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PROVIDENCE â€” Freddy Gobewole has had problems with his shoulder since his junior campaign last year when he tore his rotator cuff during a scrimmage game for the Shea High football team.
But that hasnâ€™t stopped the talented senior from tearing up the track with his unmatched speed.
With the indoor track & field season just a month away from the state meet, Gobewole has solidifying his spot as the runner to beat in the 55-meter dash. Presently, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound sprinter ranks No. 1 statewide with his best of 6.3 seconds. Heâ€™s a tenth of a second ahead of Moses Brownâ€™s Josh Gilkinson and another tick in front of at least five more runners.
Gobewole was teetering back and forth on whether he should compete in track with his ongoing shoulder problem, an ailment that forced the all-division running back to miss several games for the Shea gridders this past fall.
The decision to hold off surgery wasnâ€™t an easy one considering his future in the sport at the collegiate level.
â€śComing into this year off of my football season, I didnâ€™t know if I was doing indoor or not,â€ť he said. â€śI thought I might have to go to surgery so I could stay healthy for college. I decided to hold that off so that I could do indoor. I knew I could go out and (do well) in this sport and this event. I have been practicing 100 percent and so far all of my meets have been first place.â€ť
Competing for roughly a month of the season due to his injury, Gobewole turned some heads last year by placing third at the states in the 55 dash behind individual winner and nationally-ranked Kadeem Kushimo of La Salle Academy and runner-up Mike Read of Barrington. He captured his specialty in the Northern Division and Class C championship meets.
â€śI didnâ€™t see myself as that strong in track until mid-year because I missed most of the season because of my injury. I did the division and class (meets) and the states and ever since then I have been working hard,â€ť said Gobewole, who was also a third-place finisher in the 100 meters at the outdoor state meet. â€śThat motivated me to keep doing better. I was behind Kadeem and Read, some big names, but I still felt I could beat them.â€ť
In a tri-meet with Tolman and Lincoln Monday afternoon at the Providence Athletic Facility, Gobewole matched his personal-best of 6.3 by unleashing a blazing spurt by the midway point of the race. Tolman junior Homlin Taylor was second at 6.6 and the Tigersâ€™ Ousmane Samb, another star football player from the Blackstone Valley area, was third with a time of 6.7.
Just about an hour after winning the dash, Gobewole held off Samb in the 300 with a PB of 37.2, a time that ranks among the top six in the state. Samb was second at 37.7.
For Gobewole, the primary focus is on winning the 55 dash at the Feb. 19 state meet.
â€śI definitely have been working hard coming off Kadeem and Read last year. I wasnâ€™t strong enough in my events last year,â€ť Gobewole admitted. â€śMy goal is to try and get 6.1, what Kadeem hit. I know I can get stronger out of the blocks, which have I have been doing lately. But thatâ€™s definitely my goal - to run 6.1 on this track.â€ť
A meet that both opposing coaches felt would be close was a done deal after about six events as Cumberland remained perfect in the Northern Division with a 63-43 win over Woonsocket on Monday. The two teams handily beat Ponaganset in the tri-meet.
Clipper coach Tom Kenwood, whose team improved to 6-0 for the season, felt the potential nail-biter changed dramatically in the two weight events (shot put, 25-pound weight). In the events, Cumberland collected 13 of the 18 possible points.
The Clippers figured to collect a considerable amount of points in the middle to long distance events, the Villa Novansâ€™ weak spot. Woonsocketâ€™s strengths are in the other events, including the weights.
Mike Spearan led a sweep in the 25-pound weight with his toss of 46 feet, 7 inches.
â€śWhen we went 1-2-3 in the weights, I thought that was it,â€ť Kenwood said. â€śBut the division meet, it should be a close one. It could go either way.â€ť
Among several key athletes, Woonsocket was without its top thrower, Aaron Harmon, who was hospitalized with a back injury in a weight-lifting mishap at his home.
â€śOn paper, he should have won the weight and got first or second in the shot put,â€ť Woonsocket coach George Briggs said. â€śWe had a 38-foot shot-putter, Danny Cullen, his grandmother died and the funeral is right now, so he wasnâ€™t here. To beat a good team like Cumberland, you have to have all your bodies. We were missing just too many people today. Our top hurdler was a no-show. Our 600 runner was a no-show. It happens. You have to go with who you have. We expected a tight meet. Tom (Kenwood) said it should come down to the 4x400 (relay, the final event). The Northern Division Championship should be interesting. I think between Lincoln (6-0), Cumberland and Woonsocket (5-1) itâ€™s going to be close. The points are going to be spread out.â€ť
Cumberland copped eight events in the meet, including a double-winning effort from sophomore Trevor Crawley in the 3,000â€“ and 1,000-meter runs. Crawley clocked a time of 9 minutes, 30.3 seconds for the longer distance and was timed in 3:01.7 for the shorter race.
