The Manhattan Academy of Technology Dragons capped off a championship sports year by winning the Department of Education’s first ever citywide track and field series on Sat., June 21 at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island.
In a year where M.A.T. won the Manhattan girls soccer championship, the girls city cross country title, the girls Mayor’s Cup in table tennis, the CHAMPS NYC middle school volleyball title and the city boys baseball title, the icing on the cake was the most competitive prize: being named the best track and field program in New York.
“There simply aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how proud I am of my student athletes this year,” coach John De Matteo said. “What we’ve done with our kids and with our sports program has been beyond my wildest expectations.”
The D.O.E. Developmental Track & Field series spanned over two months, consisting of more than 60 track and field meets in all five boroughs. An estimated 10,000 children in grades 3 through 8 competed this year. De Matteo created the series back in 2003 with just a few schools in Lower Manhattan.
“I had an idea for a track and field series so my children could have the experience of competing against other schools,” De Matteo said. “Today it has become a monstrous event. There are more kids running now in New York than ever before. I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
The growing league received support from the D.O.E.’s office of fitness and health, along with Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation and the New York Road Runners Foundation
Leading the way for the Dragons were the 8th grade duo of Shaakira Harewood and Tafarii McKenzie, who shattered city records. Shaakira won the shot put, won the 100 meters in 13.12 seconds, anchored the 4 x 100 meter relay team and anchored the winning Manhattan all-star relay team. Tafarii won the 400 in a top 100 national time of 63.1 seconds, she won the mile in 5:50 seconds and ran lead off on the relay team, which also won.
“Shaakira has proved herself as one of the best athletes in the city, and she will be missed,” De Matteo said. “No one was even close to her this year in any event. When she got the baton in the relay, she was back by 20 meters and came back to lean at the finish to win by .03 of a second.”
On the boys side, 6th grader Malik Crossdale, who is ranked in the top 10 in the country in the 400 meters, won both the 400 and the 200 in record times and anchored the relay team to a second place finish.
“Malik will continue to dominate running at this level and our goal for him is to excel in college track and field at a Division 1 program on a scholarship,” De Matteo said. “The Olympics are not a far-fetched notion for this young man.”
Also placing well for M.A.T. was Chris Johnson who came in second in the long jump with a jump of 15 feet 4 inches; Patty Rosa who came in 4th in the 400; the relay team of Malik Crossdale, Jamar Easterling, Benny Heung and Aaron Smalls who came in second; the relay team of James Stefanik, Emmanuel Mendoza, Wayne Johnson and Jose Fernandez who won; and the relay team of Shaakira Harewood, Ashley Thomas, Tafarri McKenzie and Jubilee Domenech who also took home the relay title.
M.A.T. will kick off the summer season of their athletics program with their surfing team and look forward to the fall where the girls will defend their first ever N.Y.C. soccer championship.