The Toll Gate girls’ indoor track team knows that five-time defending state champion La Salle is favored to make it six at this weekend’s state meet.
That’s why the Titans were so happy to bring home their own championship on Thursday night.
A week after winning their fifth consecutive division title, the Titans won the Medium Schools class championship by edging Hope and South Kingstown. It’s the first class championship for the Toll Gate girls since the 2000-01 season, which made it all the more sweeter.
“The kids were very excited,” said Toll Gate coach Norm Bouthillier. “It means a lot. We know we’re not going to win states, so winning class was a big goal for us. Winning the class championship is huge.”
The Titans thought they’d have a good shot at the championship heading into Thursday’s meet, but as the night unfolded, it wasn’t shaping up so well. Three key runners were battling illness and the hurdles – an important event for Toll Gate – came and went with the Titans getting no points.
“As the meet went on, there were just a lot of things stacking up against us,” Bouthillier said. “But the saying goes, good teams find a way to win.”
That’s what the Titans did.
With 18 place-winning performances, they totaled 88 points. South Kingstown and Hope tied for second with 82.
The meet came down to the final race, the 4x400 relay. At that point, Toll Gate’s coaches thought the team might be out of championship running, but Bouthillier heard from another coach that whoever did better in the 4x400 between Toll Gate and South Kingstown would win the meet.
The Titans delivered.
Haley Moen, Jordan Gray, Erika Pena and Kathleen Morlock – who subbed in for a sick Nora Hall – finished second to Mt. Hope, while South Kingstown’s team took fifth. That made the difference as the Titans celebrated the championship.
“We found out going into the race that it was us or South Kingstown,” Bouthillier said. “We didn’t have our best time and Mt. Hope did really well, but second was good enough.”
The Titans took second and third in the other relays and also had 15 individual place-winning performances. Senior Rylee Candon and freshman Erika Pena led the way with two medals each. Candon won the high jump – Toll Gate’s only first-place finish – and also took second in the long jump.
“She did exactly what she was supposed to do,” Bouthillier said.
Pena also had a big day, taking second in the high jump and fourth in the 1,500.
“She did really well,” Bouthillier said.
Moen added a second-place in the 600, Jordan Gray took third in the 400, Shannon Garvey and Hall went fourth and fifth in the 600, Tess Russo and Jess Cawley finished fourth and sixth in the 1,000, Stine Hildeness took sixth in the 1,500 and Morlock finished sixth in the long jump. Morlock also had a huge performance in the hurdle prelims, ranking first at that point, but she settled for eighth in the finals.
In the throws, Katie St. Amand finished third in the shot put and sixth in the weight throw, while Nicole Fraser finished fifth in the shot put.
“It was a great team win,” Bouthillier said. “Everybody came through, and we scored in almost every event. We’re extremely happy.”
Other competitors for Toll Gate included Casey Soares, Danielle Petrangelo, Elena Chace, Logan Gabrielsen, Schuyler Teneyck, Katherine Lavallee, Madison Frechette-Thibeault, Abby Tillotson, Meg McNulty, Alyssa Jordan, Meghan Rocheleau and Haley Rouleau.
Warwick Vets had two competitors in the Medium Schools championship. Elizabeth Paras finished sixth in the 3,000 for the team’s only points, while Megan Merlino finished eighth in the shot put and 10th in the weight throw.
Pats solid in Large Schools championship
Pilgrim competed for the Large Schools championships and finished sixth overall with 29.5 points. La Salle was first with 138, but the Pats were only 8.5 points out of third place.
The Pats were led by Maggie Dufault, who finished first in the weight throw with a best throw of 49 feet. Dufault added a third-place finish in the shot put.
Destinee Barrette was also a standout in the throws, taking second in the shot put and fifth in the weight throw. Maddison Caron added a sixth-place finish in the weight throw.
Pilgrim’s other place-winners were Natalie Tocco, who took sixth in the 3,000, and Melanie Brunelle, who tied for fifth in the high jump.
Also for Pilgrim, Becca O’Donnell took seventh in the 55-meter dash and 10th in the long jump, Emma Mascoli finished seventh in the hurdles, Caitlin Blanchard and Michelle Sanchez finished 10th and 11th in the shot put, and Cassidy Dickeson took 18th in the long jump.