GEARING UP: Toll Gate's Kate St. Amand, who took third at the class meet, will be looking to place at Saturday's state meet.
For the second year in a row, the Bishop Hendricken indoor track team considers itself an underdog heading into the state meet. Last year, the Hawks won anyway, delivering big performances across the board to fend off La Salle and win their 17th consecutive championship.
Winning 18 is shaping up to be an even tougher task. Chariho has four of the top distance runners in the state, and that crew may have enough by itself to get past the Hawks.
“I honestly feel like we may not have enough to catch them,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Doyle. “Chariho has four super athletes and they’re going to be very tough to beat.”
The Hawks will certainly try, but they know what they’ll be up against when they head to the Providence Career & Technical Academy for Saturday’s 12 p.m. meet.
Chariho knocked off the Hawks at last year’s outdoor track state meet, and finished a close second to Hendricken at this season’s cross country state meet. Senior Mike Marsella was the state and New England cross country champ in the fall, and teammates Bryce Kelly, Dan Kilcoyne and Jake Kilcoyne aren’t far off his pace. Those three also placed in the top six at cross country states.
The Hawks had enough depth to get past Chariho on that day, and they had no trouble winning the class championship last weekend. Chariho was fifth.
But the state indoor meet is a completely different animal.
“People look at the class and the division meets and they assume we’re just going to do the same thing at states,” Doyle said. “But the points are a lot more spread out at states, and you need the big scorers. We don’t have a lot of those and Chariho does.”
The way Doyle sees it, Chariho could get upwards of 40 points just from its distance corps. As a team, the Chargers could rack up about 60 points.
“We could get to 60, but it’s going to be tough,” Doyle said. “It just looks a lot easier for them to get to 60. It’s a tough task. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s probably the toughest it’s ever been for us.”
The Hawks don’t plan on going down without a fight.
Their sprints are strong, with Billy L’Europa and Alex Perreault leading the way, and Ryan Brannigan is a strong and experienced anchor on the 4x200 and 4x400 relay, which both won class championships. Jordan Barboza is a contender in the high jump, while Kyle O’Connell is expected to score in the hurdles.
In the throws, Reuben Horace ranks second in the weight throw and could contend for the title, while Nick DeCiantis and Mike Pecchia are hoping to score in the shot put.
The Hawks typically get a lot of points from their distance runners, and though they’re expecting strong performances again this year, Chariho’s power could mitigate any success. Still, the Hawks will be hoping for big things from Mark Vuono, Michael Potter, Connor Doyle, Tyler Henseler and Collin Manning.
Whatever happens, the Hawks will be pushing to come up with their best day of the year. Knowing they’ll need it could be pretty good motivation.
“We’ve been underdogs before,” Doyle said. “Like last year, we need some great performances. Some of our guys have to step up and do better than they’re expected to do.”
Toll Gate leads girls’ teams
On the girls’ side, Toll Gate will once again carry the torch for Warwick schools. And though the Titans put a pretty good finishing touch on their season with their first class championship in 11 years, they’ll be looking for more good performances on Saturday.
“La Salle is pretty tough, and I don’t think anybody’s going to beat them,” said head coach Norm Bouthillier. “I think we could get fourth or fifth and maybe sneak up there. It just depends on how the day goes.”
The Titans finished fifth at states last year and have placed in the top five in each of the last four years. That’s a goal again, but overall, the Titans are just focused on individual success.
Jordan Gray, who placed second in the 300 last year, is expected to contend for the title again, while Katie St. Amand, a fourth-place finisher in the shot put last year, is looking for another top finish. Other top performers for the Titans include Rylee Candon, Haley Moen, Shannon Garvey and Erika Pena.
“We want them all to do well individually,” Bouthillier said. “If they do that and have a good meet, we’ll be very happy.”