Alexis Panisse. Another new race. Another special performance.
The Benjamin Cardozo star did it twice at the NYC Mayor’s Cup outdoor track and field championships at Icahn Stadium this weekend. She was one of three Judges runners to break meet records as Lateisha Philson did in the 100 meter dash and Sabrina Southerland smashed the mark in the 1500. They help the Judges claim the Mayor’s Cup crown.
On Friday night, Panisse ran her first 2000 steeplechase and won in a meet record time of 6:59.34, also the second fastest mark in the country in the early season. It beat the mark of 7:01.62 set by Brearley’s Emily De La Bruyer last year.
“I was so proud of myself,” Panisse said.
She came back Saturday and fell to the track — scraping her knee in the process after placing first in her first-ever outdoor 800 with a time of 2:07.68 with her teammates and coaches screaming from the stands near the finish line. Truman’s Dominique Blake ran the old standard of 2:14.08 in 2004.
“Amazing weekend for me,” Panisse said.
She took great pride in her steeplechase performance, saying she had no clue what she was doing. Panisse, headed to Tennessee, trained for two weeks just jumping over hurdles, but never into the water until Friday night. She ran the best time in the state at the time in the 600 indoors at the Queens borough championships.
“That’s just Alexis,” Southerland said. “When she wants to do something, she’ll do it.”
Panisse, one of the nation’s premier distance runners, sprinted from the start of the 800. She admitted her body was still sore from running the steeplechase the night before, but she wasn’t going to let it stop her from finishing well ahead of the field. The win was also a birthday present for Judges assistant Coach Ray James.
“The pain is what makes you stronger,” Panisse said. “Unfortunately, people don’t understand that. You got to get over it one day.”
She laughed when asked if she was going to run out of new races to try before she graduates.
“Never,” Panisse said. “Maybe I’ll try the dash.”
That for now will be left to Philson, who won the 100 with a meet record time of 12.03. She bested the old mark of 12.06 set by Medgar Evers’ Deiddra Rogers in 2006. The Miami-bound star was a bit unhappy with the mark after running 11.80 in the trials Friday night.
“I think the start messed me up because they called us back,” Philson. “My concentration got a little broken and I didn’t get out so good.”
Southerland didn’t even know she broke a record when she crossed the finish line in a personal-best time of 4:41.26, topping the mark of 4:45.33 set by Brearley’s Katie Hanns a year ago. She ran the race suffering from charlie horses for the last two. Canarsie’s Shenika King won both 200 and 400 in time of 26.86 and 56.64.
“I didn’t expect to break a record today because I was kind of in pain,” Southerland said.
Friends Seminary’s Isabeaux Mitton (10:41.14) was first in the 3000. Treasure Glymph was the 100 hurdles champ in 15.13 and Clinton’s Brittney Adams was the 400 hurdles champ in 1:03.44. Adams was also a member of the winning 4×400 relay team with Katrina Lambert, Marlena Wright and Kianna Tidball in 3:58.85.
Brittany Alexander (Glover Cleveland) won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet 2 inches and Dina Gutierrez placed first in the high jump (7-06). St. Edmund’s Jallilissa Marcus (17-06) and Port Richmond’s Katrina Hill (36-04) won the high jump and triple jump. Clinton’s Desire Gordon was the shot put champ with a toss of 33-10.50
The meet, however, was highlighted by Cardozo in record-breaking fashion.
“We weren’t really looking to break any records today, but I guess stuff happens,” Philson said. “We are proud of ourselves.”