CUMBERLAND — Ask any of the girls’ coaches about who would win Tuesday’s Northern Division showdown between host Cumberland High and unbeaten squads Woonsocket and Central Falls and the response was the same.
They simply didn’t have a clue.
“This is going to be a close meet,” said Woonsocket coach Dan Richard midway into the competition. “I thought before the meet, plus or minus five points between all three schools.”
“Right now, looking at the score, it can be any school,” added CHS coach Chris Fernandes, just a few minutes after Richard’s assessment. “It’s about as close a meet as I expected. It could come down to the last two events.”
After four-plus hours under a hot sun at Tucker Field, Woonsocket prevailed against its talented rivals, defeating Cumberland, 83-71, and C.F. by a deceiving 97-62 verdict.
In the closer affair against the Clippers, the turning point for the Villa Novans came in the triple jump, one of the last events of the meet. Sophomore Kaylnn Pitts led a 1-2-3 sweep with an outstanding distance of 35 feet, 5 ½ inches.
“The meet was just as we thought it would be,” said Richard, whose squad upped its league mark to 6-0. Cumberland and C.F. stand at 5-2. “I am excited about the results. We were fortunate to come out on top.”
Pitts was a big reason that the Villa Novans were able to pull out the all-important double-victory. For the afternoon, she captured four events. The defending outdoor titlist in the high jump won that event by clearing 5-2.
She also copped the long jump with a distance of 15-8½ and broke the tape in the 200-meter dash with a fast clocking of 27.1 seconds.
The most impressive performance from Pitts came in the triple jump, where she soared to one of the top distances in the state in her first year competing in the event.
At last year’s state meet, Smithfield’s Kim Ezeama won the event with a 36-8 effort.
“I think she can get into 36 (feet) this year,” Richard said. “She is just learning the event. She has the speed, the spring and the carriage for it with her long legs.”
The Villa Novans’ Jordan Lopes also had quite the afternoon. She won the 400 with a time of 64.3 and also ran the anchor leg for her team’s first-place 4x400 squad that was timed in 4:25.7. Lopes ran her split in 64.2.
“All my captains stepped up,” said Richard, while also making note of three personal best achieved by Sam Plante in the triple jump, long jump and her leg on the 4x400 squad. “That’s what you expect from captains.”
Central Falls sophomore Tiffany Jenkins earned gold in two events. Jenkins took the hammer with a throw of 131-7 and was first in the discus at 116-0.
Senior Lauren Lapierre of Cumberland claimed both distance events, placing first in the 1,500 (5:25) and the 3,000 (12:04).
In the boys’ meet, unbeaten Cumberland swept its rivals, defeating Woonsocket, 85-68, and Central Falls, 98-54.The Clippers improved to 6-0 for the season.
“We just had a lot of good performances,” said CHS coach Tom Kenwood. “Everywhere, we did well. We had some good performances in the distance events and the throws as well.”
Cumberland had just six winners among the 18 events, but its depth proved to be instrumental in the outcome. The Clippers had the top three finishers overall in three events (1,500, javelin, pole vault) and multiple placements in nine different events.
The Clippers’ Colin Cabral was a double-winner, taking the shot put with a heave of 38-4 and the javelin with a toss of 126-6.
In the 1,500, junior Matt Sutcliffe turned a close race at the half-mile mark into a runaway victory, winning with a personal-best time of 4:23.1. Sutcliffe hit the 400 checkpoint in 1:07 and was 2:17 at the 800. Later in the meet, he placed second in the 3,000 with a time of 9:57.2, an event won by sophomore teammate Trevor Crawley in 9:50.3.
“It’s a PR by about a second and a half,” said Sutcliffe, referring to his 1,500 time. “I knew I was running the 3,000 so I was using it more as a workout, but my coach wanted me to really focus on running a good time for the 1,500.”
Sutcliffe held a few-stride lead over teammate and eventual second-place finisher Alec Bassett (4:29.5) at the 800. He took command from that point and had a roughly four-second cushion at 1,200 (3:29).
“After the 1,200 I lost a few seconds,” he said. “I think if someone would have been near me, it would have helped.”
Cumberland’s Chris Daurte claimed the individual title in the 110 hurdles with a solid time of 16.3. The Clippers’ Jack Covino won the hammer convincingly with a toss of 151-2. Teammate Brian Hamann was second at 143-11.
The Villa Novans had multiple-winning performances from Jalen Evans and Jessie Charette. The tandem both ran legs on the school’s victorious 4x100 relay squad (44.6), which also included Alex Correia and Tyler Bourk. Evans also took the 100 at 11.6 and the 200 in 23.5, while Charette placed first in the triple jump with a leap of 43-10 and the long jump at 20- ½. Charette also finished second to Central Falls junior Steven Vazquez in the high jump with a height of 6-0.
Vazquez won his specialty with a leap of 6-2 and also blazed to a time of 53.8 to capture the 400.