Bishop Hendricken has been on the verge of reclaiming the outdoor track state title every year since it last won, in 2010.
This year, the Hawks scored more points and got closer than they did in each of the previous two years.
But it still wasn’t enough.
East Providence out-dueled Hendricken and North Kingstown for a championship that came down to the final race of the day. When the dust settled on the 4x400 relay, the Townies had 69 points, four better than the Hawks and Skippers and good enough for their first state title since 1996.
Hendricken was left on the outside looking in for a third straight year.
“Going into the meet, I had East Providence, Barrington, NK, us – four or five teams right there,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Doyle. “In retrospect, we ran as good a meet as we could have, probably with the exception of the 4x4. That happens. We were certainly capable of doing it, but it wasn’t our day.”
Classical stormed to the girls’ championship with 104 points, nearly 40 more than second-place La Salle. Pilgrim finished in a three-way tie for third, its best showing since 1996, when it also grabbed third. Melanie Brunelle, Becca O’Donnell and Destinee Barrette each won medals for Pilgrim, while Hunter Bastan took home a medal for Vets.
The Pilgrim boys won four medals, with Derek Daluz taking two and Steve Croft and Peter Golish taking one each. Tom Martella won a medal for Toll Gate.
The race for the boys’ title was up for grabs all day, with a number of teams in the mix. The Hawks brought home 13 medals, while East Providence did much of its damage thanks to three standout performers. Ryan Williams won the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, Joshua Rambert took first in the 110 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles, and Christopher Moura took second in the long jump and third in the triple jump. That trio accounted for 42 points by themselves. Coupled with two other individual medals and two strong relay showings, it was enough to put the Townies at the top of the heap.
The Hawks were within range all day and made their move in the 3,000, where Connor Doyle took second, Colin Tierney took third and Tyler Henseler finished fourth. Along with a point from Nick DeCiantis in the discus, that put the Hawks ahead of East Providence 63-61 heading into the 4x400 relay, the day’s final race. Hendricken was the second seed and East Providence was third. North Kingstown, the top seed for the 4x400, was also within striking distance for the team title at 55 points.
Romario Rousseau got Hendricken to the lead on the first leg of the relay, before North Kingstown jumped in front. The Hawks remained a few strides ahead of East Providence, though, for the next two legs.
“We had to be at least fourth and beat East Providence,” Jim Doyle said.
It didn’t happen. Cameron Ricci ran anchor for the Hawks, and East Providence’s Rambert caught up to him on the back stretch. They remained neck-and-neck over the final turn and into the last 50 meters, but Ricci started losing his balance. Rambert did too but stayed on his feet and finished second. Ricci fell just before the finish line and made a gutsy effort to crawl over the line, but he did it in fifth place.
That gave the Hawks just two points, while East Providence picked up eight to erase its deficit and clinch the title.
“We had a good 4x4 team, and that’s a critical event,” Doyle said. “It just didn’t happen. Cameron ran his heart out. Just some bad luck in the end.”
Though the end result wasn’t what they wanted, there were some bright spots for the Hawks. The biggest was the 4x100 relay team of Lee Moses, Power Kanga, Marco Delvecchio and John Cute. They won the crown with a season-best time of 42.61 seconds.
“The 4x1 was a big bright spot,” Doyle said. “They did a great job.”
Moses and Kanga also won two individual medals apiece. Moses finished second in the 100 and fifth in the 200, while Kanga took third in the 100 and fourth in the 200. The Hawks also took third in the 4x800 and got a second from Reggie Deresier in the triple jump, a fifth from Ben Murphy in the high jump and a sixth from DeCiantis in the discus. The three top-six finishers in the 3,000 accounted for Hendricken’s other medals.
“The sprinters were great all day long, the guys in the 3,000 did a phenomenal job and we had some surprises,” Doyle said. “We just didn’t have quite enough.”
Pilgrim’s senior sprinters – Daluz and Croft – had another good state meet after winning a title last year on the 4x100 relay team. Croft was the high finisher with a second in the 400 in 50.68, while Daluz medaled in both the 100 and the 200, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. Golish added a fifth-place finish in the discus.
Martella led Toll Gate with a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles, while the relay team of Henry Smithers, Patrick Rocchio, Ben Dinobile and Brock Massa finished fifth in the 4x800.
On the girls’ side, Pilgrim owed all its success to its top three contenders. O’Donnell – the indoor track long jump champion – added two more medals to her trophy case. She took second in the triple jump with a best of 35-08.50, just an inch away from first-place finisher Cassie Roberge of Mount St. Charles. O’Donnell also took third in the long jump behind Prout’s Karly Gregory and Roberge.
Brunelle also took home two medals. She finished just behind O’Donnell in the triple jump, and added a third-place in the high jump.
Barrette was among the busiest competitors at the meet, taking part in the shot put, hammer, discus and javelin. She won medals in two of the events, grabbing third in the hammer with a throw of 156-11 and fifth in the shot put with a best of 35-07.25.
Bastan, a senior at Vets, grabbed her first state meet medal with a sixth-place finish in the triple jump. Toll Gate did not score, though standout sophomore Erika Pena was just outside the medals in both the triple jump, where she took eighth, and the 100 hurdles, where she finished seventh.