Eagles Strike It Rich With School’s First Boys’ State Crown

For the last 11 years, La Salle Academy and Bishop Hendricken have had a stranglehold on the team title at the RIIL State Indoor Track & Field Championships. There’s been no secret formula for either powerhouse taking home the hardware. It’s primarily been done with not only some key top placements, but their outstanding depth that’s stretched out over several events.

That’s what Barrington had coming into Saturday’s meet at the PCTA field house. The Eagles had what it takes to win meets like these, much like the Rams and Hawks have had the last decade.

Now the tough part. Having everyone on the same page when it counts the most. Having everyone perform when the pressure is at its peak.

If would be safe to say, the Eagles had it this past weekend. And perhaps a little more. A meet that was expected to be close between the Barrington and the defending champion Hawks, turned into a convincing triumph for the Eagles, who won the school’s first-ever team title with a 97.50-64.50 win over runner-up La Salle. Hendricken placed third with 57 points.

A pair of school records from their 4×200-meter and 4x400m relay squads, a dominating finish in the 55m hurdles and a runner-up performance in the weight throw were among the many highlights for the Eagles, who became the first public school to earn the boys’ team plaque since Chariho won it all during the 2011-12 season.

“Everybody on the team rose to the occasion. It was spectacular,” said Barrington coach Bill Barrass. “There were guys scoring points that we didn’t really expect. Joe Adams, seeded seventh in the weight throw, finished second. He wasn’t seeded (among the top eight) in the shot and finished fourth. Just a whole bunch of things like that today… It was an absolutely incredible day.”

Adam’s effort in the weight, where he had a three-foot PR of 67 feet, 7.5 inches to take the silver, along with his fourth-place finish in the shot (46-11), proved to be a preview of what to expect throughout the day. On paper, the Eagles’ sophomore was expected to score just two points, rather than the 13 he walked away with.

“It was a pretty magical day for us,” Barrass said.

Barrington scored 26.5 points in the relays. The foursome of Iain DeBoth, Will DiGiacomo, Ethan Knight and Hayden Knight combined for a winning time of 3:30.24 in the meet-ending 4x400m. The Eagles also grabbed runner-up placements in the 4x200m (1:32.50) and the 4x800m (8:15.41).

In the 55m hurdles, Ethan Knight led a 1-2-5-8 finish and 26 more points for the Eagles. Knight edged teammate Bobby Wind by five hundredths of a second with his winning time of 7.66. The Eagles’ Jared Lesk was fifth (8.09) and Ryan Martin placed eighth (8.27). Besides the hurdles and the 4×4, Knight was also on the 4×2 squad and was fifth in the 300m (36.39), an event Wind was sixth (36.74).

“He just a competitor,” Barrass said. “You put someone in front of him and he’s just going to give it everything he can to catch them. We got a whole bunch of guys like that.”

Barrington had other top placements from Brandon Piedade in the 1,500m (third, 4:05.24), Gabe Tavares in the 55m dash (6.58), Chuck Potter in the long jump (21-8) and Shea Parish in the high jump (6-2).

La Salle had a mammoth day from sophomore Marshall Vernon, who won the 3,000m (8:40.65) and 1,500m (4:01.73) and also placed fourth in the 1,000m (2:38.84) to score 25 points individually.

In the 3K, Vernon took the patient approach. Rather than dictating the pace with his typical front-running style, he held back and didn’t take over the lead until there was just about 800m left. Portsmouth’s Sean Gray (second, 8:45.66) made sure the race was honest by pushing the pace through most of the 15-lapper. He led the pack through an opening mile of 4:42.

“He told me right before the race he wanted that New Balance (Nationals) qualifier, and that’s like an 8:42 or something like that. I knew he was gong to take it out hard,” Vernon said. “I knew I had to stay back a little bit and let him run the race. I was going to triple and everyone kind of knew it before the race. I wanted to leave as much as humanly possible in the tank. I knew at some point Sean was going to go. I had to keep going fast with him. I ended up going 8:40, so it was a fast race, a hard race. But it was fun. Sean is always great fun to run against. All these guys were really fun to run against.”

