New England’s Recap: Big Day For Ocean State At Reggie Lewis

With the New Balance Nationals and Nike Indoor Nationals on the slate this weekend, a few of our state’s top track & field athletes made the Reggie Lewis Center and the 36th annual New England Championships their final destination before competing in the respective meets.

The proof was there. Most appear ready to excel against the nation’s best.

(Photos by Sterling Vernon @RhodeAndTrack Sports Photography. For more great photos by Sterling, click HERE)

Defending champion Lisa Raye of West Warwick was a double-winner, and broke two state records in the process. The Wizards’ sophomore smashed the meet record and her own state mark in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.82 seconds, an effort that ranks No. 6 in the country. In a history-making event, older sister and junior Xenia Raye broke seven seconds for the first time to take runner-up honors in 6.95. Cranston West senior Ailani Sutherland placed seventh overall with a season best of 7.21.

“I was really shocked when I looked up on the board and saw 6.82,” Lisa Raye admitted.

The sub-seven-second clockings by the Raye siblings is believe to be the first time in the U.S., that two sisters have gone under that barrier for the short dash as high-schoolers.

Xenia sensed that she would run the the milestone time after coming close in her preliminary heat.

“When I saw my time was 7.02 in the prelims, I knew that today was going to be the day that I finally broke seven (seconds) and started running in the sixes,” she said. “When it was the finals and it finally came up, I really made sure I was pushing out from my block start. I made sure I remained in the drive phase because that’s really important and key to a race, and then I did it.”

It was two straight for Lisa Raye in the 300m dash, too. The WW phenom was the first to make the cutoff and never relinquished the lead from there, defending last year’s crown with a time of 38.74. That time broke the 2016 record of 38.86 by former Classical great May Stern. Xenia Raye was fourth in the race at 39.63). La Salle’s Alexis Caggianno also made the podium by taking eighth overall in 40.64.

Next up for Team Raye is the Nike Indoor Nationals in New York City where they’re both entered in the Championship races of the 60m and the 200m.

In the two mile, Chariho’s Erin vonHousen raced to a PR and nation No. 7 of 10:45.43. Top-seed Teanna Ewings of Houlton (ME) won the race in 10:40.09.

VonHousen was among the leaders throughout the race. She was in fifth place at the mile, which he passedin 5:25. She was able to gradually knock off her competitor, except for Ewing, the remainder of the way.

“I wasn’t worried about time today as much as trying to kind of race the race,” she said. “There was a lot bigger pack than what I am used to. I was just trying to stay in it and see how the race went.”

The Charger senior’s performance follows her first sub five-minute clocking for the mile at the Ocean Breeze Elite Invitational a week earlier where she finished second overall in 4:58.36.

Like the Rayes, vonHousen will be heading to the Nike meet. She’s entered in the Championship 3K, 800m and Mile, held on separated days at The Armory. She doesn’t necessarily have any time goals when she competes down in NYC at the three-day meet.

“I’m kind of just going out there and see what I can run,” she said. “I feel like when I get caught up in the times, I tend to overthink it. If I just go out there and race and see what I can do against the other people, that seems to be when I run my best.”

The Ocean State had a trio of athletes make the podium in the boys’ mile, all three with PR performances. La Salle’s Marshall Vernon was second overall at 4:16.22. He was followed by Narragansett’s Cole Francis (fourth, 4:18.61) and Cumberland’s Will O’Shea (eighth, 4:22.34).

Maddox Jordan of Noble (ME) was the individual winner with a time of 4:15.49. Vernon maintained contact with the leaders from the beginning of the race, hovering in fourth or fifth through most of the eight-lapper. He moved into second with a little more than a lap remaining and covered his final 200m in 32 seconds to almost catch Jordan down the stretch.

“I’m honestly happy with the place,” Vernon said. “I wasn’t seen as someone that was going to win it at all going into it. I kind of just wanted to race it. I wasn’t stressed about this race. It was kind of the cherry on top of the season.”

Vernon is entered in the two mile and mile at the New Balance Nationals in Boston at the TRACK at New Balance.

“It’s definitely going to be the two mile,” he said. “The mile is still up in the air, but I’m signed up. I can do it. I am pretty excited for both.”

The Mariners’ Francis broke 4:20 for the first time in his career with a three-second best.

“Coming into it, I didn’t have any time goals,” he said. “I just wanted to have fun, try and continue my season and get some momentum going into the nationals next weekend.”

Francis will be competing at New Balance this weekend.

“I’m entered in the two mile, and hopefully after today, the mile,” he said.

Moses Brown’s Eli Ziegler has a big afternoon in the 1,000m with a more than four-second PR of 2:31.23. That effort earned Ziegler a sixth-place finish and is the state’s fastest time this season. Ponaganset’s Jeremy Roe, the state 1K champion, was tenth overall with a best of 2:31.94.

“At the state meet, I didn’t do as well as I was hoping,” said Ziegler, making reference to his third-place finish and previous best of 2:35.28. “I was hoping to come here and do a lot better. I honestly didn’t think I could run that fast. I was hoping for 2:33, 2:34. My legs were feeling super good and everything went well.”

La Salle Academy’s 4x200m relay squad, a victor at the State Meet two weeks earlier, combined for a season-best time of 1:31.01 to place third overall. The quartet of Joshua Aceto, Garrett Giroux-Pezzullo, Thaden Leomensah and Anotnio Bearden won their heat, a little less than a second ahead of Barrington. The Eagles were timed in a best of 1:32.36, an effort that secured 12th among the 33 teams.

Classical was eighth in the girls’ 4x200m with a best of 1:46.72.

In the girls’ mile, Saint Raphael Academy’s Rory Sullivan was seventh overall with a time of 5:03.98.

La Salle and Classical both made the podium in the boys’ 4x400m with a pair of sub 3:30 clockings. The Rams were third with a time of 3:26.02, while the Purple were eighth in 3:28.72.

Classical came a few strides from breaking four minutes in the girls’ 4x400m. The Purple grabbed the bronze in 4:00.91. South Kingstown was eighth at 4:07.02.

In the boys’ 55m hurdles, Barrington teammates Bobby Wind (second, 7.54) and Ethan Knight (fifth, 7.72) earned spots on the podium.

In a loaded boys’ 4x800m, Moses Brown and Barrington both ran season best. The Quakers were eighth overall with a time of 8:03.80. The Eagles were ninth in 8:08.87.



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