By Gavin Menu
There is something special and community-minded about the Colgate Women’s Games, which reached their pinnacle on Saturday at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory on the north side of Manhattan.
Never mind that the games include many of the top female track athletes in the Northeast, ranging in age from elementary school to a 30-and-over division. There also seems also to be a feeling of honor and privilege just to be a present at the Armory, which hosted the finals after four weeks of competition at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Running alongside today’s greats, with legends of yesterday, including a few former Olympians, scattered around the state-of-the-art facility as volunteers, was Pierson senior Allura Leggard, who made the decision to break from her winter track team at East Hampton High School to run independently at major meets in New York, including the Colgate Games, which just concluded their 43rd year.
Leggard competed in the 55-meter dash and earned a spot in Saturday’s finals with five other sprinters, all of whom hail from New York City. Iantha Wright from Jamaica High School in Queens dominated the games in the 55 meters and finished first on Saturday in 7.21 seconds. Leggard finished last among the six runners in 7.549 seconds, but as many pointed out, just being at the Armory on Saturday was victory enough.
“I first started coming to these meets in December and I wasn’t even near the top six,” Leggard said as she waited several hours between Saturday’s opening ceremony and the final sprint events. “It’s a huge accomplishment for me, because not only are you running against the best sprinters in New York, but also New Jersey, Pennsylvania and all around the Northeast.”
Leggard made the decision to compete independently this winter in an effort to gain increased exposure to college coaches, which, she said, she had succeeded in doing. She has narrowed her list of college choices to Ithaca College, Quinnipiac University, Syracuse University and the University of Miami. The latter two are big time Division I schools, and Leggard admits she has to improve even further before she can compete at that level.
“The process is going well, but there are some schools I need to keep in contact with because my time is not where they want it yet,” said Leggard, who travels to the Armory twice every week to train with coaches.
Leggard ran a time of 7.36 in the fourth week of the Colgate Games, which would have been the fourth best time in Suffolk County for high school indoor track this winter. Leggard plans to compete with East Hampton for the outdoor season this spring, where she runs the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
“I do miss being on a team,” she confessed. “In the end I had to do what I needed to do, and in team sports it can’t be all about me, which I recognize. I needed to have a chance for it to be about me so I could progress a little bit more. But I’m coming back for the spring and I’m going to be stronger than ever.”