Tyler Cardillo’s 4X800 meter relay team broke the national high school record Friday at the New Balance National High School Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. Cardillo, a summer resident of Shelter Island from Punta Gorda, Florida, ran a sizzling 1:50.1 anchor leg for his high school team, the Charlotte Tarpons. Charlotte bested the previous 7:30.67 record with a 7:30.31, but that was not enough to hold off the nationally number-one ranked Long Beach Poly’s 7:28.75.
In one of the most exciting races of the Championships, the heavily favored California team had as much as a 60-meter lead halfway through the second leg. The predicted rout by the number-one team in the nation was unfolding as predicted. But the number-six ranked Tarpons would have none of it.
Charlotte’s Anthony Borrego handed off to Bryan Hilgar after a 1:55.6 leg, Hilgar ran a quick 1:53.2 to close the gap to 40 yards. Junior Ryan Schnulle made up the deficit with a 1:51.4 and gave Cardillo a two-step lead to start the anchor leg.
Cardillo ran a very fast 51.6 first 400 meters with Poly’s Myles Andrews on his shoulder. Andrews made a move for the lead at 500 meters but Cardillo reached down and opened a two-stride lead down the backstretch, passing 600 meters in 1:18. Andrews closed to Cardillo’s shoulder and, with 60 meters to go. Tyler’s legs began to give out from the torrid pace.
Andrews capitalized on the lactic acid build-up in Cardillo’s legs. He inched past the Charlotte senior to the finish, clocking a 1:47.7, the fastest 800 run by a scholastic runner in 2011. Cardilloʼs 1:50.1 was his fastest 800 ever.
Cardillo said after the race, “This is unbelievable. We came here hoping to break the all-time Florida record of 7:37 and to make the top six teams to get All-American honors. We only fantasized about a national record performance. It feels like a dream.”
The race closes out a true fantasy high school career for Cardillo, whose father, Gary, has been coming to Shelter Island every year since he was a child. In Tyler’s senior year alone, he led the team to second place in the States and got third individually; made high school All-American, with a third place in the mile at the Indoor Nationals with a 4:13.4; won the outdoor Florida State 1600-meter title with a 4:11.2; anchored a state record 4X800 meter relay team; led his team to its second consecutive overall 3A state team title; and got his second All-American award with the national record-breaking 4X800 meter relay team.
Cardillo will begin classes next week at the University of Florida, where he will study medicine and run track — and it all started here on Shelter Island in the summer of 2008 at Fiske Field, when Cardillo started training with his father’s friend.
Cliff Clark of Shelter Island is the father’s friend who has coached Cardillo throughout his high school career. — Ed.