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Up-and-coming Crawford shines at New Balance Games for Robeson

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It wasn’t love at first sight with track and field for Paul Robeson’s Amanda Crawford, but it was meant to be.

The 14-year-old sophomore, who entered high school a year ahead of time, had never run track until she met guidance counselor and coach Anthony Williams last year. The distance running that comes with cross-country wasn’t to her liking starting out. All that changed when the races shortened and went indoors for the winter.

“It was really hard,” the soft-spoken Crawford said of distance running. “Then I got to indoor and it was really fun, so it’s fun now.”

Crawford finished second in a personal-best time of 39.68 thanks to a great surge around the final turn in the invitational 300 meters at the New Balance Games at the Armory last Saturday afternoon. It was the third-best time in New York State this season. Her performance was not a surprise to her coach.

“When I got her freshmen year, I’d say probably the first practice we knew we had somebody special,” Williams said.

What impressed him the most was her work ethic and composure at such a young age. He said she is always going hard whether it is in her track work or even just her warm up.

Competing against varsity runners as a freshman helped prepare her for a breakout sophomore year. Williams said she was usually nervous before a big race, but never intimidated.

“She’s handled it well,” the coach said. “She can’t compare it to anything. This is a great experience for her. The big stage really doesn’t frighten her.”

Crawford is front-runner in the classroom as well. She has already completed all her high school regent exams and took three advanced placement classes in the fall, according to Williams.

Crawford said she still feels like a baby on the track, but understands that the sky is the limit for her in the future. She hopes to get her 300 time under 38 seconds this season. Her name is getting more and more well known in the process, especially competing in meets like the New Balance Games that feature some of the top runners in the nation as well and professionals.

“I’m getting more exposure every time I run with older girls,” Crawford said. “It makes me better.”

Exactly how much better remains to be seen.

Medgar Evers’s Thompson, Broughton each place second after slow starts: Cougars stars Brenessa Thompson and Shayla Broughton both took silver medals at the New Balance Games. Thompson was second in the invitational 55-meter dash with a personal-best time of 7.13.

“I have a really good finish and I always close on people, but it’s just my start I need to work on,” Thompson said.

Broughton, who came into the invitational 55 hurdles as the favorite, didn’t get a good push out of the starting blocks. A late surge gave her at time of 8.16 and a second-place finish.

“I wasn’t really used to the blocks,” Broughton said. “I didn’t get out of the blocks fast.”

Paul Robeson’s Kiambu Gall was third in the boys 300 meter invitational with a time of 34.55.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
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