Winter history could still be yet to come
Winter Storm Nemo might have staked its claim as one of winter’s defining moments when it dumped snow all over the state and ruined all our Friday nights last weekend, but there wasn’t a whole lot of staying power.
Nemo didn’t take over winter; it just took over a few days. By now the snow is starting to melt, schedules are back on track and the biggest reason we’ll remember the storm in a few weeks is because it was named after a cartoon fish.
Yes, Nemo caused us a tough few days, but snow in the winter is like sun in the summer or La Salle losing big football games. It’s just the way it is around here.
If you’re really looking for a rarity this winter, abandon the Weather Channel and take a look at the winter sports over at Bishop Hendricken. There’s a chance that it will be the best sports season for any school in state history.
The Hawks compete in five sports during the winter – hockey, basketball, swimming, wrestling and indoor track. They’ve got a realistic chance at winning the state championship in all five.
As far as I can tell, that’s never been done before, in any season, ever.
Trying to research something like this is difficult, but there are records kept for most of the stuff. I pored over web sites, crosschecked a few records and can say with 99-percent certainty that it’s never been done. Could someone have won every sport in the spring season in 1933? Yes, but it’s unlikely.
Hendricken has been close a few times, but they’ve missed out by one championship every time. In 2006 and 2007, the Hawks won hockey, basketball swimming and indoor track, but didn’t win wrestling. In 2004, they won basketball, wrestling, swimming, indoor track but not hockey.
Going five-for-five has always been unattainable, particularly because of hockey. With Mount St. Charles winning every state championship from 1977-78 to 2002-03, Hendricken had no real chance of winning all five.
In wrestling, Coventry won every title from 1981-82 to 1997-98, and then the state was taken over by a combination of the two Cranston schools, Warwick Vets and Cumberland. There was no place for Hendricken in that scenario either, except for once in 2004.
This year, hockey and wrestling are both out there for the taking. The Hawks are the favorites in wrestling, boasting a 13-0 dual meet record in Division I-North as of Wednesday afternoon. They take on fellow unbeaten Cumberland today, but even with a loss, Hendricken would still be the favorite heading in to the state meet. They’re built to win a tournament (and dual meets, clearly, but you get the point), and most likely will win the big one.
In hockey, Mount is no longer invincible. Toll Gate broke through that force field in 2003-04, and the Hawks have taken advantage with three titles of their own since then. They’re the defending state champions, boasting a win over Mount in last year’s state title series, and they’re currently in first place in the state’s top division right now.
They’re not a shoo-in to win the title – the Mounties are one point behind them in the standings and have beaten them twice in three meetings this year – but they’re definitely co-favorites. The Hawks could very easily raise the trophy again.
In swimming, Hendricken has won 23 straight state championships and is the heavy favorite again going into this weekend’s state meet. Indoor track is similar, as the Hawks won 17 consecutive titles before Chariho snapped that streak last year. Still, Hendricken is the favorite once again this year.
That leaves only basketball, and it’s the biggest question mark of the four. Gone are the glory days of 2004-10 when the Hawks were the unquestioned best team in the state, winning seven straight titles. Now they’re somewhere back with the rest of the pack, fighting to get to the top.
It’s not impossible or even unlikely for Hendricken to win this year – it’s just difficult. The Hawks finished the regular season at 9-9 thanks to a big win over South Kingstown on Tuesday and they’ll open play in the Division I tournament either Monday in the preliminary round or Wednesday in the quarterfinals. After that tournament, they’ll almost certainly qualify for the state tournament that is slated to begin later this month, with the top 16 teams in the state vying for the crown.
The team’s .500 record isn’t going to woo anybody into picking them as the favorites, but if a couple balls had bounced their way in a few games this season, that record could easily be 11-7 or 12-6. They’re not that far away.
North Kingstown is the favorite, with La Salle, Classical and Mt. Pleasant just behind, but the Hawks are in the mix.
You only have to look to last year, when a 9-9 Hope team made the finals, to know there’s a chance.
And if there’s a chance in basketball, there’s a chance that Hendricken could become the first school in Rhode Island to sweep a sports season.
That’s a whole lot more rare than a blizzard in New England.
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.