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Van Buren defends Queens track crown

As when going into battle, you can’t go into a track meet without a plan of action.

Edison Tobey, filling in for Campus Magnet coach Derek Taylor, knew that last Wednesday at the PSAL boys’ Queens championships when he blanketed his team’s brigade of sprinters across the individual events, hoping to gorge themselves on a virtual buffet of points ranging from the 100 meters all the way up to the 800 meters.

Van Buren coach Marty Laskin strategized that his team would be best served trying to topple the field events — encircle the jumps, capture the throws and claim the hurdles — and the Queens Village school would repeat as the Queens borough champions.

The battle lines were drawn. The combat in the trenches fierce. But ultimately Van Buren, with a flurry of points in the hurdles and and a strong showing in the jumps and throws, was able to upend Magnet for the Queens title.

“I’ve never been more exhausted and more exhilirated in my life,” Laskin said. “We had 20 guys on the team and 18 of them scored to win this championship. It was truly a team effort.”

Despite giving away a significant amout of points on the track to Magnet, the field events, coupled with an inspired effort from the Van Buren hurdlers, allowed the VeeBees to defend their Queens title.

“Gone are the days when you can win a championship just through runing events,” said Laskin. “Seventy seven of our points were obtained through field events and 56 were gotten through the running events.”

Van Buren was able to withstand a flood of points from Campus on the track, as the Bulldogs piled up places in the sprint events with a sweep of the 200 meters, first and second in the 400 meters, and a gold in the 100 meters, as well. Kedar Inico claimed both the 200 meters and 400 meters, while teammate Jamicha Mayers captured the 800 meters and finished a close second to his teammate in the one-lap event.

“I’m not the type of person who runs well in the rain,” said Mayers of the conditions. “But today I just pulled through.”

Inico, the defending national indoor champion at 400 meters, used the meet as a tune-up for the city championships. The senior will be participating in the Junior National Championships in June and possibly the prestigious Golden West Invitational in California as well.

“It was a little bit of a practice run today, but I ran smoothly,” said Inico, who is being courted by Illinois, South Carolina, and USC for his services.

While the sprints were awash with green jerseys, Van Buren was able to turn away Campus with a balanced effort across the board. While some runners wanted to run individually, Laskin knew that to contend for the championship certain athletes would have to put their individual aspirations aside and compete on a relay to find more points.

“I pulled people out of running events and put them on relays,” said Laskin, “because that was the only way we were going to win.”

The win helped a Van Buren program that struggled in cross country and took third indoors to redeem itself, re-establishing itself among its peers in the borough of Queens.

“People underrated us because we had a horrible cross-country season and because we fell to third indoors,” said Laskin. “When we went outdoors, I told everybody not to count us out.”

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