When Brandon Marquez steps on the track, the results are rarely ordinary. He doesn’t race often, but when he does, he brings it. Today was no different, as Marquez won the 17-18 year old age group at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships in a national record time of 8:40.3. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that he ran unchallenged from start to finish. Marquez didn’t trail for even a single step, in one of the most dominant performances in Junior Olympic history.
Winning has become a habit for the 17 year old Marquez. So much so that it is no longer his main focus. When he toed the line at UNF’s Hodges Stadium this morning, he had one thing on his mind; the national record. After a successful race, the very relaxed Marquez was all smiles. “I was very pleased with my race, especially seeing as 8:40 was so easy and relaxed today.” said Marquez. “Being able to run this fast in the transition phase between Track and Cross Country, gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
As far as Cross Country goes, Brandon isn’t afraid to share his ambitious goals. He said “My goals for Cross Country are no secret. I want to make Foot Locker this year, and hopefully have a strong race there.” That goal is well within reach, as Marquez missed a trip to San Diego last year by only one place. This year, he is stronger, and looking to run even faster in the fall. Since he doesn’t compete with his high school, his racing options are slim, however he says he would like to race a bit more frequently this year, in preparation for the Foot Locker South Regionals. However before shifting his full focus to Cross Country, Brandon has one more goal to wrap up his summer. “I have one more race this season, Sunday in the 1500m finals.” said Brandon. “I want to hopefully set another national record in that race, and in doing so improve on my PR.”
Brandon holds a 1500m PR of 3:59, and after his dominant performance in the 3000, he will no doubt go in as the favorite on Sunday.
Tyrese Cooper Cruises To 400m Prelim Victory
(Cooper and fellow meet record holder Brandon Marquez posed for a picture after his easy 400m prelim victory in 48.14.)
Only an 8th grader, Tyrese Cooper of Miami Gardens Express, has quickly taken the State, and the Nation by storm. Earlier in the season, Cooper, nicknamed “Smoke,” was the Middle School State Champion in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. Just when we thought he couldn’t get more impressive, he turned in an unforgettable performance at the Golden South Classic in May, where he ran 10.80, 21.60, and 47.13. However Cooper is saving his best performances for last, at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships. He is proving that he is in peak shape, after running a national record of 20.98 in the 200m prelims earlier this week. Then today he turned in an effortless 48.14 to take his heat in the 400m prelims. He’s having no trouble living up to the hype so far, and only looks to get better from here.
After his sub 21 in the 200m prelims, talk began to shift to Obea Moore’s national 400m record of 45.99. Moore’s record is often looked at as one of the best performances in prep history, and now Cooper has a chance to better that mark. Just being compared with Moore is a surreal feeling for the humble 8th grader. “It feels great to be in the same conversation with Obea Moore.” said a hardly out of breath Cooper following his easy 48.14 prelim. His coach, Darius Lawshea, who recently accepted the head coaching job at American High School, said that he has no doubt, Cooper is capable of such times. “Right now he’s just focused on getting to the finals as easily as possible” said Lawshea. “From there if he gives me the thumbs up, I know he’ll be ready for a big performance in the finals.”
All eyes will be on Cooper in the finals, not just in the 400, but the 200 as well. After his record breaking 20.98, both Cooper and his coach believe he will lower that record even further. “I can for sure go faster in the 200” said Cooper. “On the right day, I can take it down even further.” There’s no doubt he is on another level from the other competitors, pre race he has a completely different demeanor than his competitors; focused, relaxed, and confident.
If the conditions are right for the finals, it would hardly be a surprise to see a special performance from Tyrese Cooper. No longer a surprise performer, Cooper is ready to live up to the expectations.