WEST GREENWICH—Dark clouds and cold temperatures swept across the back fields at Exeter-West Greenwich High School Monday afternoon, making the sunny skies and 60-degree weather seem like a distant memory.
“Here comes the rain,” remarked EWG senior Jess Patalano as she warmed up to throw the javelin.
Passing, intermittent squalls made for a challenging – albeit typical New England – spring high school track meet as the South Kingstown girls downed both Westerly and EWG 77.5-47.5 and 114.5-36.5, respectively, Monday.
On the boys side the Rebels were equally successful, besting the Bulldogs 90-44 and the Knights 93-40.
“I’m optimistic but there are so many new kids and new athletes on both teams I think they’re both going to do very well,” SK coach Pat Egan said of the outlook for the boys and girls teams. “To predict exactly what they’ll do I’m not too sure but I like the outlook.”
For SK – and every other team in the state for that matter – this is what the start of the spring sports season holds; cold, often unpredictable weather.
“I was so excited,” senior Briana O’Grady said. “We got out of school and it was warm and I had the windows down and I was like, ‘yes! Perfect day for the first meet of the season,’ and then it started pouring rain.
“Unfortunately we’ve got this New England weather that likes to be unpredictable and kind of the first few weeks of outdoor still felt a little bit like indoor.”
“I’m used to it by now,” senior Mahlik Handley said. “Throwing indoor I was outside everyday throwing in the cold, the rain and snow.”
It’s difficult to really learn much about a team in a meet held in such challenging weather but given the talent and depth South has on the girls side the Rebels should be in the mix for a Southern Division title this spring.
“The girls numbers are down but the quality is up,” Egan said. “There’s a real strong freshman class.”
Leading the way for SK will be seniors Kendall Feaster, Briana O’Grady and sophomore Britney Laraway.
Feaster – who will continue her running career at Georgia Tech next fall – should be a medal contender in just about any race she enters from the middle to long distance events.
O’Grady, meanwhile, is the lone holdover in the throwing circles in what was the unquestioned strength of last season’s team that featured Jennifer Phillips, Emily Boardman, Souki Ndiaye, Aysha Moreino and Tianna Cruz-Perry.
“I’m super excited for hammer and discus and a little bit of shot [put],” O’Grady said. “[Hammer] is definitely my primary focus but we only have me this year.
“Last year there were like nine of us so I could focus on hammer but now that there’s only me I kind of have to focus on the other ones so that way I can score [in other events].”
Laraway – the cross country team’s top finisher behind Feaster – is at the forefront of a talented group of underclassmen that also includes sophomores Katherine Forrester and Meghan Blessing and freshmen Naomi Fastovski, Olivia Gonsalves, Isabelle Pesante, Celia Tomlinson, Katherine Vitello and Madison West.
Juniors Kelly Reiss, Sydney Sweck and senior Marisa Albert have each been consistent point scorers in the past for the Rebels, while senior soccer players Emily McClarnon, Samantha and Rebecca LeDonne should also help.
As for the boys team it should also be in pretty good shape this spring even with the move up to Class A.
Handley has established himself as one of the best throwers in the state and is poised to end his career as the best hammer thrower in school history.
“I’m hoping to do pretty well this year,” Handley said. “My goal is to get maybe in the 230’s area [in the hammer] – I definitely want that school record – and to place well in the state.”
Seniors Jacob Manning and Scott Washburn were the heart and soul of the cross country team and give the Rebels consistent threats in the middle to long distance events.
Seniors Stephen Krajeski, Matt Sunderland, Brett Sweet and James Thulier, juniors Ryan Kimmerlein and Harry Zartarian, sophomores Paul Sayour and Matt Sheehy and freshmen Terrell Handley and Ray Reyes should also help out the Rebels this spring.
“I’m excited,” Handley said. “We’ve got a lot of good talent; a lot of good jumpers, a lot of good sprinters and I’m excited for this year.
“They’re here, they’re chomping at the bit and they’re ready for this challenge.”