Shore AC Star Teammate Overcomes Injuries and More to Dominate Masters Throwing Ranks
TAKE NOTE: TEAMMATES -
THE USA NATIONAL MASTERS INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS IS COMING TO THE ARMORY TRACK CENTER IN N.Y.C. NEXT YEAR AND ANYONE AGE 25 OR OVER IS ELIGIBLE TO ENTER AND TAKE PART. THE MEET HAS OFTEN BEEN HELD IN DISTANT PARTS OF THE NATION, BUT ON MARCH 18-19-20, 2022, IT TAKES PLACE IN OUR OWN BACKYARD!!!! THUS, WE URGE ALL OF YOU TO:(A) TRAIN HARD, GET IN SUPER SHAPE.(B) MAKE PLANS TO BE AT MASTERS INDOOR NATIONALS MARCH 18-19-20 AT THE ARMORY. ENTRIES CLOSE QUITE EARLY AND USATF-NJ MEMBERSHIP IS REQUIRED TO REPRESENT SHORE AC....SO GET THIS DONE, SIGN UP EARLY, AND GET READY FOR A TRULY TREMENDOUS EVENT...THE PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN IS ALREADY UNDERWAY AND HERE IS A TERRIFIC ARMORYTRACK.COM STORY FEATURING OUR OWN ILLUSTRIOUS TEAMMATE, ONEITHEA "NENI" LEWIS.
(Reprinted courtesy of Track.Com) STORY BELOW
By Owen Mittenthal, Armorytrack.com
Resilience is one of the most important qualities that an athlete can possess. No matter how much talent one has, there will inevitably be setbacks on the path to greatness, and it takes mental grit and tenacity to overcome these obstacles. One such challenge would be overcoming a major injury and returning to one’s previous level of performance. Not hard enough? Try beating a dozen or so major injuries.
That would describe Neni Lewis, a diminutive figure who has beaten the odds over and over to become arguably the world’s top thrower at the Masters level. The 61-year-old New York native holds eleven age group world records in the weight throw, hammer throw, and throws pentathlon, despite suffering serious injuries to her neck, shoulder, knees, and hand over the course of her career, to list just a few. She will look to add to her world record haul when she competes at next year’s USATF Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships. This meet, scheduled for March 18th-20th, 2022, will take place at the New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory.
“I just bounce back all the time. I’m a glutton for punishment,” said Lewis. “In 2012, I hurt my neck and had cervical spine surgery. I have 19 pins and screws and a plate in my neck, they told me I would never throw again. This past summer [at the USATF Masters Championships in Ames], I broke the age group world record in the hammer throw and the American record in the weight throw. I was told I would never ever do this again, so I think that’s a highlight for me.”
Lewis began her athletic career in middle school, playing volleyball and basketball, and competing as a sprinter on the track & field team. Fittingly, it took an injury to recognize her innate throwing talent. Lewis broke her leg while playing soccer in high school gym class, and she began lifting weights while in recovery. Her track coach suggested that she try the shot put, and before long she was placing second in New York State and fourth in the country.
Lewis went on to attend St. John’s University, where she would earn All-American honors in the shot put. She competed at the Olympic Trials in 1980 and 1984, before qualifying for a third Trials in 1988. Lewis had thrown nearly 60 feet that season, putting her in a great position to make the Olympic team. However, her bid was cut short when a car accident injured her hip and back.
While she was unable to achieve her Olympic dream, Lewis got her first taste of big-time international competition at the 1981 World University Games in Bucharest, Romania. Going up against the formidable women of the Eastern Bloc nations, many of whom have been implicated in state-sponsored doping programs, was an intimidating experience for Lewis, but she held her own.
“Just seeing the sheer size of those women was scary,” said Lewis, who stands at just 5’3. “I mean they were hairy, they were twice the size of me. One day in training I was practicing with a little ball that looked like a shot because I had an injury to my hand, and I'm throwing this thing really far. They all came over to see what I was throwing, and they were relieved because they thought I was going to beat them really badly. Even with the real shot, they were surprised I could throw as far as I did.”
Despite her already impressive resume, it was not until Lewis graduated to the Masters ranks that she truly hit her stride. She began focusing more on the weight throw and hammer throw, setting world records in the 40-45, 45-50, and 50-55 year-old age groups in the weight, and the 45-50, 50-55, and 60-65 year-old age groups in the hammer. She also started competing in the throws pentathlon, a grueling event that combines the hammer, shot, discus, javelin, and weight throw. Demonstrating her versatility as a thrower, Lewis has set world records in the 40-45, 45-50, and 50-55 year-old age groups in this event as well. She also holds two indoor age group world records in the weight throw, and too many age group American records to list.
Lewis has accomplished all of this in spite of her staggering injury history. Multiple car accidents, falling off a ladder, torn hand ligaments, bulging spine discs, knee issues, a bad shoulder, a thyroid problem, she has been through it all. A lesser athlete would have quit long ago, but for Lewis, the obstacles only make her more determined.
