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Track star Panisse finishes a champion

Benjamin Cardozo celebrates its fifth-straight PSAL outdoor title. Photo by Joseph Staszewski
TimesLedger Newspapers

Alexis Panisse has never stopped pushing herself. Cardozo’s Tennessee-bound star doesn’t have much competition when it comes to PSAL meets, but she is still competing against herself and for her teammates.

“I just wanted to win for everyone today, for the whole team,” Panisse said. “It’s my last year.”

She ran her final league meet like she has every other — hard and not taking a meter off. Panisse won the 3000 meters, the 800 and was the anchor leg of the winning 4x800 relay team of Sabrina Southerland, Kesha Meda King and Denise Branch with times of 10:21.25, 2:11.48 and 9:13.72.

Her performance helped the Judges claim their fifth straight PSAL track and field outdoor title Sunday at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. Cardozo was first with 88 points, Clinton second with 75 points and Medgar Evers scored 62 points to place third.

“If [my teammates] are pushing, I have to push three times as hard to get the win,” Panisse said. “I’m proud of all of them.”

It was a meet, unlike others in the past, that Judges Coach Gail Emmanuel wasn’t nervous coming into. She felt that if her runners performed up to their standards, things would work out the way she and assistant Coach Ray James figured on paper. Cardozo won despite Miami-bound sprinter Lateisha Philson suffering a hamstring injury during the 100 meter trials and being unable to compete in the final and the 4x100.

“We have had the experience of where we had four girls [scoring],” Emmanuel said. “We kind of knew that everything worked out we knew we had it because we know what the girls had.”

One of the biggest reasons, along with Panisse, was the junior Southerland, the heir apparent to the position of Cardozo’s top runner. She won the 1500 and was second in the 800 with times of 4:36.15 and 2:12.54. Southerland was most pleased with the 1500 as she came in trying to break 4:40. Emmanuel praised her after the meet and feels she is ready to become a bigger leader next season. Teammates Akayla Anderson and Sandreka Bancroft were first and second in the 100 hurdles in 14:24 and 14.62, respectively.

“Next year we are not going to have her,” Southerland said of Panisse “I’m still going to work to do what she did.”

For one more afternoon, Cardozo was happy to have its star running for them. Panisse ran no different than she had from Day 1 of her tremendous senior season. Despite what is waiting for her down the road, she was still driven to win not just for herself but for all those around her.

“It really stands out,” Emmanuel said. “She‘s so hungry, you would swear she is [still trying] to sign a scholarship. She is not acting like a kid who already signed.”

Winners circle: Medgar Evers’ Kadecia Baird took home the sprint titles, winning the 100, 200 and 400 with times of 11.83, 23.95 and 55.63.

Brooklyn Tech’s Kassandra Pierce took home the 400 meter crown in 1:02.34 and Christiana Melian was the 2000 steeplechase champ with a mark of 7:00.45. Ji Wong Kang took the 1500 race walk with a time of 7:18.09.

DeWitt Clinton’s Brittany Adams took first in the pentathlon with 31,689 points and was a member of the winning 4x400 relay with Dypna Umunkwe, Felicia Walker and Marlena Wright in 3:56.58.

Truman’s Treasure Glymph won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet 4 inches, Dina Guitierrez took the pole vault (8-00) and Medgar Evers Ashley Tasher took the long jump with a leap of 17-08.50. Simone Grant of Columbus places first in the triple jump (37-10.75), Boys & Girls; Keziann Jones was the shot put champ in 37-10 and Desiree Gordon won the discus with a toss of 97-09. Jamie Wong of Francis Lewis was first in the javelin in 103-06.

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