Some years, it’s been pretty easy. Some years, it’s been tough.
This year, the Toll Gate girls’ indoor track team thought it would be really tough. For 13 years in a row, they hadn’t lost a dual meet. But before the 2011-12 season even began, the Titans were circling last week’s meet against North Kingstown as a potential streak-ender. Their own lineup had suffered some major graduation losses and North Kingstown was looking strong. The match-up shaped up as a tough one.
And it was tough.
But the streak didn’t end.
The Titans edged North Kingstown by three points last Tuesday to stay perfect. They then finished off another unbeaten season with wins over Westerly and Smithfield on Monday.
The streak now stands at 14 years.
“It’s funny because we thought it was going to be really tough when the season started,” said head coach Norm Bouthillier. “Then North Kingstown wasn’t looking good in the first two meets, but all of a sudden they got their All-Stater back, and Rylee Candon couldn’t jump for us. So I was confident but also not.”
Thankfully for Bouthillier, there was nothing to worry about.
The Titans won six events and used their depth to get key points in other events on their way to the 56-53 win over the Skippers.
“Our girls did really well, and our veterans really stepped up,” Bouthillier said. “Every year, the seniors say they don’t want to be the ones to end the streak.”
Fittingly, two seniors helped light the way. Jordan Gray tied for first in the 55-meter dash and won the 300 to lead the charge on the track. Meanwhile, Katie St. Amand led a strong performance by the throwers with first-place finishes in the both the shot put and weight throw. The Titans also got first-place finishes in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
The first-place finishes gave the Titans a solid foundation, but they weren’t out of the woods yet. North Kingstown senior Aisha McAdams, one of the top distance runners in the state, returned from injury to win the 600, 1,000 and 3,000.
But because McAdams was coming off injury and setting a slow pace, Toll Gate managed to steal some points behind her. Shannon Garvey and Erika Pena went two-three in the 600, with Nora Hall finishing sixth. Haley Moen placed third in the 1,000, and Tess Russo and Jess Cawley took third and fourth in the 3,000.
“They did exactly what I would have done with McAdams – they told her not to kill herself and to run to win,” Bouthillier said. “That actually helped us because a couple of our girls got in there. We got some points out of that.”
The Titans also made up some ground thanks to a late adjustment. Bouthillier pulled Kathleen Morlock, his No. 2 hurdler, out of the hurdles and into the long jump, where she grabbed key points. Freshman Jordan Inkley replaced her in the hurdles and finished third, beating North Kingstown’s second finisher.
“Every point counted, so things like that were big,” Bouthillier said. “On the track, it was a dogfight.”
Garvey finished second in the hurdles, Morlock added a third in the 300, and Pena finished second in the 1,500 to round out the scoring on the track.
Pena added a second-place finish in the high jump, while Garvey took second in the long jump.
The Titans really made headway in the throws. St. Amand, Nicole Fraser, Meghan McNulty and Alyssa Jordan took the top four spots in the shot put. In the weight throw, St. Amand and Jordan went one-two, with McNulty finishing fourth.
“The throwers came up big,” Bouthillier said. “North is kind of weak in the throws, and we really exploited that.”
With North Kingstown taken care of, the Titans turned their attention to Monday’s season finale against Smithfield and Westerly. Thanks to similar performances on the track and in the throws, the Titans beat Smithfield 67-42 and Westerly 76-33. Gray won the 55 and the 300 again, Moen took first in the 600 and St. Amand grabbed first in the shot put.
Just like that, the Titans were on their way to perfection.
“It’s always fun to keep it going,” Bouthillier said. “Next year is going to be tough, but we said that last year, too.”
For now, the Titans will turn their attention to the postseason. They were recently voted as the state’s fourth-best team in the coaches poll, and they’ll be shooting for more success.
“We’re getting better,” Bouthillier said. “We’d like to win freshman states and then we’re hoping to win the class meet. Then we’ll shoot to see if we can be top three at states.”