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CALL/TIMES ALL-AREA BOYS TRACK CO-MVPs: Woonsocket's Robinson-O'Hagan, St. Raphael's Kipyego among nation's best

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Kipyego

Woonsocket senior Tarik Robinson O’Hagan and St. Raphael graduate Darius Kipyego, pictured above, entered high school with dreams of playing college football, but both gave up the sport and became two of the best track and field athletes in the country.

At first blush, it would appear that St. Raphael’s Darius Kipyego and Woonsocket High’s Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan have nothing in common. Kipyego is an All-American middle-distance runner. Robinson-O’Hagan has distinguished himself as one of the top throwers in the entire country.

Upon closer inspection, both have a similar tale to tell. Both put away the helmet and shoulder pads for good in favor of fully concentrating on scaling as many heights as humanly possible within the world of track & field. Both would be the first to acknowledge the decision to not play football has paid off.

Fast forwarding to the spring 2021 season, Kipyego and Robinson-O’Hagan made enough noise that you couldn’t select one over the other for MVP of the Call/Times All-Area Boys Outdoor Track Team.

In this case, Co-MVP has a nice ring to it. There was enough supporting evidence to arrive at the conclusion that Kipyego and Robinson-O’Hagan should share said honor.

Let’s start with Kipyego, the 2021 graduate who’ll be continuing his track career at Iowa State. Within the R.I. high school track fraternity, Kipyego ended the 2020-21 school year with the best times in the 400 (49.83 seconds – Class C outdoor meet), 800 (1:51.71 – Platinum PT Qualifier), and 1,500 (3:54.74 – Hendricken Invitational). At last month’s state meet, he added to his expansive collection of individual success with first place in the 800-meter race (1:54.04).

To top everything off, Kipyego was named Gatorade Rhode Island Boys Track and Field Player of the Year for the second straight season.

Not too shabby for someone who once had visions of scoring touchdowns.

“I had been playing football since I was four years old, but I also trusted [SRA track/cross-country head coach Chris Magill] as far as what else I could do,” said Kipyego. “No one can predict the future, but the hope was to become a state champion by my senior year. Luckily, I’ve been able to do a lot more than that.

“I’m blessed,” he added. “It’s been a long journey but also a fun one.”

From a team standpoint, Kipyego didn’t mince words when asked to reflect on the Class C Championship that St. Raphael captured on June 12. The Saints racked up 126 points with Kipyego helping the cause with first-place points in the 400 (49.83 seconds) and second-place points in the 1,500 (4:23.04). Not to be outdone, Kipyego was a key force in a pair of relay events that merited Call/Times All-Area inclusion.

“Track is big for the individual but it’s also a team game,” said Kipyego. “Winning [the Class C meet] is something I’ll never forget. We viewed that meet as our state championship. It ranks up there.”

Shifting the spotlight onto Robinson-O’Hagan, his junior season for the Novans proved to be one for the books. He earned double gold status at the state meet by capturing the shot put with a meet-record throw of 64 feet, 10¼ inches and the discus with a 170-foot throw. He also placed third in the hammer (222-2).

At the Class A meet, Robinson-O’Hagan walked away with top honors in the discus (162-3) and shot put (62-7¼). On June 19, he established a state record in the shot put for the third time during the spring season at the National Throws Festival at Ohio’s Spire Institute. His throw of 67 feet, 9 3/4 inches vaulted him into the second spot in the national rankings.

“I’m happy with my season. I was able to reach all my expectations,” said Robinson-O’Hagan, who won’t be playing football for the Villa Novans this fall after playing a key role during the back-to-back Super Bowl-winning seasons of 2018 and 2019.

In terms of college recruiting, Robinson-O’Hagan has already heard from several Power Five schools. Naturally, he’s looking forward to finalizing the five in-person official visits he’s allotted to take.

“I’m real picky. To have those visits, it would be hard for me to pick a school if I didn’t have them,” said Robinson-O’Hagan.

***

Kipyego and Robinson-O’Hagan proved to be a cut above the rest, yet when pouring over the possibilities for All-Area inclusion, the final tabulation resembled a small yet powerful fraternity.

Cutting to the chase, what was compiled was lengthy list of recipients. Strap in and enjoy reading about the accomplishments of the members of this star-studded group that makes up the Call/Times Boys Outdoor Track & Field team.

Aiden Beauchemin, senior

North Smithfield High School

Became the third individual in school history to win an individual state title when he took the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.19 seconds. Beauchemin also placed fourth in the javelin with a throw of 160 feet, 10 inches as the Northmen took third place at the state meet with 42 points.

Logan Coles, senior

Woonsocket High School

The University of Kentucky-bound Coles accounted for 12 points at the state meet by placing second in the hammer (224 feet, one inch) and fourth in the shot put (50-3¼). Won the hammer at the Northern Division meet with a throw of 229-5.

Henry Dennen, junior

Cumberland High School

Turned in a fourth-place time of 8:46.30 in the 3,000 at the state meet. Finished first in the same running discipline at the Northern Division Championship (9:22.03).

Alex DeStafano, junior

Cumberland High School

Went from placing third in the pole vault at the Class A meet (10 feet, six inches) to achieving second in the same event at states (11-6). Was tops in the pole vault at the Northern Division meet (11 feet even).

Ray Marsella, junior

North Smithfield High School

Delivered points for the Northmen at the state meet with his second-place showing in the 110 hurdles (15.24 seconds). Also earned runner-up status in the same event at the Class C meet (16.11 seconds).

Ryan McPeak, junior

Lincoln High School

Was the runner-up at the state meet in the discus (157 feet, 3inches). At the Class B meet, McPeak captured the same event with a throw of 146-11 and also placed second in the shot put (43-2).

Owen Molis, senior

Cumberland High School

His performance at the Class A meet proved memorable as the Bryant University-bound Molis started out strong en route to capturing the 800 in a school-record time of 1:56.50.

At states, he clocked in at 1:57.65 to take third in the same discipline.

Ryan Slaney, senior

Mount St. Charles

Capturing the 3,000 at the Class C meet by a 47-second margin behind a time of 8:51.11. The Bryant University-bound Slaney achieved a school-record in the same event at the state meet where he placed fifth (8:47.32).

Matthew Stamatelatos, junior

North Smithfield High School

Went from making his mark at the Class C meet with victories in the 110 hurdles (15.68 seconds) and 300 hurdles (43.22 seconds) to claiming state meet honors in the 300 hurdles (41.03 seconds). Also placed third in the statewide version of the 110 hurdles (15.49 seconds).

Cumberland 4x400 relay

Jeb Gibson, junior; Jorge Rocha, senior; Ethan Carpenter, junior; Owen Molis, senior

Produced a time 3:32.09 to claim first at the Class A meet and then went even lower at 3:30.08 to place fourth at states.

St. Raphael 4x400 relay & 4x800 relay

Jack Pereira, junior; Pedro Mayol, sophomore; Devan Kipyego, sophomore; Darius Kipyego, senior

It was a banner state meet for a quartet that produced a winning time of 8:01.87 to claim the 4x800 and finished third in the 4x400 (3:29.06). Came in second in the 4x400 at the Class C meet (3:36.48).

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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