In the 1,500m, Vernon was matched up against the fresh legs of top-seed Cole Francis of Narragansett. Francis went to work quickly, and with Cumberland’s Will Olson on his shoulders, led the pack through a 400m split of 64 seconds and the 800m at 2:11. Olson took over the front-running duties for the next few laps before Francis regained it back with just over a lap remaining. It was just about there that Vernon was starting to hit his stride. He clocked 59 seconds for his final 400m, including 28.65 for his last 200m. On the final stretch, he squeezed past Francis with just few meters remaining. The Mariner junior crossed the line in 4:02.15 with Piedade and Olson (fourth, 4:06.04) taking the next two spots.

“I had no expectations of winning that race, honestly” Vernon admitted. “My brain was kind of thinking, Cole’s got fresh legs. He’s the best runner in this event in the state right now. I never doubt myself going into races. I always think anything is possible. But it was seeming really unlikely. We were all bunched in the pack. I was getting shoved around in the back. With like a quartet of a lap to go, I was pushing and I didn’t want to lose. I just kept running faster and faster. I ended up winning. It was a crazy race. I’m kind of shocked. Cole’s an amazing runner. He was pushing it really fast. I’m thankful for it. It was really fun to run.”

Ponaganset’s Jeremy Roe won the 1,000m in 2:33.52. It was a race he led for nearly the entire five laps. Cumberland’s Connor Magill (fifth, 2:39.67) bursted to the front around 600m, and led briefly before Roe took charge for the remaining 300-plus meters. Francis powered his way to second in 2:34.50. Moses Brown’s Eli Ziegler was third (2:35.28), while Vernon was fourth.

“I could (hear footsteps) and then I couldn’t,” said Roe about the final lap. “I looked back just to make sure. I had it in me the last 200 (meters). I felt good.”

Central’s Elijah Gardea captured the 55m dash. The Class A winner blazed to a PR of 6.44, a best by nearly two tenths of a second. He finished just ahead of top-seed Alonso Parker Sharpe of Cranston West, who was timed in 6.48 for second. Hendricken’s Jeremy Sieidi was third at 6.58.

“I have been practicing all week,” Gardea said. “I was ready. I came here with a chip on my shoulder. I said, ‘I got to go out there and make my coach proud.’ He put his time and effort into training me to get faster each day.”

The Knights also had a victory from Demetrius Outland in the high jump. The outdoor titlist, who was second at this meet last winter, cleared 6-4. Middletown’s Cam Miller was second, also a 6-4. Outland won on fewer misses.

Outland cleared all his jumps on the first attempt, beginning at 5-10.

“I cleared every single height up until it got to 6-6,” he said. “Even at 6-6, it was very good jumps. My leg, I hit it like the last second. I intend on clearing those jumps in the upcoming nationals and outdoor, definitely.”

Chariho’s Elias Sposato edged Parker-Sharpe at the line to take the 300m. He was timed in 35.94 to the Falcon senior’s 35.99 effort.

Hendricken’s Jacob Coates came from behind to win the 600m in a PR of 1:22.86. Robbie Wade of Westerly was second with a best of 1:23.68. Thomas Breen of Classical was third at 1:24.37, also a PR.

La Salle’s Ephraim Abhulime was a winner in the long jump with a distance of 22-6.5.

In the shot, Lincoln’s Tyler Durang, the No. 3 seed, posted a mild upset with a first-place toss and PR of 52-9.75. Top-seeded Kaden Thomas of Rogers was second with a distance of 51-2.75.

Hendricken’s Matt Giuliano emerged victorious in the 25-pound weight with a heave of 69-7.5. Giuliano continued his late-season excellence. In the week prior to Saturday’s meet, he finished second at the Millrose Games on Feb. 9 with a previous best of 69-4.25. He followed that performance by taking third the next day at the RITCA Last Chance Meet with a solid 67-2.25.

Moses Brown was winner in the 4x800m (8:13.48) and La Salle earned gold in the 4x200m (1:32.45).




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