Thousands of girls and young women from all over the east coast competed recently in the first preliminary meet of the Colgate Women’s Games, the nation’s largest female amateur track series, and the unofficial opening of the winter indoor track season.

On Friday, Dec. 16, the High School division featured record-breaking attendance, as PSAL student athletes and other newcomers, joined returning Colgate Games veterans to set a fast pace for the season. Meet Director Fred Thompson welcomed the additional competition, calling it great for the Games and good for the sport.

“For nearly 40 years, the Colgate Women’s Games have welcomed any eligible female athlete. We strive to be all-inclusive, which is why participation in the Colgate Games is still completely free. We’re proud to welcome this year’s PSAL student participants, whose involvement can only raise the level of excitement throughout the series, and further our mission to remain the gold-standard in amateur competition.”

Friday’s High School meet featured several of last season’s mid-school stars, returning as high school freshman to lead their events:

Sandreeka Bancroft of Queens, N.Y., who last year set a Colgate Games mid-school 55-meter hurdles record (7.9), is now a freshman at Cardozo High School and took the High School 55-meter hurdles in 8.2.

Bronx sisters Arial and Arianne Strunkey, now freshmen at Holocome Rucker High School, tied for first in the 200 meters in 26.0, the fastest opening time in many years according to meet officials.

Kanae Taylor, a freshman at Philadelphia’s Engineering and Science High School, took the 800 meters in 2:22.3

Among other returning competitors: Lateisha Philson, of Cardozo High School, who last year set the Colgate Games High School division 55-meter hurdles record (7.6), took the 55-meter dash in a fast 6.9; Olicia Williams of St. Anthony High School in Long Island, N.Y., took the 400 meters in 58.4; and Adrienne Alexander, a senior at Brooklyn’s Bishop Loughlin, who holds the mid-school shot put record (12.2M), took first place with a toss of 12.6M.

The Mid-School division competition also opened with impressive performances:

Tia Livingston of Quibbletown Middle School in Piscataway, NJ won the 55-meter hurdles in 8.5; Kiara Lester of Monongahela Middle School in Sewell, NJ won the 200 meters in 26.9;

Philadelphia’s Brooklyn Broadwater of AMY Northwest Middle School scored a double win, taking first in the 400 meters in 60.0, and the 800 in 2:27.9; and Gabrielle Wilkinson, and Brooklyn’s Shayla Broughton of PS/IS 202 took first with an opening high jump of 5’4”

This year’s opening meet is the earliest calendar date to start the series, and Thompson calls opening scores extraordinary.

“The combination of record-breaking participation, and fewer weeks of training, make some of theses early scores very impressive. We’re looking forward to another successful championship season, and a fitting start to an Olympic year.”

Four preliminary meets and a semi-finals at Pratt determine finalists who will compete at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, where trophies and educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company are awarded to top place finishers in each age/grade division, from elementary school through college and beyond.

The 38th annual Colgate Women’s Games are the nation’s longest running corporate-sponsored event benefiting young people, and the largest amateur track and field series for women. The Games have produced more than 20 Olympians, hundreds of age/grade division national champions, and countless changed lives.

Coaches, recruiters, athletes, fans and press can follow scores by division and locale, each week at