The Bishop Hendricken outdoor track team, ranked third in the state, had to have its best day of the season to win the state championship on Saturday at Brown University.
Early on in the meet, when the team’s most prolific scorer, junior Lee Moses, came up limping during the 100 meter dash prelims, the Hawks knew their already-unlikely title hopes were dashed.
When the dust settled, North Kingstown raised the trophy on the boys’ side for the second time in three years, edging out Classical 94 to 88. Hendricken took fourth with 67 points, also behind third-place La Salle’s 73.
But there was plenty to be excited about for the Hawks, who saw Moses win the long jump prior to his injury, Alex Cerbo win the shot put and Colin Tierney claim first place in the 3,000.
Warwick Vets, the only other Warwick school to score in the boys’ meet, finished tied for 10th place at 12 points with Rogers, Coventry and Lincoln. The ’Canes got a pair of third-place finishes from sophomores Levi Martin in the high jump and Austin Asoroona in the 100.
In the girls’ meet, Pilgrim came up short of last year’s third-place showing, finishing in 12th place with 16 points. Toll Gate took 15th with eight points, as Classical won its second consecutive state championship with 130 points. La Salle was second with 68 points.
Pilgrim standouts Rebecca O’Donnell and Melanie Brunelle had their usual big days, while the Titans were led by junior Erika Pena.
It was an eventful day for Warwick, albeit one that saw Hendricken come up shy of a title for the fourth consecutive season. The Hawks now haven’t won the outdoor championship since 2010.
“We knew that we had to have a perfect day,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Doyle. “As soon as (Moses’ injury) happened, we knew we were out of it.”
The Hawks started off strong, getting first-place finishes from Cerbo and Moses in the early going.
Cerbo, the top-ranked shot putter in the state coming in, easily claimed the title, throwing 54-feet, 5.25-inches. That was more than six feet further than the second-place finisher, Jon Jacobs of Westerly.
“He was outstanding,” Doyle said of Cerbo. “He’s been outstanding all year. He was second indoors and was disappointed. He was so determined to come back and win the state championship. You just knew. That kid threw over 50 feet in every single meet that he went to this year.”
Moses needed just two jumps to leap 22-feet, nine-inches, winning the title in convincing fashion over Hope’s Dave Balony. Balony was actually the top-ranked jumper heading in, but Moses defeated him by 8.5 inches.
“The first jump I faulted,” Moses said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s the first time I’ve faulted.’ But I talked to my coach, he told me what I needed to do. I relaxed. I pushed my mark back from 100 to 101 and I took the jump again.”
The 100-meter dash came soon after that, and Hendricken was expecting to score big points with the trio of Moses, Power Kanga and John Cute. Moses came in second at last year’s meet.
Instead, he felt a pop in his quad during the prelims and had to retire from the race. Cute ended up taking fifth place to get the Hawks two points – with Kanga just out of the points in seventh – but it was a significantly lower haul than Hendricken had planned.
“We knew we had to five wins, and not having five wins off the bat hurts,” Doyle said. “We were on our way, but losing Lee made it tough.”
The injury kept Moses out of the 200 as well, an event he placed third in last year. With Hendricken losing ground, North Kingstown and Classical surged to the top two spots during the middle of the day and made it a two-team race.
There were other bright spots for Hendricken, however, starting with Tierney.
The senior who had come in second in the 3,000 in the indoor track season after losing the lead down the final stretch found redemption when he set the pace for the first two laps, drifted behind teammate Michael Potter for the middle of the race and then turned it on toward the end for the win.
“I was sort of upset in indoors when sophomore Matt Bouthilette beat me in the last 150 meters or so,” Tierney said. “That was pretty devastating. But I was able to bounce back and get it today.”
Hendricken’s solid day didn’t stop there. Senior Ben Murphy finished second in the high jump with a jump of six feet, two inches, while sophomore Shane Olson took third in the javelin and freshman Justin Mazzulla finished fourth in the triple jump. Other point-getters were Chris Celona in sixth in the hammer throw, the 4x100 team in second, the 4x400 team in third and the 4x800 team in fifth. The 4x8 team actually had a personal record by more than 12 seconds.
