Volume 20, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 8 - 14 , 2008

M.A.T. tracksters make their run at Millrose

By Sebastian Kahnert

Manhattan Academy of Technology’s girls relay team was bursting with excitement after a photo finish on par with City Track at the Girls Youth 4 x 145 m Relay at Madison Square Garden last Friday.

The relay race of the best middle schools in New York City was part of the 101st Millrose Games, a world class annual indoor track meet and this year a qualifying opportunity for the Olympic Summer Games in Bejing.

The M.A.T. team’s enthusiasm mirrored the excitement that one could feel that Friday night in the Garden. M.A.T. qualified for Millrose in an earlier track meet and was one of the few schools to have both its boys and girls teams make the NYAC 4-Lap Relay.

A deafening starting shot echoed off the scarcely filled stands, and Patty Rosa was off to a good start for M.A.T.’s girls relay team. Arelis Domenech and Aviance Burketc, second and third runner for M.A.T., kept the race close with a smooth exchange of the baton, but it all came down to Miranda Cotto. In a head-to-head race with City Track, Cotto sprinted the last 145 meters shoulder-to-shoulder and tied for second place with 1:29.41.

“I was very excited,” Miranda Cotto said after the race, proudly sporting a medal around her neck, “and it was breathtaking to run at M.S.G.”

Despite their close finish, the girls didn’t take their second place for granted.

“You had to run your best,” added Rosa who ran at Madison Square Garden last year, “but this year I was definitely more nervous.”

More and more people kept shuffling into the Garden, and while the officials rushed the girls off the track, it was time for the boys to take the stage.

Malik Crossdale, M.A.T.’s first runner, took the lead immediately, and while M.A.T.’s second and third runners, Christopher Brandt and Terrell Shuler, carried the golden baton ahead of the competition, it looked like a first place finish would be inevitable.

But a failed exchange left the baton on the track and the crowd stunned. And while P.A.L. — 49th Precinct took the lead, Daniel Sexton, M.A.T.’s last runner, closed the gap immediately on the last 145 meters and finished second with 1:28.70.

“I was expecting to come in first place,” said Crossdale, hiding his disappointment under a black baseball cap, “but it was special to run at Madison Square Garden.”

“It was pretty cool,” said a high-spirited Brandt. “I liked it a lot and the competition was pretty close.”

“We could’ve done a lot better than we actually did,” said Sexton, still wearing his red track spikes, “but running at M.S.G. was like an adrenalin rush.”

Feeling elated about his school’s performance, M.A.T.’s athletic director John De Matteo praised his 12-year-old runners for practicing hard, but stressed that the outcome of the race is not all that matters.

“The real purpose of running is not to win or lose,” he said, “but to test what’s inside you.”

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