In the fall, Bishop Hendricken held off a strong contingent of La Salle runners to win the state cross country title.
There was no holding them off Saturday.
The Rams piled up 66 points in distance events at the indoor track state championship and picked up key points in a few other spots to knock Hendricken from its throne and capture the school’s first boys’ state track championship since 1971. The Rams finished with 81 points, Classical was second with 69 and the Hawks – who were looking for a second straight title – took third with 66 points.
If not for a disqualification that wiped out a first-place finish in the 4x200 relay, Hendricken would have been a close second. But catching the Rams was going to be a tall order, no matter what.
“I congratulate La Salle,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Doyle. “We knew they were going to be outstanding and they were. They’ve got a great crop of distance runners. They’ve got five guys who are just awesome.”
La Salle also took the girls’ state championship, giving both titles to the same school for the first time in Rhode Island indoor track history. Among Warwick schools, the Pilgrim girls finished 11th with five medals and Toll Gate took 12th with four.
Hendricken finished with 13 medals, led by junior Lee Moses, who won his second consecutive long jump title. He added a third-place finish in the 55-meter dash and a fourth in the 300.
Colin Tierney won three distance medals, taking second in the 3,000, fourth in the 1,500 and sixth in the 1,000, while Ben Murphy took second in the high jump and Alex Cerbo finished second in the shot put.
But the Hawks knew going into Saturday’s meet that they would face an uphill battle, and it got steeper just two races in. Hendricken’s squad of Nick Stravato, Lee Moses, Kwity Paye and Power Kanga won the 4x200 relay in 1:33.64, but was disqualified when officials ruled that Moses had drifted into another lane after handing off his baton and obstructed a North Kingstown runner.
“That stung us a lot,” Doyle said. “It’s a shame because they ran well enough to deserve the win. But that’s the way track meets are. A few bad breaks can make a big difference, and we had some.”
And La Salle was ready to take full advantage.
The Rams got their distance parade off to a roaring start with a first-place finish in the 4x800 relay, the first event of the day. Hendricken took third.
In the 3,000, La Salle sophomore Matt Bouthillette out-dueled Tierney for first place, finishing in 8:43.50. Tierney was second in 8:47.09. La Salle’s D.J. Principe took third, while Hendricken’s Michael Potter finished fifth, giving the Rams 16 points in the event and Hendricken 10.
And that was as well as the Hawks would do against the La Salle distance team. The Rams racked up 20 points in the 1,500 and 20 more in the 1,000. Hendricken managed just five points in those events.
Jack Salisbury won both the 1,000 and the 1,500 for the Rams, with James Placco taking third in the 1,000, Dan Paiva taking second in the 1,5000 and fourth in the 1,000 and Chris Notorianni finishing fifth in the 1,500.
Tierney ran all three distance events for the Hawks – a difficult triple – but he could only do so much.
“Colin gave his best,” Doyle said. “He came back in the 1,500 and grabbed us a fourth, came back in the 1,000 and got sixth. That’s an unheard-of triple. Bouthillette ran a great race in the 3,000 and Salisbury was terrific for them.”
The Rams added big points in the high jump, where Sean Greene edged Murphy for the title. They both topped out at six feet, four inches, but Greene got the crown by virtue of fewer misses.
Broderick Santilli added a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter dash, and the Rams grabbed a point with a sixth-place in the 4x400 relay.
La Salle’s 81 points were the highest state meet total since Hendricken hit 98 in 2010.
While the Hawks met disappointment in the team standings, there were still performances to celebrate.
Moses took the high jump title for the second year in a row, with a best of 22 feet, 7.75 inches. That was more than five inches better than his title-winning jump last year.
“Lee Moses is always a bright spot,” Doyle said.
Moses spent part of the winter dealing with a hamstring injury, but he was at full strength Saturday. In addition to his long jump crown, he missed out on winning the 55-meter dash by just .08 seconds.
“I was confident,” Moses said. “I’ve been practicing on the track and it felt good. I felt good about it.”
Cerbo, the top seed in the shot put, threw 53 feet, 4.5 inches, just a few inches off his season-best. But Woonsocket senior Connor Fugere out-did his seeding mark by almost two feet to capture the crown with a toss of 54-03.75.
Also medalling for the Hawks were Power Kanga, who took sixth in the 55, and Jared Boulanger, who took fifth in the 600. Kanga, Ian MacLeod, Chris Cambio and Andrew Grady took third in the 4x400, with Boulanger, Avery Ingegneri, Matt Constant and Grant Gauthier finishing third in the 4x800.
Classical’s second-place finish was powered by seven place-winning finishes and three first-place medals. Ilan Rich won the 55, Abdul-Lateef Orulebaja took the 55-meter hurdles and the 4x200 relay took first.
Warwick public schools had a handful of competitors on the boys’ side. Vets senior Jeremy Morrissette was the top finisher with a 10th in the 300. Teammate Frank Merlino finished 14th in the shot put. Toll Gate’s Brock Massa took 13th in the 600, and Pilgrim’s Dan Johnston finished 18th in the shot put.
Pats, Titans just outside top ten
Pilgrim won the Medium Schools class championship earlier this month and was hoping to build the momentum into another strong showing at states, after the team finished sixth last year.
The Pats still took five medals but ended up a little further off the pace in the team standings with an 11th-place finish.
Senior Rebecca O’Donnell, the defending state champion in the long jump, couldn’t replicate last season’s winning jump of 17 feet, 10.5 inches and finished fourth with a best of 17-02.5. Cumberland sophomore Meaghan Scullin, the sixth seed, jumped almost seven inches past her season-best to win the title with a jump of 17-06.75.
Melanie Brunelle also stood out in the jumps for the Pats, taking sixth in both the long jump and the high jump.
Danika Wayss added a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 and the 4x200 relay of O’Donnell, Madison Stanley, Molly Lynch and Nicole Morales took fifth. Maddison Caron did not medal but was close in two events, taking eighth in the weight throw and ninth in the shot put.
Toll Gate was led by junior Erika Pena, who took fourth in the 55-meter hurdles and fifth in the long jump. She stood in third after the preliminaries in the hurdles before the fourth-place finish in the finals in 8.86 seconds. North Kingstown’s Maria Bolibruch won her third consecutive state championship in 8.42 seconds.
Ashley Chin was a major bright spot for the Titans. The sophomore was seeded 14th in the 55-meter hurdles, but found her way into the finals with a preliminary run of 7.57 seconds, .15 seconds better than her season-best. In the finals, she ran 7.59 to grab a sixth-place medal. Hope’s Quashira McIntosh took first in 7.19 seconds.
The Titans also got a sixth-place medal from Pena, Heather Allstrom, Jess Cawley and Nora Hall in the 4x400 relay. Freshman thrower Ani Armenakyan finished just outside the medals in seventh place in the shot put.