Uniondale’s girls’ track and field program is striving to get back to the level of success it enjoyed year after year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday afternoon in the Nassau Class AAA championship meet hosted by MacArthur High School, the Knights placed a solid fourth in the 18-team field with 44 points, led by county champion Chica Akazi in the 100-meter hurdles.
Akazi was also runner-up in the 400 hurdles by a slim margin and anchored Uniondale’s 4-x100 relay which placed third to earn All-County honors. She’ll be concentrating on the 100 hurdles at next week’s state qualifier, longtime coach Leigh Pollett said.
“She set PRs in both events at counties and the goal is to win the public school state championship in the 100 hurdles,” Pollett said of Akazi, who won the county crown with a time of 14.56 seconds in the event. “It’s her third year in the program and her work ethic is second to none. She earns everything she achieves. She has a gift and her work ethic sets her apart.”
Akazi, who in the winter won the county title in the 55 hurdles, finished a hair behind Farmingdale’s Kayla Kwas in Monday’s 400. Kwas won in 1:05.03 and Akazi’s time was 1:05.46. Third place was nearly two seconds behind the lead pair.
“We talked after the county meet and Chica decided she’s going to focus on the 100 at the state qualifier,” said Pollett, in his 37th year at the helm. “She’s ranked No. 2 in the public schools and her best is only one-tenth of a second off the best time.”
Senior Aniyah Jackson earned All-County with a third-place finish in the long jump and was also fourth in the triple jump. She too was part of the 4x100 relay along with eighth-graders Jada Murchison and Christian Small.
“Aniyah is with us five years and stood tall and persevered through Covid,” Pollett said. “I’m so proud of her and certainly going to miss her. She’s a special kid and athlete. We’re hoping for a big state qualifier where she’ll concentrate on the long jump.”
Jackson had two “monster long jumps,” Pollett said that were wiped out by fouls at the county meet. “She was only one inch over the board on the fouls, but they were spectacular jumps around 19 feet,” he said.
Senior Victoria Bermeo, a newcomer to the school this past fall, scored in both the discus (fourth place) and pole vault (fifth) at the county meet and was a key factor during the regular season in numerous other events. “She’s another hard worker and a straight-A student,” Pollett said. “She bounced back and forth between both events throughout the meet and did well.”
Other individual event scorers for the Knights were senior Roleine Jean (tied for fourth in high jump) and sophomore Kimora McKay (sixth in the 400 dash.)
Pollett said 78 girls attended tryouts in March, including many freshmen and eighth-graders. “It’s nice to see,” he said. “Covid knocked our program for a loop and we’re trying to get back to the top.”