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Unbeatable ‘off the bend’

John Thomas’ start can pretty much decide the finish to most races.

“I think no one can beat me off the bend,” the Sheepshead Bay junior said. “If I just keep that pace and the speed I am taking out with, no one will be able to beat me. They will be able to chase me.”

That’s exactly what happened at the beginning of the 400 meters at the New York State Federation outdoor track and field Championships at Cicero−North Syracuse HS last weekend. Brown, who was in lane six after taking it easy in the trials, burst out of the blocks and led the whole way. He won the race in a time of 48.24. Edison Tech’s Jonathan Santana was second in 48.84.

“He took out so hard and he was already in lane six,” Sharks coach John Padula said. “All the other kids tried to chase him down. They were closing on him a little bit, but he won by a lot.”

By the end of the season Thomas is hoping to break the school record time of 47.2 set by future Olympian Mike Sands in 1971. The faster competition at the Nike Nationals, from June 18−20 in Greensboro, N.C., will give him a better chance to do so or get closer.

“I don’t know if I’m going to win but there are going to be faster people,” Thomas said. “It will really help me to push myself.”

Padula believes finding top level competition close to come home next season for Thomas may not be easy. His main competitor, Medgar Evers’ Jermaine Brown, will not be able to run in the PSAL next season because his eligibility will be up since he moved to the U.S. from Jamaica and he’ll be too old.

“I don’t see people in the Northeast who are going to be able to push him next year,” Padula said. “We will try to travel a lot to get him some good races.”

The Sharks also got another glimpse into their future in the 4 x 100 relay. Senior stars Ayo Isijola (hamstring) and Darryl Bradshaw (hip) missed the race. They were part of a national championship team last year. Padula said Bradshaw, who is heading to Bethune−Cookman, could have run, but he didn’t want to risk him getting injured further. Isijola will play football at Rhode Island next fall. The team of Richmond Ahadzi, Paul Fyffe, Naquan Alexander and Thomas won the event in a time of 42.05.

“The team we have now is going to be our featured team next year,” Thomas said. “We just have to work with it. Right now we are a very young team. We have a good chance to come back next year and dominate.”

The squad, which did not run exceptionally well in the trials, got extra motivation from the opposition. The night before the final, Padula said, the team’s rooms were receiving trash−talking phone calls from some of their competitors.

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