New track facility could produce new state records
Saturday marked the beginning of a new era for the state’s runners, as the first indoor track meet was held at the new Providence indoor track facility. Previously, the athletes had competed at CCRI in Lincoln on a gymnasium-style floor.
“This is one of the biggest things that has happened for track athletics in Rhode Island,” boys’ head coach Charlie Breagy said. “We finally have a respectable facility, which will help Rhode Island athletes make their mark on the track and field world.”
Girls’ head coach Lindsay Post said she expects to see a lot of school and state records fall this season because of the better running surface.
“I also imagine we will see fewer injuries with the girls not running on a gym floor,” she said.
Both coaches said they feel their teams are well balanced this year. Traditionally, N.K. teams have been dominant in mid-distance and distance events, but have been sporadic in sprints and field events.
Breagy will look to Jamestowner Mike Spahr to be a big scorer for the Skippers. Spahr is the school record holder in the high jump and is also one of the top hurdlers in the state.
“Mike is one of our captains this year and he is always a threat to score in any event I put him in,” Breagy said. Spahr, although he was injured, finished in third place in the 55-meter hurdles at last year’s indoor state championship.
The Skippers’ first big test this season will come at their first dual meet against Chariho. Unfortunately, the team will have to take on the Chargers without the help of islander James Stewart, who is always a big point-getter for the Skippers in distance events.
“I know if we give it our all, we can take them. The question is, can we do it without James?” Breagy said. Stewart has been suffering from a shin injury. He is expected to return to the team, but will miss the first several meets.
Also making great strides this year is Jamestowner Jacob Wigton.
“Jacob has worked very hard this past year and his persistence has paid off,” Breagy said. Wigton looked strong in Saturday’s 1,500- meter race, winning his heat by more than 100 meters.
In the 3,000 meters, Zach Sietes- Rundlett is expected to dominate. He finished ninth at the state cross country championship in November.
Freshman Connor Downing, in the sprints and hurdles, and Luke Lis, in the distance events, round out the Jamestown presence on the team.
“I expect to score a lot of points at states if everyone stays healthy this season,” Breagy said. “We have serious scoring threats in the hurdles, dash, 300, 600 and 3,000 meters, the high jump and all three relays.”
Post takes over as head coach this year after serving as the girls’ assistant coach last year. “I feel like we have a very well-rounded group. We have quality sprinters and a lot of improvement in our throwers,” she said.
Senior Katie Lynch will anchor the Skippers distance team.
“Katie is equally matched and strong in both the 1,500 and the 3,000 meters,” Post said.
Sophomore Moira Crocker and junior Kathryn Coleman are always scoring threats in the mid-distance events. Coleman specializes in the 400 to 600 meter range and Post said Crocker has the capacity to score anywhere from the 400 to 1,500 meters. Senior Kelsey Evans is also a staple for the team in the mid-distance to distance events.
“Kelsey can go a little shorter than Katie because she has a little more speed in the mid-distance events,” Post said.
Seniors Caitlin Downing and Renee Dubuc will anchor the sprint team for the Skippers. Dubuc is the team’s top scorer in the 100-meter dash and Downing in the hurdles. Post also likes what she sees from islander Sophia Cole, a sophomore transfer student from Arizona.
Cole can also high jump and will be a welcome addition to the team’s other high jumper, Becca Sherwood.
Junior Katie Young, along with seniors Courtney Paligula and Emily King, are looking to put the N.K. weight throwers on the map.
“Katie scored a lot last year in the shot put, and this year she is working into the weight throw,” Post said.
Post said the biggest challenge for the team is practicing outdoors in sometimes less-than-perfect conditions.
“We have a lot of hard-working girls who are out there not whining and complaining, but practicing hard and doing what they are supposed to do,” Post said. “We will only build from there.”
The team will face strong competition in its division, especially from Toll Gate High School, but Post is confident the Skippers will be in the mix.
The addition of assistant coaches Jen Mariani in the sprints and Matt Crider in the field and hurdles events are a big strength for the team this year.
The girls will have their first dual meet of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m. in Providence.