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PROVIDENCE â€” Erik Mateo understands the tradition he upheld Saturday, his winning leap of 6 feet, 2 inches ensuring that the boysâ€™ indoor high jump title will remain property of the Central Falls track program for another 12 months.
Naturally, Mateo couldnâ€™t wait to share his good fortune with 2012 Central Falls graduate Steven Vazquez, who a year ago, captured the same event at the same venue where Saturdayâ€™s R.I. High School Indoor Track & Field Championships unfolded. Standing in the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house with a gold medal draped around his neck, Mateo talked about the pressure one feels whenever the torch is passed.
â€śDuring my freshman and sophomore years, (Vazquez) always pushed me,â€ť Mateo stated. â€śHe kept critiquing me and that was a great inspiration.â€ť
As he watched Vazquez â€“ presently enjoying a strong campaign with CCRIâ€™s indoor track team â€“ celebrate top honors a year ago, Mateo privately wondered the steps he would have to take in order to achieve higher than the sixth-place showing he recorded at the 2012 states. The C.F. junior entered Saturdayâ€™s meet seeded second behind Coventryâ€™s Lawrence Warwick, whose mark of 6 feet, 4 inches appeared to be the benchmark goal for all participants.
The tale of how Mateo ultimately struck gold was based on pure technicality with the C.F. jumper hitting the bar fewer times than his counterparts â€“ Warwick and Charihoâ€™s Kyle Kirby â€“ during the final showdown. Mateo came up short on all three of his attempts when the bar was hoisted to 6-4, but so did his fellow competitors.
â€śI cleared everything on my first attempt [when the bar was positioned 5-10] and again at 6-2,â€ť noted Mateo.
At last Tuesdayâ€™s Class B Championships, Mateo â€śsettledâ€ť for a six-foot leap. Asked what he did in the days leading up to Saturdayâ€™s rendezvous with destiny, he answered, â€śItâ€™s just mental. You have to be mentally prepared and eat well. My coaches (Brendan Lamboy, Ernest Fennell and Richard McPhillips) pushed me to get here and the determination I put forth helped me to keep the tradition going.â€ť
Mateo will now set his sights on the New England high school track meet, scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Boston. Locally heâ€™ll be joined by the 4x200 relay squads from East Providence and Shea. The Townie quartet of Chris Moura, Josh Rambert, Justin Pelletier, Ryan Williams finished third overall and one second ahead of the Raidersâ€™ Boubacar Lemon, Dennis Lloyd, Jaures Tetchi and Samson Olowoporoku.
Individually, the Townies received a third-place finish from Moura in the long jump while Williams placed fourth in the 300. Tolman senior Veronica Wiggins settled for third in the shot put with St. Raphaelâ€™s Ashley Jackson coming in fourth in the 1,500. Central Fallsâ€™ Tiffany Jenkins finished second to Woonsocketâ€™s Kaylnn Pitts in the high jump.
R.I. INDOOR STATE MEET
At Providence Career & Technical Academy field house
1. Bishop Hendricken 75; 2. Classical 65; 3. Chariho 25; 4. Coventry 34; 5. La Salle 31; 6. Barrington 29; 7. (tie) Cumberland, North Kingstown, East Providence 20; 10. (tie) East Greenwich, Central 18; 12. Hope 11; 13. (tie) Central Falls, Woonsocket 10; 15. Pilgrim 9; 16. Moses Brown 8; 17. Westerly 6; 18. (tie) South Kingstown, Cranston West, Shea 4; 21. Toll Gate 2; 22. Portsmouth 1.
High jump: 1. Erik Mateo (CF) 6-2.
3,000: 1. Trevor Crawley (C) 8:47.95.
4x200: 3. East Providence (Chris Moura, Josh Rambert, Justin Pelletier, Ryan Williams), 1:36.66; 4. Shea (Boubacar Lemon, Dennis Lloyd, Jaures Tetchi, Samson Olowoporoku), 1:37.16.
4x800: 5. Cumberland (David Agudelo, Kevin Seaver, Alex Southiere, Matt Smith), 8:36.02.
Long jump: 3. Moura (EP) 21-5.
1,500: 2. Crawley (C) 4:10.22.
300: 4. Ryan Williams (EP) 37.49.
1. (tie) La Salle, Classical 89; 3. Hope 24; 4. Barrington 23; 5. Cumberland 19; 6. Pilgrim 17; 7. North Kingstown; 8. (tie) Exeter/West Greenwich, Mount St. Charles, Woonsocket 14; 11. Portsmouth 13; 12. (tie) Coventry, Bay View 11; 14. (tie) Narragansett, Prout, Westerly, South Kingstown, Mount Hope 10; 19. Central Falls 8; 20. Ponaganset 6.5; 21. Tolman 6; 22. (tie) East Providence, Lincoln, St. Raphael 2; 25. Toll Gate 1.5; 26. Wheeler 1.
High jump: 2. Tiffany Jenkins (CF) 5-2.
55 hurdles: 2. Breigh Souliere (C) 8:64; 5. Brittany Redding (L) 9:00.
Shot put: 2. Kendra Plant (C) 37-4; 3. Veronica Wiggins (T) 37-1 ÂĽ; 5. Briana Pina (C ) 34-10 Â˝.
1,500: 4. Ashley Jackson (SRA) 4:54.05.
4x200: 5. East Providence (Sierra Cunningham, Tayla Carnevale, Rachael Finn, Kaitlyn Bellamy), 1:50.42.
4x800: 6. Cumberland (Nicole Barger, Hannah Tavares, Esther Kwara, Mei-Ling Feng), 10:18.31.