“We were happy with what we did,” Doyle said. “It was a big surprise in the 4x8. Our guys hadn’t broken 8:20 all year. They ran 8:08.”
Other Hendricken notables were Cute in seventh in the 200 prelims, Jared Boulanger in seventh in the 800, Potter in seventh in the 3,000, Nick Celico, Dom Parlato, Grant Gauthier and Jack Rossi in eighth, ninth, 14th and 15th in the same event, Connor Hurst and Evan Nelson in 10th and 11th in the shot put, with Ben Nelson in 13th and Nick DelSesto in 15th.
Gage Powell took 13th in the 110 hurdle prelims, Jon Celico was 14th in the pole vault, Kwity Paye was 15th in the long jump, Connor Hurst was 16th in the discus, Mike Tarro was 11th in the hammer, with Eddie Barber in 17th and Cerbo in 18th, and Chris Duxbury was eighth in the javelin.
“Definitely not the day that we expected, but everybody came in and tried to contribute,” said Moses.
For Vets, Asoroona and Martin scored the points. Asoroona has been plagued by shin splints all season long and barely qualified for the finals in the 100, taking eighth place in the prelims to sneak into the last spot.
But once in the finals, Asoroona turned on the jets, out-running five competitors who qualified ahead of him to take third. Asoroona ran the race in 11.36 seconds, behind only Mt. Pleasant’s Randolph Zleh and Trevane Clarke.
“Doing this right now is really great for me,” Asoroona said. “I’m pretty proud of myself.”
Martin’s third place came in the high jump, where he was seeded sixth. His jump of six feet, two inches was tied for the second-best on the day, but he needed one more jump than Hendricken’s Murphy to accomplish it, giving him third place.
Other Vets’ competitors were Jon Nordin, who was 12th in the 200 prelims and Frank Merlino, who was 18th in the shot put.
Toll Gate’s Joe Brosnahan and Max Procopio competed in the pole vault, taking 10th and 11th respectively.
No Pilgrim boys competed.
Girls grab high finishes
Pilgrim’s O’Donnell had the best finish on the day for any Warwick girls’ competitor, taking second to Cranston West’s Annabelle Hauck – the top seed – in the long jump. O’Donnell jumped 17-feet, 1.5-inches, while Hauck out did her by 1.25 inches.
The senior also added a sixth place in the triple jump and a 14th in the 100 prelims, capping a career that saw her win eight state meet medals in indoor and outdoor track.
Junior Melanie Brunelle also turned in a solid day on Saturday, taking third place in the triple jump with a distance of 34-feet, 11.25-inches, and sixth in the high jump. Brunelle also finished 14th in the long jump.
For Toll Gate, Pena had the highest finish with a third place in the 100 hurdles.
Grabbing that spot was a relief for Pena, who took fourth and narrowly missed out on third during the indoor season.
“I’ve been praying all week and all season to get third-team All-State because it was taken away from me in indoor,” Pena said. “So I just went out and went for it. It went by so fast and I PR-ed. It made my day.”
Freshman Ani Armenakyan also grabbed a point for the Titans, finishing in sixth place in the shot put. Toll Gate’s 4x800 relay team – seeded ninth – ran its way to a sixth-place finish and a point to the team’s total.
Pilgrim had a number of competitors finish just outside the points. Sophomore Emma Landroche was seventh in the 100, and Nicole Morales was ninth in the 400. Danika Wayss was 10th in the 1,500, Madison Stanley was 11th in the triple jump and 12th in the 200, Morales was 11th in the 200, Wayss was 13th in the 800 and Maddison Caron was 12th in the shot put and 15th in the hammer. Pilgrim’s 4x400 relay team was eighth.
Toll Gate got a ninth from Courtney Jacobsen in the discus and a 10th in the hammer, Annemarie Martella was 12th in the 100 prelims, Arielle Frank was 12th in the javelin and Alyssa Mathews was 14th in the same event, Hannah Dubiel was 16th in the shot put and Jess Cawley was 16th in the 800. Haley Rouleau competed in the pole vault, while the 4x400 relay team came in ninth.
No Warwick Vets girls competed.