“My mom was asking me why I keep doing this,” she said. “And I said ‘because I enjoy it.’ Especially if someone tells me that I can’t do something, then I’m really motivated to prove them wrong. You have to do things while you can, because you never know when you won’t be able to. I’m going to keep going until the end. I met this 90-year-old woman who set all sorts of records in Ames, and I told her that I hope to live long enough to break her records.”
Outside of structured training, Lewis enjoys lifting weights recreationally, recently squatting 700 pounds and bench pressing 315 pounds. She lives with her husband in New York City, and works as an administrative assistant. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and driving one of her husband’s Corvettes.
Heading into next year’s USATF Masters Indoor Championships at The Armory, Lewis says that she has her eyes on the age group world record in the weight throw, and the American record in the super weight, a rarely-contested event that features a larger throwing implement. She plans to also compete in the shot put, where she hopes to throw beyond 11 meters (36 feet, 1 inch).
For the first time, any athlete ages 25 and over can compete at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships. For more information about this meet that will feature Lewis and many other inspiring athletes, please visit https://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=14267&mgroup_id=45586&year=2022
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
Cheers once more to Shore AC teammate Sam Allen.
For the second consecutive year, Sam has been announced by the USA Track and Field National Racewalk Committee as winner of the Henry Laskau Memorial Award as
the nation's outstanding men's under-20 racewalker.
A brilliant sixth place in the USA Olympic Trtials 20K Racewak at Springfield, Oregon in July was a highlight of
Sam's 2021 season.
Now a sophomore at Cornell University, the Kingsway (NJ) High School graduate has big plans to rise up in the
senior ranks of USA senior men's racewalking.
And Sam isn't the only star racewalker in the Allen family.
Younger brother Ryan Allen is the national scholastic racewalking champion and hopes to go on to further great things
in 2022, his senior year at Kingsway High School.
Way to go - The Allen Family !!!
We cheer your exploits !!
Olympic Gold Medalist Athing Mu, Millrose Legend Ajee' Wilson Bound for Jack and Lewis Rudin Women’s 800m in the 114th Millrose Games
By Elliott Denman
NEW YORK, NY, Dec. 7, 2021 – One of the best races of the 114th Millrose Games will feature a memorable matchup between two of the brightest stars in American middle distance running in the Jack and Lewis Rudin Women’s 800-meter event.
Athing Mu, the 19-year-old phenom, established herself as the best in the world, and Ajee' Wilson, who has been the class of the event domestically over the past decade, will be on center stage at The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center on Saturday, January 29th.
Mu was dominant in 2021, going undefeated outdoors. In Tokyo, she became the first American to win Olympic gold in the 800m since Madeline Manning in 1968, smashing Wilson’s American record in the process. She added a second gold in the 4x400m relay and lowered the American record further at the Prefontaine Classic, setting the current mark at 1:55.04.
Going into 2022, Mu’s potential is limitless, and she will look to continue her record-setting ways at Millrose.
“Millrose is the ideal place to begin my season,” Mu said. “The audience brings great energy and I always look forward to the atmosphere and competing at The Armory – it's iconic.”
Last week Mu was selected by World Athletics as the 2021 World Athletics Female Rising Star. The World Athletics Female Rising Star Award is given to the top under-20 athlete of the year in the world.
Standing in Mu’s way is the venerable Wilson, a six-time Millrose Games champion who has not lost at this meet since 2013. Wilson reigned supreme at the 2020 Millrose Games, breaking her own indoor American record with a time of 1:58.29.
Wilson has amassed 11 U.S. championships over the course of her career, earned two World Championship bronze medals, and anchored Team USA to a world record in the 4x800m relay at the 2018 Millrose Games.
“It's been a while,” Wilson said, referring to last season’s cancelled Millrose Games due to the pandemic, “so I'm super excited to return to The Armory for the Millrose Games.”
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that both athletes are local products, with Mu hailing from Trenton, NJ, and Wilson from Neptune, NJ. Their tri-state area roots, along with their explosive talent, will make this edition of the women’s Millrose 800m one to remember.
Jamaica middle-distance sensation and Olympian Natoya Goule-Toppin will join Mu and Wilson to add star power in this Millrose Games signature race. Goule-Toppin is one of the top three ranked athletes in the world and is a Pan American Games gold medalist.
“We are so fortunate that Olympic Gold medalist Athing Mu is joining us to compete against Ajee' Wilson, who set the American record at the last Millrose Games,” Armory Foundation Co-President Jonathan Schindel said. “With Jamaican Natoya Goule, a Tokyo Olympic finalist in this event, the Jack & Lewis Rudin women's 800 will be one of the most exciting events at the Millrose Games, a race that most of us can't wait to watch.”
This marks the third consecutive time the Rudin Family has sponsored the women’s 800m at the Millrose Games.
The Rudin family has a long and distinguished history supporting the sport of running and New York City. During the 111th Millrose Games the Rudin family sponsored the women’s 4x800 relay which culminated in a world record. Wilson has set the American indoor record in the last two Jack & Lewis Rudin Women’s 800m.