The Clippersâ€™ Chris Duarte matched his best in the 55 hurdles with his time of 8.0. That time ranks him No. 3 in the state.
â€śMy coach has been emphasizing that I should be working on my starts and I have noticed that it has been slowing me down a little bit,â€ť Duarte said. â€śBut I am working on it and having a little confidence for the rest of the season. I think Iâ€™ll eventually break 8.0.â€ť
Cumberland also got some crucial points from junior Ryan Rei, who won the long jump with a PB of 19-10 Â˝ and was second in the high jump at 5-8. Reiâ€™s teammate, Patrick Kavanaugh, was third in the vertical leap, also at 5-8.
â€śHe made a difference,â€ť said Kenwood, about Rei. â€śI figured Woonsocket to get one-two in the long jump. The high jump, they got first (with Anthony Neal clearing 5-8 on fewer misses), but we got second and third and I thought we might just get third.â€ť
Woonsocket senior Jessie Charette, who was participating in his first-ever meet on the indoor surface after leaving the basketball team a few weeks ago, was third in the 55 dash at 6.7 and third in the 300 at 38.9.
Jalen Evans, who starred with Charette on the schoolâ€™s state champion football team this past fall, won both events with times of 6.7 (55) and 37.9 (300).
Lincoln remained perfect on the season by easily sweeping its meet with Tolman and Shea. The Lions, now 6-0, defeated the Tigers, 87 Â˝-20 Â˝ and the Raiders, 82-26.
Aaron Brunelle was one of several Lions that snared a victory by taking the 1,500 with a time of 4:38.2. He also won the 1,000 at 2:55.5.
Brunelle, a senior, who coasted to the win, ranks among the top 10 in the metric mile with his best of 4:18.6.
In its meet with Mount St. Charles and St. Raphael Academy on Monday, Central Falls continued its successful campaign this winter by sweeping its league foes to improve to 4-2 for the season. Despite the absence of all-state high jumper Steven Vazquez, the Warriors managed to squeak out a narrow 53-52 win over the Mounties (4-2). C.F. defeated Saints, 74-22.
Cumberland 63, Woonsocket 43
Woonsocket 79, Ponaganset 19
Cumberland 92, Ponaganset 12
Top local finishers
4x200 â€“ 1. Woonsocket, 1:36.9.
3,000 â€“ 1. Trevor Crawley, C, 9:30.3.
55HH â€“ 1. Chris Duarte, C, 8.0; 2. Andrew Arone, C, 9.0
Shot â€“ Juan Rivera, W, 38-6 Âľ; 2. Colin Cabral, C, 38-4; 3. Jordan Gaudette, C, 36-10 Âľ.
LJ â€“ 1. Ryan Rei, C, 19-10 Â˝; 2. Alex Correia, W, 19-7; 3. Bryan Guilbert, W, 19-1/2.
HJ â€“ 1. Anthony Neal, W, 5-8; 2. Rei, C, 5-8; 3. Patrick Kavanaugh, C, 5-8.
55 â€“ 1. Jalen Evans, W, 6.7; 2. Butch Giguere, P, 6.7; 3. Jessie Charette, W, 6.7.
WGT â€“ 1. Mike Spearen, C, 46-7; 2. Brian Hamann, C, 46-3; 3. Joe Covino, C, 45-4.
1,500 â€“ 1. Alex Bassett, C, 4:31.0; 2. Tom Fownes, C, 4:31.4; 3. Bryan Kuchar, C, 5:01.1.
600 â€“ 1. Matt Sutcliffe, C, 1:32.0; 2. Matt Spavold, C, 1:33.4; 3. Brian Salemi, C, 1:37.8.
300 â€“ 1. Evans, W, 37.9; 2. Neal, W, 38.8; 3. Charette, W, 38.9.
1,000 â€“ 1. Crawley, C, 3:01.7; 2. Bassett, C, 3:02.9; 3. Kuchar, C, 3:05.5.
4x400 â€“ 1. Woonsocket, 3:58.3.