Tolman High's Juan Wilson, left, hopes to do well in the division meet next week and the state indoor track championship meet on Feb. 19.
The dual-meet season for R.I. boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ indoor track will officially wrap up by Tuesday of next week, barring another snowstorm (or two?).
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Thatâ€™s just the warm-up.
Beginning late next week, teams will be duking it out at the Providence Athletic Facility in their respective divisional championships. A week later, theyâ€™re back on the oval in their class meets and then on Saturday, Feb. 19, schools statewide will compete on the big stage in the annual state championships.
For our local athletes and teams, a lot can happen in those next few weeks.
Even though it finished the season with a perfect 8-0 record, the Cumberland boys will be tested heavily when they aim for their 11th consecutive team crown at the Northern Division Championships on Feb. 5 at 4:15 p.m. Woonsocket and Lincoln appear to be the biggest threats, despite dropping convincing setbacks to the Clippers this season.
With the multiple teams competing in the divisional meet, the points will be distributed more evenly. Based on performances this season, Lincoln and Cumberland look as though theyâ€™ll be battling for most of the points in the middle and long-distance events with Mount St. Charles also gaining a few with their talented athletes. Woonsocket could do damage with its strong sprinting core.
Individually, there are a few athletes that should make some noise in the meet. Sheaâ€™s Fred Gobewole, the stateâ€™s top sprinter for the 55-meter dash, will be looking to gain some increased confidence for the upcoming states. Gobewole will match up against a talented field in the 55 and the 300 with quality sprinters such as Tolmanâ€™s Ousmane Samb and Juan Wilson and Woonsocketâ€™s Jalen Evans and Jessie Charette to name a few.
Cumberlandâ€™s Chris Duarte will be attempting to lower his time in the 55 hurdles. In last weekâ€™s dual meet with Lincoln and Mount St. Charles, the talented senior had another decisive win this winter with his personal-best time of 7.8 seconds. He not only cracked the eight-second barrier, but lowered his PB by two-tenths of a second.
Duarteâ€™s time is currently No. 2 among the stateâ€™s elite. Classicalâ€™s Jerrell Forbes owns the fastest time this year at 7.7.
Last year, Duarte qualified for the state championship, but did not place. He has a good chance to finish high on the list and possible bring home the Clippers third state hurdle champion. Dave Gavlich earned the crown (for the 50-yard hurdles) in 1977 and Ryan Gauvin claimed the 2008 title.
â€śHe started as a sophomore and last year he blossomed during the season from our fifth best to our top hurdler,â€ť said CHS head coach Tom Kenwood. â€śHeâ€™s improved his technique a lot.â€ť
During a two-day period prior to the Northern Division meet, all the stateâ€™s girlsâ€™ squads will be competing in their divisional meets.
On Feb. 2, Cumberland will be the lone area team in the competitive Headley Division Championship. The Clippers (4-2), who finish up their dual-meet season on Monday against Bay View and Barrington, will face the likes of four-time defending state titlist La Salle Academy (7-1) and undefeated Classical (8-0) in the 5:30 p.m. meet. Also on that night at 5:30 will be the Sullivan Division Championship with Central Falls and Shea among our local contingent. The Warriorsâ€™ Aleide Fernandes will be looking to further her state-leading throws in the 20-pound weight (53 feet, 4 Â˝ inches) and the shot put (37-8) at the meet.
C.F. will end its dual meet season on Monday against Moses Brown and Rogers. A sweep in that meet will give the Warriors a 6-2 record, their best mark in school history. More importantly, It should also give them plenty of confidence in their divisional showdown.
The Bayha and Dwyer divisional meets will take place on the following night, Feb. 3 at 5:30.Lincoln and Mount. St. Charles will be among the nine schools in Bayha and Woonsocket, East Providence, Ponaganset, St. Raphael and Tolman represent Dwyer.
A down-to-the-wire affair will more than likely occur in the high jump in the Dwyer Division meet with Woonsocketâ€™s Kaylnn Pitts, the 2010 outdoor state champion, and Ponagansetâ€™s Cate Dominick, a second-place finisher last spring. Both are tied for No. 2 in the state with season-best of 5-1.
The boysâ€™ class meets will start on Feb. 10 with the Class B Championship on Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. and the Class C and Class A meets on Feb. 11 at 5 and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
Woonsocket, East Providence and Cumberland compete in Class A, Lincoln and Tolman in Class B and Shea, Central Falls and Mount St. Charles in Class C.
All the girlsâ€™ class meets will be run on Feb. 12, starting with the Large Schools at 12 noon, the Medium Schools at 2 p.m. and the Small Schools at 4 p.m.
A host of local teams will be in the field in the Small School meet, including Lincoln, Shea, St. Raphael, Central Falls, Mount St. Charles and Ponaganset. Cumberland, East Providence, Woonsocket and Tolman compete in the Large School meet. There are no area squads in the Medium School meet.
Athletes will have to wake up bright and early for the state championships that start at 10 a.m. For several area standouts, the limited winks may be worth it when a gold medal is wrapped around their necks.