Best track talent headed to Garden

| |

The nation’s best female track talent is headed to Madison Square Garden for the 36th annual Colgate Women’s Games Finals on Saturday, January 30, and Queens will be well represented.

Starting with more than 11,000 participants four weeks ago, the Games saw 450 girls and young women from elementary school through college and beyond compete in last week’s semifinal at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

In a stunning upset, Joanne Imbert of Valley Stream Central High School cleared 5’8” to steal the high jump competition from Queens resident and Catherine McAuley High School senior Phyllis Francis, who cleared 5’6”. Despite the loss, Francis will compete in the high jump finals at the Garden.

Phyllis’ sister Claudia, of Benjamin Cardozo High School, took the Games’ 800-meter distance run in a time of 2:14.13, and will now compete in the event at the finals.

The Games have produced 22 former Olympians and hundreds of national champions, but the greatest benefit might be the positive effect on the women who compete in them.

Kim Francis, mother of the Francis sisters, said that the Games give women of all ages the opportunity to compete in a friendly environment.

“The Games are a great boost to their confidence,” she said. “A lot of sports are male oriented, so these Games give them the chance to compete and have fun at the same time.”

In other sprint news, Chamique Francis of Queens won the 55-meters in 7.18 seconds, while her fellow Cardozo classmate Lateisha Philson took the 55-meter hurdles with a performance of 8.23.

Some 240 girls and young women will compete in the finals at the Garden. Except for a small convenience charge, tickets to the finals on January 30 can be acquired for free on