Skippers beat Hendricken to capture state title
Charlie Breagy, coach of the North Kingstown boys' track team, did not mince words when he explained to his 4 x 400 relay team what results they needed to dethrone Bishop Hendricken as the reigning state champions.
"I told them it was simple, finish in fourth place, you lose, finish in third place, you win," Breagy said. "I knew they would give 100 percent, so my only advice was to tell them they had one more lap around the track and to dig deep."
Hendricken had a nine-year stranglehold on the state title, but in less than 50 meters, the Skippers ended the Hawks reign and put an exclamation point on an exciting season.
North Kingstown led Hendricken, 72-67, after 18 events and needed a third place or better finish to take the state title.
Islander Nate Wigton, Andrew Buresh and Billy Zile had placed second in the 4 x 800 meter relay to start the day, and Wigton and Zile placed third and fourth respectively in the 800 meters. The fourth team member, Kevin Alexander, had second place finishes in both the 110-and 300-meter hurdles.
"We were tired out going into the 4 x 400, but we just buckled down and gave it everything we had," Wigton said. "The entire stadium was on its feet cheering for us. It was very exciting."
Alexander ran the leadoff leg and by the time he handed the baton off to Buresh, the Skippers were in second place. Wigton took off with North Kingstown in third place and handed off to Zile in fourth place.
"Kevin is fast out of the blocks because he does hurdles, so he ran the lead leg. Nate was supposed to run anchor, but we knew he was tired from the 800 and Billy had passed two guys in the straightaway in his last race, so we switched them," Breagy said.
With 100 meters to go, Zile was still in fourth place and Breagy admitted he thought North's chances for winning were over.
"He just wouldn't give up and with about 50 meters remaining, he passed the guy in third place and I knew we had it," Breagy said. "Even with that he would not quit, he just kept coming and about two or three yards before the finish he passed the runner from Hope to take second place and break a school 4 x 400 record in the process."
Hendricken won the relay, but the Skippers eight points were enough to give them the 80-77 win and the title.
"The amazing thing is that track is really 19 different sports, so to go against Hendricken 19 different times and come out the winner is just incredible," Breagy said.
"To finally do it, to pull off a state championship against Hendricken, I never thought it was possible. It was fantastic," Wigton said. "It is almost like my life is complete."
Wigton, who was a member of the boys' cross country state championship team this past fall, will now have his choice of championship jackets to wear.
The win was truly a team effort for the Skippers, who did not win any event but had seven secondplace finishes.
"We were really focused on the team," Wigton said. "There was no superstar to carry us, everybody had to do their part to get it done and it makes the win that much more important." Also posting second place finishes were, Teddy Coppa in pole vault and Tim Daly in the hammer throw.
"Everywhere we had to take care of business, we did," Breagy said. "The strength of this team is its depth and everyone stepped up the one time when it really counted."
Breagy also points out the coaching was a team effort, as well.
"A lot of people put in a lot of effort to make this happen. Coaches Chabot, O'Neil, Tetreault, Kells, and Logan, along with John Kelly with the pole vaulters really were instrumental in helping us to win the title," Breagy concluded.
The team's focus has now shifted to the New England Championships on Saturday.
"Our goal is to have fun and break a state record," Wigton con-