By SULLY CUMMINS
With the State Championships a week away, some of our athletes looked to improve their seeds heading in or sharpen up at the RITCA Last Chance Qualifier.
Here’s what happened on Saturday…
The Westerly boys kicked off the meet with 8 minutes, 26.06 seconds in the 4×800-meter relay, which is good for the second seed in next week’s State Meet. Cumberland’s Jake Schonhoff and Saint Raphael’s Mackenzie Lickert raced to wins in the 3000m in 9:38.50 and 11:13.48, respectively.
Jeremiah Rocha of St. Raphael Academy held off strong races by Cumberland’s William O’Shea and Ponaganset’s Owen Klein in the boys’ 1500m, winning in wire-to-wire fashion with a time of 4:07.96. O’Shea and Klein ran times of 4:09.11 and 4:09.73, respectively.
“I want to have people question what I’m doing at states,” Rocha said. “Last week I was running multiple events for the team, but today was about me.”
The race of the day on the girls’ side was a close one between Mount St. Charles’ Emmy Belvin and Chariho’s Erin vonHousen in the 600m. The race came down to a lean with Belvin winning in 1:40.31 to vonHousen’s 1:40.61. As two of the more versatile runners in the state, holding qualifying marks in multiple events, it’ll be exciting to see what they decide to run next week.
The boys’ 600m was exciting in its own right, as Thomas Breen of Classical claimed the victory and state No. 2 time of 1:24.92 out of the first of four heats. Eli Ziegler of Moses Brown was second in a PR of 1:25.29, and Henry Stockwell of Barrington was third in a PR 1:26.81.
The boys 300m was as exciting as predicted with Ethan Knight of Barrington powering home to a win and new school record in 36.16.
“I keep getting beat on the breaks and that always affects how I run my race, having to deal with them slowing down on the bend” Knight said. “I was for sure going to win this break. The North Smithfield kid, a great runner, came up on me right at the break. So I powered through, got to the turn and from there it was a kick, and I feel great about mine.”
Knight said the whole point of him racing at Last Chance was to make it into the fast heat at States, and his time should get him there.
Prout’s Eli Wood and North Smithfield’s Eli Lamoureux finished second and third with times of 36.66 and 37.28, respectively.
The girls 55m dash was a nail-biter, as Jasmin Berganza out of Classical barely beat Cumberland’s Grace Bleyer with a time of 7.54 to 7.55. Lilian Racine of Ponaganset finished in third with a time of 7.63.
In the 1,000m,, Michael Goodson of Smithfield was able to dip under 2:40 and run 2:39.75. On the girls’ side, Toll Gate’s Alison Pankowicz ran a PR and state No. 2 time of 3:02.75, after trailing in the middle of the pack the whole race.
“I really just wanted to run a faster 1,000 than I have this season to make it into the seeded heat at states, and PR,” said Pankowicz. “Looking back at it right now, I think that I had 2 laps that I could have pushed more on and not have fallen back as far as I did. I think I still would’ve had a bit of closing speed as well, so I think getting those laps on the middle faster and keeping the last lap fast will help.”
Switching gears from the track to field events, the girls’ shot was another battle between Cumberlands Lacie Grenier and Classical’s Gifty Bediako. Grenier took the win again, with a throw of 37 feet, 5.5 inches. Bediako finished behind her with a throw of 36-8.5.. We are looking forward to another duel between the two next week.
In the girls’ weight throw, Adelaide Carron of Woonsocket remained the only thrower to heave over 50 feet this year, as she won with a throw of 50 feet exactly. In second and third was Coventry’s Mia Hoskins and Ponaganset’s Jillian Walters with throws of 48-6.5 and 48-0.25 inches.
On the boys’ side, Lincoln’s Tyler Durang inserted himself into the conversation for the shot put crown next weekend. Durang finished third with a PR of 50-5.75, improving on his throw from last weekend to win the Class B title. He was beaten by the top two shot-putters in the state, with Brandon Wolfenden of Pilgrim winning in 52-3.25 and Rogers’ Kaden Thomas throwing 51-11..
In the boys’ weight, Durang threw a new state number one mark of 68-9 to beat Hendricken’s Derek Goll and Matt Giuliano, who threw 67-2.75 inches and 67-2.25, respectively.
In the jumps, Sierra Thompson of South Kingstown leapt to a win in the girls; long jump with a PR of 17-9. This mark is good for third in the state. Hunter Schobel of Pilgrim won the boys long jump with a mark of 21-7.5.