Running into the record books: Islander cements his legacy
It seems that there are two kinds of stories involving Jamestowners and Bishop Hendricken High School: Islanders who were on the losing end of a state championship game to the Hendricken Hawks, or Islanders who won a title with the Warwick school.
Andy Sakovits is a Hawk. “We’ve won 17 consecutive indoor track titles,” Sakovits said proudly.
Sakovits posted some impressive numbers during his indoor season. In the 600-meter run, Sakovits finished first in his class, first in his division and second in the state.
At season’s end, he ranked second in the state in the event, and was on the team that ranked first in the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relays in Rhode Island. He also ran the fastest leg for his team in both events at each meet.
“I surprised myself just as much as I surprised my coaches,” Sakovits said. “Throughout my career I have been injured quite a bit, just from growing, problems with the knees, shins and feet because it is such a taxing sport on the body. Growing goes against that.”
Undefeated in the regular season, the Hawks moved on to the state meet on Feb. 19 where they were underdogs to La Salle and Chariho. Sakovits, a senior captain, said that the team “picked up all the points that they could” where they least expected to do so.
“In the back of our heads,” he said, “we wanted the state record.” Hendricken posted number 17. The Hawks accumulated 74 points – rival La Salle finished second, 23 points behind.
After winning the relay at the state championships with a time of 3:27.97, the 4x400 relay team of Sakovits, Alex Perreault, Ryan Brannigan and John Ferris competed at the New England Championships at the beginning of March. They smashed their time from the state meet at the regional finals by two seconds with a time of 3:26.00. They finished second.
The national championships were next. They were held on March 11 in the New York Armory. It was there that the backof the-mind goal of the relay team was achieved. Hendricken’s 4x400 relay squad broke the Rhode Island record with a time of 3:24.12, nearly two seconds better than their regional time and almost four seconds faster than their state time.
They placed 12th overall and beat New England rivals Staples High School from West Hartford, Conn. Staples had bested Hendricken’s 4x400 relay team twice before: Once at the Yale Invitational and again at the New England Championships.
“A whole different mind set” and a lot of parental support are two reasons that Sakovits gives for the dramatic improvement he has made. He moved from sixth in the state to second in the 600-meter run in just one year.
“The past cross-country season there was a lot of leadership and dedication,” said Sakovits, stating another reason for his motivation to improve. He added that there was “a lot of drive in the team through a few kids.”
“They went off to nationals and they were 10th in the nation and they made history,” he said. “I looked at that and I said, ‘Wow, they really took advantage of their senior year and made the best of it.’ I wanted to do the same.”
The track to greatness was not without its hurdles; Sakovits ran junior varsity races his first two years and at longer distances. But a watershed moment occurred for Sakovits when he was a sophomore.
His coach, Jim Doyle, challenged him to run the 600 meters in less that 1:33, promising that if Sakovits were successful he would never be placed in a junior varsity race again.
He ran a 1:31, and has been on the varsity squad since.
Running has been a family affair for the Sakovits. Sakovits’ brother Alex preceded him at Hendricken, and before that his mother Suzanne was a sprinter at the University of New Hampshire. Also, his grandfather was a “very competitive sprinter” at the University of Rhode Island, having run in such prestigious events as the Melrose Games held at the New York Armory, where Sakovits and his relay team broke the state record.
Training for the spring track season has begun in earnest and Sakovits is looking forward to making the most of this last opportunity to bring home another track championship to Hendricken. He looks to lessen the training mileage as the season approaches and his goal is to best his time of 1:55 in the 800 meters and his time of 48.9 in the 400-meter sprint.
Sakovits was born in Newport and moved to East Passage in Jamestown when he was just a year old. He attended Melrose and Lawn Avenue Schools and following graduation, he enrolled in Hendricken.
As a senior, Andy is looking at Northeastern University and Providence College as his top college choices. Both schools have recruited him. He said that he has also been recruited by URI, Stonehill College, Assumption College and New York University.
Sakovits is not at all shy about his love and appreciation for his soon to be alma mater.
“I’ve loved it there,” he said, “It is the people, just the overall feeling you get, kind of like family.”
Sakovits explained that he has met few students or faculty that he hasn’t liked or gotten along with. He said the teachers are there because they want the students to learn. “You know that the teachers at Hendricken are there because they want to be there,” he said. “They are in it for the legacy of Hendricken.”
Sakovits has done his part as well to ensure the Hawks’ legacy.