Bishop Hendricken saw its streak of 17 consecutive indoor track state championships come to an end last year when Chariho took the title. When the Hawks arrived at the Providence Career & Technical Academy for their season-opening meet on Monday night, they viewed it as the first step to getting back on top.
“Our goal is to recapture that state championship that we lost last year,” said assistant coach Dan Brennan. “That is the team goal from day one – to reclaim that state championship. Last year, it was too bad that we lost. We kind of felt like we let it get away. We really want to have a chance to get that back in our hands.”
The potential is certainly there. As always, the Hawks have a huge roster that’s stacked with both standouts and depth. With Chariho likely not as strong as it was last year – and the Hawks looking stronger – it could be the right recipe for Hendricken.
Optimism starts with the distance corps. While the Hawks had were coming off a cross country state title before last year’s indoor season, their top runners were still young and couldn’t keep up with Chariho’s ability in the distance events.
That should change this year, with a host of cross country mainstays poised for another big season. The group includes seniors Greg Beaudette, Connor Doyle, Alex Doherty and Tyler Henseler, juniors Colin Tierney and Collin Manning and sophomore Michael Potter.
“We’re coming off a strong cross country season, and we’ve got a group of guys we expect a lot out of,” Brennan said.
The Hawks will also mix in a strong group of sprinters, led by senior Alex Perreault, who finished third in the 300 at last year’s state meet.
“Alex is one of our senior captains and he’s one of the top returners in the state in the 300,” Brennan said.
Perreault will also run the lead leg on a 4x200 relay team that could emerge as one of the best in the state. Perreault is joined by junior Jack Cute, who’s new to the team after playing hockey the last two years. Sophomore standouts Power Kanga and Lee Moses round out that relay squad.
“They’re looking very good early on in the season,” Brennan said.
Moses will also help the Hawks in the long jump, while Kanga will run in the dash. Sophomore Ben Murphy should contend in the high jump. Beyond that, there’s a lot of depth, and more contenders could emerge in various events.
In the throws, a big group of seniors leads the way. Nick DeCiantis finished sixth in the shot put at the state meet last year and should be near the top again. Seniors Joe Vincent and Matt Casbarro lead the charge in the weight throw.
All in all, it adds up to another strong squad. The Hawks hope that this year, when February rolls around, it’s enough to get back on top.
“We have a lot of pieces, and I think when we put it together, we can field a real strong team,” Brennan said.
Titans pushing for success
For most teams around the state, teams that aren’t in the mix for regular-season success and state meet glory, the dual-meet season is about individual performances. The Toll Gate boys have been no different over the years, and they’ll still be focused on improvement this season.
But with a strong group of seniors leading the team, the Titans also want to focus on winning.
“We have a lot of seniors this year and they really want to win some meets,” said head coach Jon Deming. “Usually, we kind of just use them as qualifiers for the state meet. This year, they kind of wanted to see what they could do.”
The Titans went 2-4 in dual meets last year after going 4-4 the year before. With powerhouses Hendricken and East Greenwich still at the top of the division, the Titans still won’t be at the head of the class, but they’d like to get back to a solid record.
“I think they should do pretty well,” Deming said.
Senior Tom Martella is the team’s most versatile performer and should score plenty of points in dual meets. He also represents Toll Gate’s best chance for state meet success. Martella was a state meet qualifier in the hurdles last year and will be looking for a return trip.
“We’re looking to get Tom to score in the state meet in the 300 and the hurdles,” Deming said. “He looked really good in the Injury Fund.”
Seniors Curran McMahon and Junior Rivas are also versatile performers who are capable of contributing in several events.
The Titans also should have a solid distance corps. In the fall, the cross country team went 8-4, and its top runners will be looking to build on that. Junior Henry Smithers leads the charge for a group that also includes senior Ben Dinobile and juniors Pat Rocchio, Evan Carley and Brock Massa.
In the throwing events, the Titans don’t have any proven standouts, but they’re working to fill the events and make improvements as the year goes on.
“Throwing is a work in progress but they’re doing well,” Deming said. “We’ve got some seniors now who have been in the program for a while now. We’ve got it all together now so we’ll see what they do.”
That’ll be the approach all season, for everybody. Whatever happens, the Titans figure to be solid.
“We’re more of a junior and senior team,” Deming said. “We’ve got some pretty good state meet guys and then we have some pretty good depth. I think we’ll be okay.”
Pats building around strengths
Last winter was the beginning of a big few months for the Pilgrim track program.
