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Phyllis Francis looks to close out college career in style

Published by
ArmoryTrack.com   Jun 11th 2014, 2:42pm

By Jack Pfeifer

Phyllis Francis (Catherine McAuley HS, Brooklyn) had a spectacular indoor NCAA meet, breaking the collegiate and American records in the individual 400 (50.46), then catching Ashley Spencer of Texas by inches at the line to win the 4x4 for her Oregon team, giving the Ducks the team title by half a point over the Longhorns.

At this year’s outdoor meet, which begins on Wednesday in Eugene, Ore., she will have new challenges. She faces two additional Texas quartermilers, Courtney Okolo, who set the outdoor collegiate record (50.03) in the Big 12 championships, and her freshman teammate, Kendall Baisden (50.46), in the 400, where they will be joined by Spencer (51.38) – the defending champion in the event from a year ago, when she ran for Illinois – and yet another Longhorn, Briana Nelson (51.22).

The Ducks and Longhorns also expect to tangle again in the 4x4. Francis also runs 2nd leg on Oregon’s excellent 4x100 team.

Phyllis’s younger sister, Claudia (Cardozo, Queens), did not qualify for the semifinals in the 800 but is an alternate in the 4x4 and thus may compete in the preliminary round.

The Francis sisters are two of 29 native New Yorkers competing in this week’s NCAA meet, competing for 24 different college teams, according to the Armory’s survey. Seven of those are graduates of PSAL schools, two from the CHSAA and one from the Ivy League system. Five others are from NYC suburban schools, 14 from Upstate.

PSAL Columbus HS, Bronx – Whitney Fountain (Clemson), long jump; Medgar Evers, Brooklyn – Nyanka Joseph (U Conn), 4x4; Janice Jackson (UTEP/Jamaica), 100 hurdles; Francis Lewis, Queens – Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (Purdue), hammer; Cardozo, Queens – Claudia Francis (Oregon), 4x4; Ahty Johnson (South Carolina), 200, 4x1, 4x4; Alexis Panisse (Tennessee), 800

CHSAA Catherine McAuley, Brooklyn – Phyllis Francis; St. Anthony’s, LI – Olicia Williams (Baylor), 4x4

Ivy League Eddie Owens (Princeton), steeplechase

Suburban Suffern – Jen Clayton (Central Fla), LJ, 4x1, 4x4; Monroe-Woodbury – Megan Patrignelli (Oregon), steeplechase; Roslyn -- Emily Lipari (Villanova), 1500; Cornwall Central -- Aisling Cuffe (Stanford), 5k; Central Islip – Ryan Satchell (Virginia), triple jump. Lipari has had a tremendous senior season for ‘Nova, including winning the NCAA indoor mile and anchoring three Championships of America at the Penn Relays. She has never placed in the outdoor 1,500. Cuffe, a recordsetter in high school, has had an outstanding junior year at Stanford and is a contender in the 5k, where she will be up against Abbey D’Agostino, the two-time defending champion from Dartmouth.

Upstate This large group includes Brycen Spratling (Webster-Schroeder HS, Webster), a senior at Pitt who is one of the contenders in the men’s 400 (best of 45.09). Spratling also anchors the Panthers’ 4x4, which won the Penn Relays this spring for Pitt’s first win in that race in 75 years. “We have a shot at winning the NCAA 4x4,” the Pitt coach, Alonzo Webb, said. “We are not intimidated by Texas A&M and Florida.”

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