Boys prepare for states
The boys on the North Kingstown outdoor track team won the state crown two years ago, but the indoor track championship has eluded the team so far.
Jamestown’s Ben Stewart is hoping to change that situation this Saturday when the Skippers compete in the state meet at noon at the Providence Career and Technical Center on 41 Fricker St.
“We’ve never won an indoor state championship,” he said, “so we’re trying to win.”
As an added incentive, head coach Charlie Breagy is retiring at the end of the school year. This is the Skippers last chance to bring home the trophy for their coach.
“It would be a treat if the people come up to Providence to support the team,” said Breagy. “It’s the hardest title to win. We have to compete with the likes of Hendricken, and not just in one sport, but in over 13 events.”
Stewart, a senior, is competing in four events: the 55-meter hurdles, the 300-meter run, the 600-meter run, and the 4x200-meter relay. Breagy said Ben is favored to win the 55-meter hurdles.
Teammate Zach Emrich is seeded first in two events, and the Skippers are the top seed in both the 4x400- and 4x800-meter relays.
One other runner is from Jamestown: Sophomore Nicholas Musumeci is an alternate on the favored 4x800 team. Ben Lee will also represent the island at the state championship.
In the 55-meter hurdles, Stewart’s personal best is 8:02, meaning he clears the five hurdles over 55 meters in just eight seconds and a fraction. His goal on Saturday is to become the state champ and cut his time below the eight-second mark. The state record is 7.41 seconds set by Hope High’s Yudehweh Gbaa in 2004.
Stewart plans to run track in college and has applied only to schools with track teams. He said it would be awkward not to be part of a squad.
“It wouldn’t feel right,” he said.
He’s been accepted at a few places so far, including the University of Rhode Island. However, he has not yet made a decision.
“I’m still trying to narrow it down,” he said. Stewart is waiting for an acceptance letter from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Two of Stewart’s teammates, senior Tyler Levesque and junior Ethan Bowe, also qualified for the event’s preliminary race. Levesque is ranked ninth, and his qualifying time was 8.18 seconds. Bowe is seeded 24th with a time of 8.84 seconds.
Zach Emrich is the top seed in 300-meter dash. He is also seeded first, with a time of 1:23.70, in the 600-meter run.
“He is the state record holder for the 600-meter run,” said Breagy. “He’s among the top six in the country, but he hasn’t traveled around to invitationals. He’s stayed with the team. His goal is for the team to win the states. He’s a very intelligent runner. He knows how to handle the race, and he has a finishing kick. He won’t be touched. We’re asking him to do a very difficult double: the 300-meter dash and 600-meter run. They’re almost back to back.”
Stewart is seeded fifth in the 300-meter run, and third in the 600-meter event. His qualifying times are 36.99 and 1:25.50, respectively.
Joseph Craven, of North Kingstown, is the fourth seed in the 600-meter run. His qualifying time is 1:25.70. Joseph is also the second seed in the 1,000-meter run, and another Skipper, Ian Connors, a junior, is the fourth seed.
In the 1,500-meter run, the Skippers are sending senior Dallin Smith. He is seeded ninth in a field of 22 runners.
Jonathan Carney, a senior, will run the 3,000-meter event. He is seeded 16th.
In the 4x200-meter relay, Stewart will be the anchor, joined by Emrich, Levesque and senior Jose Gibayeaux. Junior Austin Degregory and sophomore Nathan Campbell are alternates on the foursome that is seeded third behind Central and Classical.
In the 4x400, Emrich, Craven, Smith and junior Benjamin Sawyer are the top-seeded team. Alternates are Gibayeaux and Degregory. The Skippers are also the top seed in the 4x800-meter relay. The runners are Connors, Craven, Smith and Sawyer.
Benjamin Lee, a senior, is seeded fifth in the high jump. Teammates Kyle Sayre and Nicholas Barzaghi, both seniors, also qualified. Sayre is seeded eighth and Barzaghi is the 14th seed.
Fifth-seeded Rees Tillotson, a senior, qualified to compete in the long jump.
The Skippers also have two contenders in the weight throw. Sophomore Jason Flanagan and senior David Collins III will participate. They are seeded eighth and 18th, respectively.
A Skipper has qualified in every event except the shot put and 3,000-meter run. “This is the most talented team I have ever worked with,” said Breagy.
North Kingstown finished the regular season undefeated and won the Southern Division title.
“It was a very successful season,” Stewart said.
He did not run the 55-meter at the class meet two weeks ago. He did, however, participate in the 300-meter run in an effort to improve his time.
Breagy has said in the past he doesn’t send his top runners to the class meet unless they need to qualify or improve their seeding.
Stewart figures La Salle and Bishop Hendricken will be the toughest teams to beat. He’s not paying too much attention to the rankings and predictions, though. The Skippers have overcome adversity before, he said, including the weather. The bigger schools have indoor tracks on their campuses, while North Kingstown’s runners have to go on the outdoor track or practice in the school hallways.
“They can do hurdling, high jump and long jump every day,” said Breagy. “It is unfair.”
The coach said there are three or four favorites, echoing Stewart’s concerns. He thinks, however, the Skippers have a fighter’s change.
“We’re in the running. If things go well Saturday, we could win.”