Charlie Breagy didn’t think the odds were favorable for North Kingstown High to win Sunday’s RIIL Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
Even without its national-ranked distance runner Mike Marsella competing due to an injury, the Skipper coach still felt that Chariho Regional was the favorite to snare its second straight title. There were also other strong squads such as Westerly, Classical and perennial contender Bishop Hendricken.
“I knew we were in the mix,” Breagy stated. “I told the guys we are a 20-to-1 chance to win this meet. If the stars line up and we all exceed a little bit, we could pull it off. But it was a long shot and every now and then a 20-to-1 shot comes up.”
And it did, indeed.
With key placements throughout the meet and a clutch second-place finish by its 4x400-meter relay squad in the day’s final event, the Skippers captured their first state crown since 2007 with a narrow 53-50 victory over Chariho and Westerly, who both tied for second.
The meet turned into a down-to-the-wire affair. Entering the 4x400, North Kingstown trailed Chariho and Westerly, 50-45.That meant in order to take home the team plaque, N.K. would need to finish at least two places ahead of both teams with the six-point differential enough to earn the title.
The Skipper quartet of senior Demonte Cawley, senior Ryan Glantz, sophomore Zachery Emrich and sophomore Benjamin Stewart came through by combining for a time of 3 minutes, 27.09 seconds. Central won the event at 3:23.33.
Breagy didn’t hesitate to tell the relay members the importance of their race.
“We were down there talking, praying,” he said. “They knew exactly what we needed to do. They gave it their all, every one of them.”
Running the anchor, Stewart got the baton in fourth place. With a 400 split near 50 seconds, he moved into second before the midway point and held that position to the finish.
Westerly was actually in the position to win with 200 meters left as the Bulldogs were nestled in fourth. But they were passed by Barrington (third, 3:28.15) and East Greenwich (seventh, 3:30.15) in the closing stages. Based on times run in the unseeded heat, Central Falls, Narragansett and Hendricken managed to take the fourth through sixth slots, respectively.
“We just happened to have that one extra gear at the end,” Breagy said. “It came right down to that relay, and with a half a lap remaining we were out. Westerly had it with a half a lap to go and then the last half two teams passed Westerly and that what gave it to us.”
North Kingstown had just one individual champion with Stewart claiming the top prize in the 300 intermediate hurdles (39.96). But it also had a second-place effort from senior Evan Scott (6 foot, 4 inches), a fourth from Emrich in the 400 (50.32), a third from its 4x800 team (8:06.32) and some crucial placements in the 1,500 and 800.
“We got points everywhere I thought we would get them,” Breagy said. “We had a stellar meet. If everything went well we scored what I thought we would score. But to think that 53 points would win the meet, we didn’t think that. We figured 59, 58. Everything would have to go absolutely right for us, and it did.”
The Chargers’ Marsella, who is suffering from a ganglion cyst on his left arch, watched the meet with a boot on his leg. The University of Virgina-bound runner’s progress has been going well with pool workouts and head coach Bill Haberek does expect him to be ready by the New Balance Nationals on June 16 where the Chargers will be competing in the 4x1 mile relay, an event they set a national record at the indoor nationals.
Despite Marsella’s absence, Chariho still almost had the title, thanks to its remaining distance core. Junior Bryce Kelley was a double winner for the Chargers by breaking the tape in the 1,500 (4:02.54) and the 800 (1:55.94). Senior teammate Dan Kilcoyne collected 14 points by taking second in the 800 (1:57.36) and third in the 1,500 (4:08.14). Kelley and Kilcoyne also combined with junior Joe DiPalma and senior Drew Turner to win the meet’s opening event, the 4x800 relay (7:58.71).The Chargers also had a third from junior Jake Kilcoyne in the 3,000 (8:50.54).
The six-hour meet, held at the Brown University stadium, featured several outstanding efforts.
In the hammer throw, top-seed Joe Velez unleashed a winning throw of 219-11. He currently owns the No. 2 toss in the country with a best of 221-4.
Junior Trevor Crawley improved on his personal-best by more than seven seconds to cop the 3,000 with a time of 8:42.17. Crawley held the front-runner spot for most of the 7 ½ lap race, putting on a surge with a little more than 800 meters left to win comfortably over second-place Colin Tierney, a sophomore from Bishop Hendricken (8:50.49).
Crawley owned the top seed, running 8:49.6 at the Hendricken Invitational on May 26.
“I just wanted to go 70 (seconds) for every lap and just hold on,” he said. “I was pretty confident. I ran well all season.”
Central Falls senior Steven Vazquez won his third straight high jump title, clearing 6-8. But Vazquez did not show the smile of a champion. Instead, he was upset with his performance.
With a 6-10 best, Vazquez was aiming to reach seven feet at the states.
“I just have to continue practicing,” he said. “I put so much work into this week; not just this week, but the whole season. I jumped 6-10 in practice this week…It’s just frustrating today.”
West Warwick senior Eddie Uthman won two events. Uthman was the first across the line in the 100, running 10.99. He also took the long jump with a distance of 23-1/4.