It may not have felt like spring on Monday, but the outdoor track season officially kicked off in Warwick with all three public schools seeing how they stacked up with their rivals.
All the way around, Pilgrim stacked up the best.
On the boys’ side, the Pats used standout performances from their throwing group to defeat Vets 63-52 and Toll Gate 76-52, and the girls’ team got typical dominant showings from its top athletes to turn away Toll Gate 86-60 and Vets 128-8.
It was the second straight city championship sweep for the Pats, who also won the meet a year ago.
The Vets boys’ team came away with a victory, defeating Toll Gate 67-47, while the Toll Gate girls’ team beat Vets 118-10.
“You get this competitiveness and you want the guys to go out there and run the best they can,” said Mike Daniels, head coach of the Pilgrim boys’ team, about competing against city rivals.
The Pats were pushed hard by the ’Canes, but in the end it was Pilgrim’s throwers who put it over the top.
The hammer was the team’s best event. Jake Yang came in first place with a throw of 161 feet, and he was followed by teammates Dan Johnston, Lukas Fontaine and Joe Borges. Vets’ Brian Schofield took fifth.
Yang wasn’t finished. He also took first in the javelin with a throw of 125 feet, six inches, and he took first in the discus with a throw of 121 feet, four inches. Johnston added a second-place in the shot put and the discus, while Dylan Cote was third in the shot put and David Saran was third in the javelin.
“We do rely on the throwers,” Daniels said. “The last two years the throwers have grown so much. That’s our core right there. Without that, I think we’d be a mediocre team at best.”
Vets also had a strong day in the throwing events, with Frank Merlino leading the way thanks to a first-place throw of 41 feet, seven inches in the shot put. Brian Schofield added a second in the javelin and a third in the discus.
Pilgrim picked up valuable points with five other first-place finishes. Brandon Lawton won the 1,500 in a time of 4:43, Davin Beriner took the triple jump with a distance of 28 feet, two inches, Dan Barclay won the 400 with a time of 1:11.9, Connor Devine won the 300 hurdles in 55 seconds and the team of Lawton, Edward Cascella, Griffin Potter and Andrew Picard won the 4x400 relay in a time of 4:15.06.
Those performances represented a strong start to the season for the Pats.
“Do I think our teams going to do well? I think they’ll do well,” Daniels said. “I think they’ll really develop into something this year.”
Vets kept the score close thanks to its sprints. Jonathan Nordin came in first place in both the 100 and the 200, and Denius Simpson took second place in the same events. Dante Crosby tied for second with Simpson in the 100.
In the 4x100 relay, Nordin, Simpson, Crosby and Levi Martin teamed to take first, while Pilgrim came in second. Simpson also took first in the long jump with a jump of 16 feet, four inches, and Martin captured the high jump crown with a jump of five feet, 10 inches. Chris Smith also scored some big points for the ’Canes, finishing third in the 800.
Toll Gate, although it didn’t come away with a victory, also had some impressive showings. Joe Brosnahan was a the top of that list, taking first place in the pole vault with a vault of 10 feet, six inches and taking second place in the long jump. He tied for third place in the 200, as well with teammate Max Procopio. Procopio finished second in the pole vault and third in the long jump.
Runner Alex Pires and Anthony Hart had big days too, with Hart taking first in the 800 and second in the 1,500 and Pires winning the 3,000 and finishing third in the 1,500. Max Vosburgh finished second in the 3,000, Dan Mowry finished third in the same event and Nik Poulios was second in the 800.
On the girls’ side, it was Pilgrim’s traditional top performers who stole the show. Multi-year contributors and state meet regulars Rebecca O’Donnell, Melanie Brunelle, Danika Wayss, Madison Stanley and Maddison Caron led the way.
“There are a lot of good teams out there,” said Pilgrim girls’ head coach Tom Dolce. “We have to work hard and hope for the best.”
The product looked pretty good on Monday. Pilgrim claimed 11 first-place finishes, despite missing jumper Kayda Phillip and distance runners Nicole Morales and Molly Lynch.
Pilgrim also flashed some depth. In the triple jump, the Pats were the only team with any competitors, but they pushed themselves well. O’Donnell won the event with a jump of 34-feet, 10 inches, Brunelle took second and Stanley took third. All three of those jumpers will likely qualify for states, with Phillip, a state-meet qualifier last year, also likely to be there.
“We’re trying to prepare them for the states,” Dolce said. “We’ve been working on that event.”
Pilgrim also excelled in the other jumping events. O’Donnell grabbed her second first-place finish with a long jump of 15-feet, one-half inch, and Brunelle finished in second. Brunelle also took a first place of her own by winning the high jump with a jump of four feet, 11 inches.
The distance events also should be a strength, with Wayss and freshman Bryana Mullin leading the way. Wayss finished in first in the 1,500 and the 800, with Mullin in second in the 1,500. Mullin also took first in the 3,000, and Mary Kate Agnew finished third. Freshman Maranda Duffie was third in the 800.
Dolce saw the emergence of a new standout as well. Sophomore Emma Landroche flashed improvement from her freshman year by finishing in first place in the 100 and 200, and also running on Pilgrim’s first-place 4x100 relay team with O’Donnell, Stanley and Claudia DeMelo.
Pilgrim picked up additional points in those events, with O’Donnell finished fourth in the 100 and Stanley grabbing second in the 200.
“Last year she was my fifth best freshman,” Dolce said of Landroche. “She was an alternate on my relay team. She grew about three or four inches and she really came into her own this spring.”
Pilgrim’s other first-place showings were from Stanley in the 400 and Alexa Annotti in the 300 hurdles. In the throwing events, Caron finished second in the shot put, the discus and the hammer and Elicia Nemirow took second in the javelin. Other standout performances for the Pats came from Brunelle in the 100 hurdles, where she took second and DeMelo, who took third in the same event. The Pats’ 4x4 team of Duffie, Wayss, Emma Vincent and Erin Plowman took second.
“We’re just going to have to keep working hard and hope everything falls into place at the big meets,” Dolce said.
Toll Gate put together a decent opening meet, too. It had seven first-place finishes, led by its throwers.
Sophomore Courtney Jacobsen won both the hammer and the discus to set the tone. Freshman Ani Armenakyan took first in the shot put, with Hannah Dubiel in third and Alyssa Mathews in fourth. Mathews finished first in the javelin. Victoria Bucci was third in the hammer, Jillian Eaton was third in the discus and Arielle Frank was third in the javelin.
The Titans’ other first-place finishes were from Erica Pena, who claimed the 100 hurdles top prize, Haley Rouleau, who won the pole vault and the 4x400 relay team of Nora Hall, Jess Cawley AnneMarie Martella and Pena.
Hall also finished second in the 400 and fourth in the 200, Martella was second in the 100 and third in the 200, Cawley was second in the 800, Pena was second in the high jump and third in the 100, Sarah Marino was second in the 3,000, Rouleau was third in the long jump, Ashley Chin was third in the high jump and fourth in the long jump and Morgan Dugan was third in the 400. The 4x100 relay team came in second.
Vets was led on the day by Carlie McPherson, who finished in third place in the 1,500. It also had two fourth-place finishes, with Kim Buchanan grabbing that spot in the hammer and Kaitlyn Johnson doing the same in the 800.
All the Warwick teams will be back in action next week.