The Pats had a solid indoor campaign and qualified six individuals and a relay team for states. In the spring, Pilgrim won the 4x100 championship at the outdoor state meet.
As another track season begins, the Pats don’t have quite as many top-level performers, and success may not be as easy to come by. But the Pats still have good overall numbers and they still believe in their strengths.
“We lost a lot of seniors so it’s a struggle trying to figure everything out and solidify everything,” said head coach Mike Daniels. “We have great numbers, but you need the standouts to help the team win. We’ll do okay. We may have some state guys. It comes down to sprints and throwing. Those two systems have to really score points.”
Two members of that championship 4x100 team – seniors Steve Croft and Derek Daluz – will lead the Pats on the track. Both will be looking to qualify for states in individual events, and they’ll also be trying to help Pats develop more strong relay teams.
“Those guys are the forefront of the sprint team this year,” Daniels said. “They do a great job.”
Daniels is also looking for senior Christian White and sophomore Brandon Paiva to do good things in the sprints and relays.
The throwing team is Pilgrim’s other strength. Senior Peter Golish is back after qualifying for states last year and he’s joined by a veteran group that includes seniors Kevin Conner, Dylan Gardner and Alex Malm, as well as juniors Dan Johnston and Andrew Swain.
“I rely on my sprint guys and I rely on my throwers,” Daniels said. “We have a great throwing team. [Assistant coach] Jay Hudden does a great job with them one-on-one. He’s really built those guys up and built up a team. I’m proud of those guys.”
The Pats have a few competitors trying out jumping events and their distance corps features cross country standouts Cameron Devine and Sam Eleuterio. Sophomores Aaron Edmonds and Sam Shoepfer are showing potential.
“We don’t have a huge distance team,” Daniels said. “The guys can run and they’ll score points when we need them.”
Together, the Pats should have enough to be solid. If they develop some contenders, it’ll be even better.
Overall, the goal is improvement.
“We don’t have the standouts yet, but we put a mish-mash together and hope they can at least improve,” Daniels said. “That’s what we focus on. When I sat them all down this year, I said, ‘Look, we’re not going to do what we did last year . We’re missing a lot of guys, we’re missing a lot of elements. But can we improve on our times and our throws and our jumps? Yes. So that’s really what it comes down to for us. I’m happy with the team itself and I’m excited. We work really hard. Hopefully, these guys can make something happen.”
’Canes taking steps forward
Numbers have risen incrementally but steadily for Warwick Vets the past few years, largely because of a host of juniors who have stuck with the program.
While those juniors may be a year away from turning Vets into a seriously competitive team, this season should be another step in the process.
“We’ve got 13 juniors and they’ve been here since freshman year,” said head coach Keith Randall. “They’re kind of building up. I’m hoping if I can get some more freshmen and sophomores, next year will probably be our best shot of having a good, full team. We’re definitely getting better.”
For now, the goal will be to continue that improvement across the board. The ’Canes have won just a single meet each of the last two years and would like to get a few more this season. Regardless of what happens on that front, it’s about having each individual take steps in the right direction.
“My number one goal is individuals, and seeing if they can get better throughout the season,” Randall said. “We want to take as many guys to the states as possible. If we can win a couple of meets along the way, that’s great, but I’m really more focusing on them progressing and getting better each week throughout the season.”
Vets has only three seniors, but all of them will contribute. Nathan Brotman is the team’s most consistent weight thrower, while Pat Delsanto throws the weight and can do the long jump and high jump. The other senior is Kyle Waters, a mainstay in the sprints and in relay events.
Leading the big junior class is distance runner Ian Anderson, who’s coming off a strong cross country season. He’ll be looking to build on it.
“Ian came in third in the class championships in cross country, so we’re really looking at him for a big season,” Randall said. “He’s doing the 3,000 right now and we’re hoping he’ll even be stronger in the 1,000.”
Other top performers include junior Brian Schofield in the weight throw, juniors Kyle and Jeremy Morrissette in sprints and relay events and Jon Nordin in sprints.
Randall is also eager to see how his 4x200 relay team stacks up. That unit has looked good so far.
“Happy with the 4x200 relay team today,” Randall said at Monday’s season opener. “And we’re trying to put together a 4x400 team so we’ll see what we can do there.”
In every event, improvement will continue to be the refrain. The ’Canes are also hoping to increase their numbers as the year goes on, and in general, keep things moving in the right direction.
“I’ve got at least two more guys coming in and hopefully a few more will join in,” Randall said. “We’re getting three and four in most of the events. Hopefully, we’ll build and get a few more guys to come out.”