PROVIDENCE â€“ One little setback at an inopportune time hasnâ€™t stopped Aleide Fernandes from doing what she does best â€“ winning state titles.
The Central Falls senior, who already owns five individual crowns in various weight events, is far ahead of the field this winter in her specialties with throws of 53 feet, 4 Â˝ in the 20-pound weight and 37-8 in the shot put.
Fernandes still feels ready to shine at the state championships on Feb. 19, despite being sidetracked somewhat due to tendonitis in her left elbow, an injury that has kept her from competing the past two meets for the Warriors.
â€śIâ€™ll be ready,â€ť she said. â€śI feel confident.â€ť
Fernandes was speaking inside the Providence Athletic Facility about a half hour after winning the shot put in Monday nightâ€™s Sullivan Division tri-meet with Moses Brown and Rogers. The Warriors swept their league rivals, including a close 56-51 decision over the Quakers, to finish the dual meet season at 6-2 -- their best record in school history.
While that was an important achievement, it was also important that Fernandes was back in the circle. Since achieving her top marks in her events back in December, the C.F. standout hasnâ€™t fallen short in cracking those distances.
The elbow injury didnâ€™t exactly help matters.
â€śShe had been complaining about it since basically the start of the season,â€ť said Central Falls assistant coach Nick Palazzo â€śWe do a lot of weight training and she would always complain.â€ť
After dealing with the pain over the last month, Fernandes had her elbow checked and it was determined that she had tendonitis.
â€śThree weeks ago is when it started hurting real bad,â€ť she said. â€śI noticed that my (left) arm I couldnâ€™t straighten it out, but my right arm I could.â€ť
The injury did keep Fernandes from practicing the last two weeks, but she feels the worse of the pain is now behind her. In Mondayâ€™s meet, she competed in just the shot and tossed the metal ball a credible distance of 32-7 ÂĽ.
Fernandes will throw the weight at the divisional championships this Wednesday, weather permitting.
â€śShe tried to glide on her first throw and she felt some pain in her elbow,â€ť said Palazzo, about the shot put last night. â€śI told her stop gliding. I am just really trying to not let her get hurt and save the big meets for the states. I want her to be 100 percent for the states.â€ť
Palazzo does believe his star athlete can come close to her best of 56-10 in the weight, a distance she achieved at the nationals in New York last March. He believes she even has potential to surpass 60 feet.
â€śWe are optimistic that she can still do it,â€ť he said. â€śThe injury came at a bad time in the middle of the season. Whatâ€™s going to get her 60 feet is doing speed work. Sheâ€™s got all the strength in the world. She just needs a little more speed. Sheâ€™s going to get it unfortunately the injury wasted some training time.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t think (the injury) is going to affect her at all,â€ť he continued. â€śSheâ€™s still poised to do the states. Itâ€™s a little bit of a setback, but itâ€™s an injury, an obstacle for her to overcome. Sheâ€™ll be fine. Sheâ€™s still very optimistic. Sheâ€™s in high spirits.â€ť
Tiffany Jenkins was the star of the night for Central Falls in its meet with Moses Brown and Rogers Jenkins earned gold in three events by taking the 55-meter hurdles in a time of 10.3, the 300 in 48.1 and the high jump with a season-best of 4-10.
Kadijah Johnson copped the 55 dash with a personal-best clocking of 7.5 and was on the Warriorsâ€™ winning 4x200 relay squad. Breanna Cooley led a 1-2-3 sweep in the long jump with her first-place distance of 15- Âľ.
Woonsocket High earned the dual-meet crown in the Dwyer Division with a sweep of Ponaganset and West Warwick. The Villa Novans, last yearâ€™s divisional champions, concluded a perfect 8-0 season in the league.
â€śOne of the goals this year was to try and go undefeated,â€ť said WHS coach Dan Richard. â€śI am not sure a Woonsocket girlsâ€™ team has ever done that in indoor. That was one of the goals. We got some new girls out this year that helped. Itâ€™s been a good year. They worked hard in practice and stayed focused on what we needed to do.â€ť
Sophomore Kaylnn Pitts, one of Woonsocketâ€™s â€śnew girlsâ€ť this indoor season, copped three events. Pitts, the defending outdoor titlist in the high jump, copped her specialty with a height of five-feet even. She also took the long jump at 16- ÂĽ and in her inaugural effort in the 300 won by more than five seconds with a time of 44.3.
Woonsocket also had victories from Jordan lopes in the 600 (1:54.5), Justyna Pietrus in the 55 hurdles (9.6), Latoya Dythe in the 55 dash (7.5) and its 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
Ali Sayles leaped a winning height of 5-0 in the high jump and also was second in the 55 hurdles in 9.5 for Mount St. Charles (2-6), which dropped a pair of meets East Greenwich and North Kingstown in their Bayha Division showdown.
Cumberland (4-4) came up short in its Headley Division meet with Barrington and Bay View. The Clippers had two of their athletes cop gold. Amber Russell won the high jump at 4-10 and Brianna Pina took the shot put with a 29-3 ÂĽ effort.