Track stars win for Forest Hills

Track stars win for Forest Hills
Photo by Ken Maldonado
By Mike Morton and Joseph Staszewski

Forest Hills’ Felipe Yanez surprised everyone with his blistering times at the Mayor’s Cup.

Well, everyone but himself.

The senior returned to the track Saturday at Icahn Stadium after not being able to compete during the indoor season because of injuries suffered to both knees in the PSAL cross-country city championships. He went on to win the 800 meters and place second in the 1,P600.

“I was really upset because the whole year dealing with injuries I couldn’t run at all,” Yanez said. “So (now being) outdoors, this is my season. I’m a senior, this is my last season, I have to give all that I have.”

He started the day by completely dominating the field in the 800, winning in a time of 1:55.8. He only qualified for Section 3 because he usually does not compete in the race, which saddened him because he thought he deserved to be in a more competitive section.

That did not stop Yanez from giving everything he had, however.

“I was really upset, because of the low section,” he said. “I was like, you know what? I’m just going to do well. It doesn’t matter what section you are, just run.”

Yanez closed the day finishing second in the 1,600 with a mark of 4:28.09, less than two seconds behind the leader. He decided to run the race despite being fatigued from the 800 and this being his first competitive meet in months.

“It’s one of those days where you think you can do everything and you try, but it’s not what you [thought] was gonna happen,” Yanez said. “I was tired, but I didn’t give up.”

Forest Hills teammate Oghenakpob Efekoro added to Forest Hills’ awards at the meet. The junior won the shot put with a toss of 51 feet 4.25 inches to claim his first gold medal. It only shows his growth after placing second in the event the indoor city championships in March.

Efekoro’s goal isn’t just to win medals, but to be the best at the school. He was hoping to break the Forest Hills record of 52-2.50 at the Mayor’s Cup, but believes it’s going to be his eventually.

“It’s a long season,” he said. “I have plenty of time. It’s inevitable.”

Notes: Cardozo’s Sabrina Southerland, who finished second in the 400 meters at the Mayor’s Cup with 57.63, was there every step of the way as her brother James, a Dozo alumnus, and Syracuse reached the Big East Tournament final and the school’s first Final Four since 2003.

“It’s great to watch him grow,” she said. “He’s really improved.”

She and her family sat right behind the Syracuse bench for the national semifinals loss to Michigan. The run came just as Sabrina ran the second fastest time ever by a high school athlete indoors of 2:03.59, second only to former Olympic medalist Mary Decker.

“People say they have sibling rivalries — that’s not us,” she said. “We just push each other.”