“We are honored to be associated with the 114th Millrose Games and the Women’s 800m with track & field champions Athing Mu and Ajee' Wilson,” said Eric and Bill Rudin. “With their recent international and national success and their ties to the metropolitan area, Athing and Ajee' are perfect ambassadors to women’s track & field.
“Our fathers were extremely devoted to New York City and the sport of running and sponsoring this event in their names continues to be a fitting tribute.”
The Millrose Games is the most storied event in indoor track and field. Stay tuned over the coming months as more athletes are announced for the 114th Millrose Games. U.S. Olympic Trials champions and Tokyo Olympic finalists Elle Purrier St. Pierre and Cole Hocker were the first two athletes to be announced for the 2022 women’s and men’s WHOOP Wanamaker Miles, respectively. They will be a part of the two signature events of the Millrose Games. Last week the world’s top two shot put athletes and Tokyo Olympic gold and silver medalists Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs confirmed they will return to the Millrose Games for the Thorne Men’s Shot Put.
Millrose Games alumni earned 29 medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including 13 gold medals. With highest-level competition at the youth, high school, collegiate, club, and professional levels, there is truly something for everyone at the Millrose Games.
The 114th Millrose Games is anticipated to be the most thrilling edition of the meet to date, with dozens of Olympians competing on The Armory's “Fastest Track in the World.”
Tickets can be purchased by going to https://www.millrosegames.org/get-tickets
For more information on all Armory Track events go to www.armory.nyc.
Follow The Armory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @armorynyc.
About the Rudin Family
The Rudin Family has long supported running in New York City and is best known for the Samuel Rudin Trophy, presented since 1976 to the winning male and female runners in the TCS New York City Marathon. Samuel Rudin was an accomplished runner and member of the Class of 1918 at City College, not far from The Armory in Washington Heights where the Millrose Games takes place. His sons, Jack and Lewis, honored their late father by becoming the first sponsors of the five borough New York City Marathon. Now their sons, Eric and Bill, along with their children and grandchildren, carry on this tradition by sponsoring the Women’s 800m in memory of Jack and Lewis at the 114th Millrose Games. The Rudin Family’s real estate holdings are 16 commercial office buildings containing approximately 10.5 million square feet of space and 17 apartment buildings comprising over four million square feet of residences.
About The Armory Foundation
The Armory Foundation is a New York City non-profit institution, with the mission of "Keeping Kids on Track." Each season The Armory – the proud home of the Millrose Games – hosts more than 100 track & field meets and welcomes more than 220,000 visits. Among its many youth sports and educational programs, including the acclaimed Armory College Prep program, The Armory runs the leading collegiate indoor track meets with the Dr. Sander Invitational Columbia Challenge and the HBCU Showcase, and hosts the largest high school indoor track meets with the U. S. Air Force Hispanic Games, The New Balance Games, New Balance Nationals Indoor, the Energice Coaches Hall of Fame Invitational and Marine Corps Holiday Classic. New York Road Runners is a proud sponsor of all athletic events at The Armory. The Armory runs the Columbia & NewYork – Presbyterian Indoor Marathon Team Relay presented by New York Road Runners, which is the world’s largest indoor marathon relay. The Armory is also the home to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and dozens of very large education-focused events. For more: Please visit Armory.NYC and ArmoryTrack.com.
(Left) Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu en route to an American record in the women’s 800m this year at Prefontaine Classic, setting the current mark at 1:55.04; (Right) Ajee' Wilson following her American indoor record-setting performance in the Jack and Lewis Rudin Women’s 800m during the 113th Millrose Games. Photos by John Nepolitan
By Scott Linnell
Eagle-fast members of Shore Athletic Club seized glory for themselves and the club at two high visibility race on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
On Saturday, November 20, Roberta Groner notched another masters victory as she bested all 40-and-over ladies in the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Her scorching time of 1:14:05, a pace of 5:39 per mile, ranked her fourth among all women.
Pictured Above: Roberta Groner tears up the downtown boulevards of Philadelphia.
Shore AC was also superbly represented by Kristen Prendergast, who placed third among masters females in 1:21:43. Newcomer Christiana Rutkowski finished a mere 8 second behind Kristen, crossing in 1:21:50.
The following day, several Shore AC men honored one of the USA’s greatest presidents in the59th annual JFK 50 mile race in Maryland. Justin Scheid covered the half-century course in an amazing time of 5:46:21 to place fifth overall out of 933 runners. Rick Lee navigated the long, winding course in a tremendous 7:20:58, beating all other 60-and-over runners by well over an hour – EXCEPT for a local 61-year-old that finished 1 minute ahead of Rick. (Where did THAT guy come from???) Shortly thereafter, Tim McQueen completed the ultramarathon in a herculean 7:43:31. Well done to all three outstanding gentlemen!
Pictured Above: Justin Scheid all smiles with 5th place award.
Pictured Below: Rick Lee hits his stride along a stream-side trail.
Pictured Above: Tim McQueen is congratulated at the finish line by Reno Stirrat.