MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – After an illustrious career in which he broke countless state, county, Section 1 and school records, Rai Benjamin has joined some of Mount Vernon High School’s most prominent alumni as the latest member of the district’s Student Hall of Fame.
Benjamin’s photo will soon hang outside the high school’s main office alongside NBA player Ben Gordon, E.B. White, the co-author of “The Elements of Style,” MLB pitcher Ralph Branca and other notable Mount Vernon alumni who left an indelible impression on the district.
Now that he’s graduated, Benjamin, one of the top track recruits in the country, will take his talents to UCLA in the fall, where he will continue his distinguished career after recently being named as the Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, a prestigious award that is given out to the nation’s top student-athletes.
Benjamin, who was hotly sought after before announcing his intention to run for the Bruins, rose from near anonymity to Division-I recruit after joining the track team as a freshman looking to become more explosive on the football team. From there, he led the team to the 2014 Outdoor New Balance National competition, and has broken several school, state and county records since.
This spring, he broke a 38-year-old state record in the 400-meter hurdle event, with a time of 50.45 seconds, which he subsequently topped at the National Track and Field Championships with the seventh fastest high school time ever clocked at 49.97 seconds.
Benjamin also holds state records in the 200 and 300-meter indoor dashes. While becoming one of the top track recruits in the nation, Benjamin has maintained a B average to remain in good academic standing while many students in Mount Vernon struggle.
Since dedicating himself solely to track and field and his Olympic aspirations, Benjamin has claimed championships in hurdles and became an all-American in the 400-meter sprint. With him as the anchor of the 800-meter relay team, the Knights set a Section 1 and Westchester County record with a 1:30.05 finish.
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