Girls Winter Track 4×400 team qualifies for Nationals


Courtesy of PHS Girls Cross Country and Track and Field (@phs.xctf on Instagram)

The 4×400 meter relay team. (From left to right: Brooke’Lyn Drakeford, Enobong George, Madison Morgan, and Tamara Rawles)

On Sunday, March 13th, 2022, the girls winter track 4×400 meter relay team will be running at the New Balance Indoor Nationals Emerging Elite at the Armory Indoor Track in New York City for the 4×400 meter Rising Stars relay competition. Senior Captain Tamara Rawles, juniors Brooke’Lyn Drakeford and Enobong George, and sophomore Madison Morgan will be representing Piscataway High School in the 4×400.

About two months prior to nationals, the 4×400 team placed fourth in State Group 4 Relays, ranking them eighth in the state of New Jersey with a combined time of 4:13.46, the race that qualified them for nationals.

“Wait… did we really just qualify?!,” was junior captain Brooke’Lyn Drakefords’ reaction to the news when she learned that she and the rest of the 4×400 squad qualified for nationals. Disbelief was a universal reaction between all four of the girls. “I expected that I would do well, but not enough to make the team qualify,” said junior Enobong George “I’m glad that my expectations [were] proved wrong.”

Reaching the national level of competition is both a goal and a desire for every high school runner.

For senior Tamara Rawles, “It’s always been a dream of mine,” and “[a] long-term goal I had for myself since freshman year.”

The four girls have come off of a stellar cross country and winter track season so far. Sophomore Madison Morgan achieved all-division status after coming in tenth during the White Division Championships, helping Piscataway Girls Cross Country win their first Division Championship since 1996. On January 26th, Brooke’Lyn Drakeford placed fifth in the New Jersey Metropolitan Invitational Varsity Girls 200 meter dash with a time of 26.32 seconds, Tamara Rawles finished tenth with a time of 27.00 seconds, and Enobong George finished eleventh with a time of 27.05 seconds in the same event.

But the training is not over yet. Just because the girls qualified for the Rising Stars 4×400 relay, does not mean they cannot qualify themselves further into the championship 4×400 meter relay. In order to do so, the girls will have to work their combined time down to 4:04.

Between the workouts and saturday morning practices in sometimes below 20℉ temperatures, head girls track coach Ashwin Anantharaman believes they have the “discipline and work effort to get there” and knows “they are going to continue to make Pway proud.” He attributes their continued success to both the girls and the sprinter coach Camisha Pierson.

Hopes for the meet are running high within both the girls and the coaches. Enobong is very proud of her continued progress at the 400 meter distance and hopes to break her personal record.

For Brooke’Lyn, the goal is “to go out there and run strong,” and for Tamara she expects “to medal, and to honestly go out there and have fun,” and says that “at Nationals, the atmosphere can be really intense but truly, [she] wants [her] team to have fun and show everyone what [they have] been working towards.”

On the coaches’ side, although the teams’ competitors in the 4×400 are still unknown, Coach Anantharaman says, “we are not afraid of any team we go up against. The confidence our team has is important to our success. No matter who is there, we will be ready. We are excited for an opportunity to race the best.”

Once nationals have passed, the effects of Piscataway’s participation will last long past the meet. National Championships at the high school level are filled to the brim with scouts for prestigious colleges looking to fill up their track and field rosters.

Brooke’Lyn is especially excited for the “exposure of running against teams from all across the country,” and after high school, Tamara will be running for Central Connecticut State University’s track team.

For sophomore Madison, after nationals, she plans to “[continue] to work hard and perfect my craft. The goal is to get a scholarship and hopefully continue running in college,” and is looking forward to the journey ahead of her.

Nationals for every high school runner is a dream, but for the PHS girls 4×400 relay team, Indoor Track Nationals is just the beginning.

You can watch the girls compete on Sunday, March 13th, 2022 at 12:04 PM (unless they qualify further for the championship race, which will take place on the same day at 3:02 PM) either in person at the Armory in New York City for $12 and with proof of vaccination or you can livestream the meet for free here.