Another state mark (and U.S. No. 1) for Berkson

(Hope junior Quashira McIntosh finished second in the 55-meter dash in a season-best 7.18 seconds)

The Armory Track & Field Center has been very kind to Maddy Berkson.

Saturday was no different.

For the second straight year at the New York venue, the Classical High senior captured the Invitational 3,000-meter run at the Hispanic Games. And for the second consecutive time, she did it in record fashion.

Utilizing a patient approach, Berkson hung back in the early stages of the race and took her first and final lead with about a 1,000-meters left, cruising to a new R.I. mark and U.S. No. 1 clocking of 9 minutes, 49.35 seconds. Denise Branch of Benjamin Cardozo (N.Y.) was second with a personal-best time of 9:57.87.

Berkson broke her own state record of 9:53.34, set last year when she finished third at the Yale Track Classic.

“It feels really good,” said the Classical standout on Saturday night, just a few hours after her record run. “It’s nice to be running that kind of time early on.”

In the race, Berkson didn’t let the fast, early pace by the leaders affect her mindset. Her primary goal was to keep them within striking distance while sticking to her plan of consistent 200-splits in the 38-second range.

“Pretty much the whole field went out fast with 33-second laps the first few laps,” Berkson said. “I hung back for the first few laps, running 37-second laps. My goal was between 38 and 39 (seconds).”

The Stanford-bound runner’s consistency on the banked oval was evident by her 1,000-meter splits, which she hit in 3:16, 3:18 and 3:15. She passed the 1,500 mark around 4:50.

“When I was in the back of the pack I felt pretty comfortable,” she said. “I was able to concentrate and I wasn’t worried. I just felt comfortable throughout the race.”

Berkson’s victory in the 3K continues her success at The Armory. She won last year’s Hispanic Games with a then-state record of 9:53.75. At the New Balance National Indoor Championships a few months later at the same venue, she finished third in the 800 with a R.I. record of 2:06.67. She also put her name in the books at the meet with a 56.3 in her preliminary heat of the 400.

“I do really like the track,” she said. “I have done well there in the past. I am pretty comfortable there and there is always great competition.”

Rhode Island also attained gold in the Varsity High Jump with Middletown’s Jacob Reilly clearing a PB of 6 feet, 5 inches. Alex McCord of Warwick (PA) was second at 6-4.

Hope junior Quashira McIntosh was just a few strides away from earning R.I. another win at the top regional meet. McIntosh finished second in the 55 dash with a season-best of 7.18, just .07 from her R.I. mark of 7.11 at the 2013 state meet. Cheltenham (PA) freshman Chanel Brissett won the race in 7.14.

Hope also had a sixth-place finish in the freshmen/sophomore 4x200 relay. The quartet of Destiny Hughes-Barnes, Mbvitidem Ebong, Isis Hack and Chevell Burgess combined for a time of 1:57.08.