Raye Sisters Power West Warwick To Girls’ State Title

Just 1.75 inches. Just 1.75 inches in one of the most competitive long jump competitions this state has ever witnessed.

That was the difference between winning four titles as opposed to just three for West Warwick’s Lisa Raye at this weekend’s RIIL State Indoor T&F Championships. The sophomore phenom was once again at her best at Saturday’s meet. She earned bronze in the long jump, but struck it rich the 55-meter dash, 55m hurdles and 300m. Along with a pair of stellar performance in the short dash and 300m by her sister, Xenia, and some crucial points in the high jump, West Warwick won its first-ever indoor state crown. Eight months after claiming the school’s inaugural outdoor title, the Wizards survived a too-close-for-comfort 61-55.5 decision over defending titlist Classical for their latest championship.

“I don’t even know what to say. They amaze me. Every time I see them run, they amaze me,” said WW coach Jeff Parenteau, about the Raye sisters. “They work so hard. They listen to us. They put in the work, just amazing.”

“We were really proud of ourselves, especially from coming in and winning during the outdoor season,” Xenia Raye said. “To win indoors, we are very proud. We worked hard for this.”

There was no question in would be another special day for Lisa Raye, who matched her three victories from last year’s meet and then captured an unprecedented four events at the outdoor states. She made it apparent in the first two events of the day. Raye began by establishing a new meet record in the 55-meter hurdles where she was timed in a PR of 8.29, an effort that ranks No. 2 all-time in the state and is just .08 from the 22-year-old RI mark of 8.21 by former Chariho great Mary Serdokowski. Shortly after the hurdles, Raye smashed her state record in the 55m dash for the fourth time this season with a blazing 6.89, an effort that ties her for No. 6 in the nation.

“In that race, I was really focused on my block starts and getting my knees up and really moving and pushing out of the blocks really hard so that I could have a good start to get ahead and be able to run that time ,” Raye said.

The younger Raye came from behind to edge his older sibling in the 300m where they posted times of 39.59 and 39.66, respectively. In the dash, Xenia Raye was timed in 7.11. She had a PR of 7.09 to win her heat in the prelims and hold the meet record momentarily.

“I was very proud of myself,” said Xenia Raye, about the 300m. “Coming in, i think my time was a 41.20. To be able to come out here and PR by that much and run a 39 (seconds) and some change, I was really, really proud of myself.”

The long jump proved to be one of the most exciting events of the day. In a back-and-forth competition, Cranston West’s Quiana Pezza claimed the title on her last jump of the competition, soaring to an all-time best of 18 feet, 10.5 inches. Previous leader Seirra Thompson of South Kingstown was second at 18-9 and Lisa Raye was third at 18-8.75. The trio, along with the next five finishers, had PRs in the event.

“I really wanted to win the long jump,” Raye said. “But I know I still have next year and I’m really happy that I was was able to jump (18-8.75) now because I know next year I can jump farther and I know my potential.”

The Wizards also collected seven points in the high jump, points that were needed to get past Classical. Shanna Correia and Tatianna Baldinell tied for fourth in the event with identical leaps of 4-10 to earn the crucial points.

In the long jump, the Falcons’ Pezza went into the competition as a two seed with a previous best of 18-1.25 from her victory at the Class A Championships two week earlier. On Saturday, she had five jumps over 18 feet in her series, including an 18-5.25 on her first attempt and 18-6.25 on her second.

“I was really nervous,” she said, concerning her thoughts before her winning jump. “I know I had my 18-6, but I didn’t know if I could get to where Sierra was with 18-9. I practice a decent amount. We don’t get a lot of practice because it’s so cold outside and we don’t have an indoor facility. I just had a lot of technique training and I was like, ‘You know what, just believe in yourself, and go out there. It is what it is,’ and I got the jump.”

For Thompson, her effort was a foot longer that her previous best of 17-9 set a week earlier at the RITCA Last Chance Qualifier. The Rebel senior didn’t go home empty-handed, though. In addition to her runner-up finish, Thompson also finished second in the 55m hurdles (8.72) and captured the high jump title where she cleared a PR and school record of 5-6.5.

“It feels great,” she said. “I really didn’t expect to make it over because my PR is 5-4. “I was really happy with myself after that.”

As expected, top-seed Erin vonHousen of Chariho cruised to the 3K title. The Charger senior led for most of the 15-lapper and finished with a time of 10:07.70. Cumberland’s Kiley DeFusco was second in a PR of 10:15.24. North Kingstown freshman Abbie Tighe was third with a best of 10:18.50. VonHousen came back and took third overall in the 1,000m where she was timed in 3:01.69.

The Charger distance ace admitted a sub 10-minute effort in the 3K was on her mind.

“I feel like I wasn’t feeling quite as good as I might have hoped to during the race,, but still was able to keep the splits consistent, keep the pace honest and come home with the win, which i was definitely really happy with,” she said. “(Sub-10) is kind of what I was hoping for. I kind of knew right around the 1,000, when I was getting tired a little earlier than I might have liked to, if I was going to try and break 10 (minutes).”

In the 1,000m, Toll Gate’s Alison Pankowicz won her first individual state title with a PR of 3:00.97. St. Ray’s Rory Sullivan was second at 3:01.60. Pankowicz saved her best for last, clocking 33.76 for her last 200m to break away from the field.

The Titans senior took the patient approach. She held back despite an opening 400m split of 1:14.05 by race-leader Keaney Bayha of Pilgrim (fourth, 3:01.71).

“It was definitely a little slower at the beginning, but I wasn’t looking to take it right out from the start and take the lead” Pankowicz said. “I was just looking to stay with the leaders. (It) didn’t bother me that it went out slow.”

The Saints’ Rory Sullivan and Bayha were engaged in a tight battle in the 1,500m. By the midway point, it was clear it would be a two-person race between the duo. Bayha led for most of the race, passing through the 800m mark at 2:25 with Sullivan just a stride behind. The Saints senior was able to overtake her rival late on the final lap and crossed the line in a PR of 4:39.31. Bayha held on for second with a best of 4:42.14. The Clippers’ DeFusco was third at 4:54.56. The top six in the field broke five minutes.

“It was great having Keaney there. She such a great competitor,” Sullivan said. “I was happy to have someone right there to push me. She really pushed me. I didn’t honestly feel great, as good as I was expecting. But I was happy to be able to kick at the end and come out on top.”

With a strong finishing kick, Mount St. Charles’ Emmy Belvin won the 600m with a PR of 1:36.57. Moses Brown’s Skyler Maxwell was second in 1:38.68. Westerly’s Sydney Halk was third in 1:38.72.

In the throwing events, Woonsocket’s red-hot junior Adelaide Caron continued her supremacy in the 20-pound weight with a winning heave of 51-3.25. in four of her last five meets, Caron has exceeded 50 feet. Finishing second at Saturday’s meet was Coventry’s Mia Hoskins with a distance of 48-2.5. Classical’s Gifty Bediako was third at 48-1.5. Bediako came back later in the meet to win the shot. She unleashed a top toss and PR of 38-2.75 She was more than a foot further than runner-up Lacie Grenier of Cumberland (36-11.5).




Share Your Thoughts