PROVIDENCE – In the unconventional RIIL indoor track and field schedule – with its co-meets, dual meets, individual rankings and final statewide jamboree for the eighteen best athletes per each event regardless of team rank – the Class Championships may be the sport’s most interesting single day of organized chaos. On Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to around 7:30 p.m., all the state’s boys and girls indoor track and field teams shuffled through the Providence Career & Technical Academy, a swath of uniforms, numbered Tyvek racing bibs and some record-breaking numbers and times.
Buses were lined all along Cranston Street. Athletes in team colors jogged outside in the frigid wind, and inside, 4x4 teams trained in unison and sprinters practiced in the hallways. The strict divisions and 2015-16 dual meet records are discarded, and all the teams get reshuffled based on how many boys and girls were enrolled in each district to begin the school year.
Juggernaut division champs may have to scrap it out with schools they’ve never seen before. Small schools stuck behind loaded divisional powerhouses, may find more reasonable competition. Some coaches bring a few specialists looking for individual paths to the state championships.
As egalitarian as a system based on raw population data appears, there’s been a monopoly in boys Class A; Bishop Hendricken has won 34 Class A titles in a row, dating from the 1980-81 season to 2015-16. The Hawks have totaled 61 division championships and 26 State Championships as well. During the dual meet season, West Warwick competes against Hendricken in the Suburban Division. In 2014-15 and 2013-14, West Warwick lost out on the dual meet season title with a 7-1 record to 8-0 Hendricken, then lost in the Suburban meet 222-92. This season was almost exactly the same, as the 7-1 Wizards lost to 8-0 Hendricken at the Division meet, 213-109.
When it comes to the Class Championship, the Wizards compete against other smaller sized schools in Class B, and on Saturday the Wizards broke a number of Class B meet records, coming away with 110 points to top Barrington’s 81 and Classical’s 74.
“It’s West Warwick Track’s first ever Class Championship,” Wizard boys head coach Wayne Marsocci said. “Hopefully a sign of things to come.”
The Wizards’ first season with a track and field team competing in the RIIL was 1998-99. In 1932-33, Providence Trade won the first Class B Championship, and including West Warwick, there have been 19 different Class B Champions since. Classical leads with 30 Class B titles and 2014-15 champion Barrington is second all-time with 15. The rivalry between those two stretches back to the days of Lockwood and Aldrich’s Class B titles in the ‘40s.
“We thought if everything went according to the seeds, we had a good chance of winning; we’d probably win by ten,” Marsocci. “We had some kids who stepped up who we didn’t expect, or they moved up in place, and that gave us more of a cushion. The whole team did a great job, almost everybody PR’d. It couldn’t have been any better; I tell you, they worked real hard this year.”
The Wizards earned 23 points in the 300-meter dash with four in the top six. Seniors Amir Spriggs (36.60 seconds) and Justin Lucier (36.67) finished one and two, picking up ten and eight points, respectively. Juniors Zachary Padula (37.33) and Devin Collard (37.98) came in fourth and sixth. All four racers improved on their seeds. Spriggs and Lucier both dropped a second off their time, and both broke the meet record of 36.90, held by Classical’s Derek Jackson since 2012. Spriggs placed fourth in the 55-meter dash, running in 6.86 seconds, and senior Will Avery finished in 6.90 seconds. Senior Avery Williamson, Padula, Spriggs and Lucier combined in the 4x200-meter relay to run a time of 1:33.51, supplanting another Classical Class B meet record, of 1 minute, 35.10 seconds, from 2014. Padula, Collard, Spriggs and Lucier teamed up and broke another meet record, with a 3:36.38 in the 4x400. The 4x800 team, composed of Lucier, freshman Joe Amaral, senior Christian Ovalles and sophomore Evan Alves, finished third in 8 minutes, 51.60 seconds.
“We put a lot of pressure on them, saying ‘you’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do and if anybody could move up a little bit that would really help.’ They all either moved up or did what they were supposed to do.”
“We placed in almost every event except for I’ll say two; we didn’t place in the 3000, and we didn’t place in the 1500, which is big for us, because we’re not a distance school, but we got points in the 600, the 4x8 – they came out of nowhere and took third place. It was a really good meet; I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Alves placed fifth in the 1,000-meter run, running in 1 minute, 31.50 seconds. Junior Quindel Wilson finished the 600-meter in 1 minute, 31.50 seconds, good enough for third. Wilson also took first in the high jump clearing 6 feet. Junior Ivan Goretoy placed first in the shot put, reaching 47 feet 11 inches. The second place distance was five feet shorter. Wizard senior Isaac Manuel placed fourth, reaching 40 feet, 4.50 inches.
In the weight throw, Barrington senior Bobby Colontonio’s 79-foot-0.50-inch throw shattered last year’s meet record, thrown by Barrington’s Adam Kelly. But Goretoy came in second, reaching 57 feet, 7.50 inches. Wizard junior Alex Cabral placed sixth with a 51 foot, 1-inch toss.
It was all Wizards and Rebels in the long jump. Williamson’s 21 foot, 10-inch finals jump broke Classical’s Christian Pichardo’s 2015 record by five inches. But SK sophomore Anthony Shepard placed first, setting a new meet record at 22 feet, 0.25 inches. Rebel Qasim Flynn (19minute, 06.25 seconds) placed third, but Lucier (19 feet, 05.25 inches) and Wilson (19 feet, 04.50) placed fourth and fifth.
“It’s great for the whole program. We all work out together. The guys work so hard; it’s fantastic,” girls head coach Jeffrey Parenteau said of the boys’ victory.
The Wizard girls placed sixth as a team, with 28.66 points. Pilgrim led with 98, followed by Toll Gate with 88.
“I had us getting ninth, and we got sixth,” Parenteau continued about his own squad. “I didn’t really expect to win, but we had a lot of P.Rs – I think just about every girl P.R’d – they all worked so hard and I’m so proud of them. We really did well. This class, girls Medium is, I think, the toughest class. For them to really hang in with those teams, it’s really good.”
In the girls 55-meter dash, Wizard sophomore Kathryn Biliouris (7.60 seconds) placed sixth, and Biliouris (45.47) placed just out of the top six in the 300-meter dash. Senior Faye Gauthier placed fourth in the weight throw, reaching 46 feet, 1.25 inches, and she placed fifth in the shot put, reaching 33 feet, 1.25 inches.
In the 4x200, freshman Shalyne Scott, junior Maya Turnbull, senior Deandra Hernandez and Biliouris placed fourth, finishing in 1 minute, 53.77 seconds. In the high jump, sophomore Sydnee Costa-Castaldi placed second, reaching 4 feet, 10 inches. Senior Meghan Letendre and senior Haley Tyler tied at 4 feet, 6 inches.
“I think we’ve got about five or six going right now,” Parenteau said, looking ahead to the State Championships. “Our relay team P.R’d today, so I’m hoping to get that 4x2 in there.”
For Coventry, The Oaker girls 4x400 team, sophomore Kaitlyn Beard, sophomore Lauren Jacobs, senior Sam Noonan, and sophomore Jade Wilcox combined to finish in 11 minutes, 22.52 seconds. Oaker junior Ruby Nguyen, Ruby came in fourth in the weight throw, reaching 45 feet, 03.75 inches. Senior Charleen Theroux placed second for Coventry in the long jump, reaching 17 feet, 00.75 inches.
On the boys’ side, Coventry placed sixth in the 4 X 800. Junior John Agli, senior Trevor Campbell, junior Matt Cronin and junior David Mellon ran a 9:32.67.
The State Championships take place on February 20th at the PCTA.