Cardozo High School hurdler Lateisha Philson is known for her explosive starts. But it a spectactular finish that defined her junior season.
On March 1, at the Eastern States Invitational during the indoor season, Philson badly strained her right hamstring when she leaned at the finish of the 55-meter hurdles finals. She won the race, but knew the injury was serious.
“I was really hurt,” said Philson.
Philson missed the New York PHSAA state championships and the New Balance Indoor Nationals. She set into a physical therapy regimen. She didn’t return to the track until May 14 of the outdoor season at the Glenn D. Loucks Games in White Plains, winning the 100-meter hurdles.
Philson ran four races in helping Cardozo win its fourth-straight PSAL City Championship on June 5. Still, she was hesitant.
Philson passed on the New York state outdoor PHSAA championship and the New Balance Outdoor Nationals to rest the injury. She underwent an MRI on the hamstring in late June. The results came back negative.
“Everything was clean with the MRI,” said Philson. “So that calmed my nerves.”
Philson ran a personal best of 13.93 in the 100-meter hurdles at the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation Youth Series at Icahn Stadium on June 25.
“I was more confident,” said Philson. “My club coach (Charles Weekes) had me run at some small meets to try and run (in the) 13s to see how it felt. It boosted my system to know that I could run lower times.”
At the World Youth Trials in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on June 29, Philson placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.69, the fastest time ever for a junior in the state of New York.
“It’s really a blessing,” said Philson. “It’s great that it’s finally healed…. I just felt proud. So proud.”
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Cardozo coach Gail Emmanuel. “She’s a tough kid. She’s run through injuries before. I think this boosts her confidence in that she knows she’s got the strength and she’s without those obstacles.”
Philson’s season isn’t over. She will compete with her Queens-based Ruff Kutz club team at AAU meets in Orlando, Fla. this week and in New Orleans on Aug. 6. But now, it is with a clarity of purpose and the knowledge that no matter how hard she goes, she can keep pushing.
“I didn’t think that I’d be able to recover so quickly,” said Philson. “My next goal is to go 13.5.
“I know I can go faster. I’m extremely confident in that.”