Ariel Strunkey, 25.9; and Simone Grant, 25.8. in a close finish in the High School 200-meter race.

Photo by Lem Peterkin

Among thousands of athletes competing in the nation’s largest women’s track and field series last weekend at the Colgate Women’s Games at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, were some of the youngest competitors who created more than their fair share of excitement.

Sandreeka Bankcroft, a freshman at Cardozo High School in Queens, remained undefeated in the 55-meter hurdles, after her third consecutive 8.2 sec. performance was enough to beat a field of veteran seniors. Bancroft set the Colgate Women’s Games mid-school hurdles record last year in 7.9, and is one of several athletes who this year have moved into a higher age/grade division, where they’ve quickly proved they can compete and lead.

Kenae Taylor is another former mid school champion that has returned as a High School division leader. The freshman from Philadelphia’s Engineering and Science High School, scored her third consecutive first place win in the 800 meters, 2:24.3

Queens champion Lateisha Philson, a teammate of Bancroft’s at Cardozo, who set a Colgate Women’s Games High School 55-meter hurdles record last year (7.6), has chosen the 55-meter dash this season, and remains undefeated after winning in 6.9.

Simone Grant of Pelham Prep in the Bronx, won the 200 meters in 25.8, just 1/10th of a second in front of Ariel Strunkey (25.9), of Holcombe L. Rucker High School also of the Bronx.

In the Mid-School division, Jameelah Muhammed of Philadelphia’s Harambee Institute of Science and Technology, won the 55 meters in 7.2; Brooklyn Broadwater, from Philadelphia’s AMY Northwest School took the 400 Meters in 58.8; Tia Livingston of Quibbletown Middle School in Piscattaway, won the 55-meter hurdles in 8.5; and Kiera Lester of Monogahela Middle School in New Jersey, won the 200 meters in 26.4.

Also in the mid school division, newcomer, Briana Gess of Hattonfield Middle School, scored a double win, taking the 800 meters (2:25.9), and 1500 meters (4:56.3). Saturday’s third preliminary, was the New Jersey seventh grader’s first experience at the Colgate Games.

Kanae Taylor wins the High School 800-meter in 2.24.2.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

Meet Director Fred Thompson said Briana was one of thousands of promising girls discovering their athletic gifts at a critical age.

“The Colgate Women’s Games often help younger girls find their hidden talent, but sometimes hidden talent finds us,” said Thompson about Briana.

“We continue to provide a friendly, positive experience, and are enjoying a year where our younger participants are sharing the spotlight with returning champions. These are good signs of great things to come for these girls if they’ll continue to work hard,” said Thompson.

One more preliminary meet, and a semi-finals at Pratt will 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.

The Colgate Women’s Games have produced more than 20 Olympians, hundreds of age/grade division national champions, and countless changed lives. Each year, High school participants are among the most heavily recruited athletes by colleges and universities across the nation. Coaches, recruiters, athletes and fans can follow scores each week at

Tickets to the Colgate Women’s Games Finals are free. To order tickets, please visit, the MSG box office or For Colgate competitors, attendees, and families, we have created a 10 percent discount offer to the U.S. Open Track and Field event. Via Ticketmaster, enter code COLGATE to receive the discount, (a $1.25 fee may apply), or present your Colgate Women’s Games ticket stub at the Box Office window on the day of the event for the discount.

Mid-School High Jump – Shayla Sanders, 4 ft. 6 in.
Photos by Lem Peterkin

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