PROVIDENCE â€“ The first major meet of the indoor track season was minus one of its fastest runners on Saturday.
Hanging out with his teammates outside the track surface at the Providence Career and Technical Academy field house was Woonsocket High junior Jalen Evans. After competing earlier this week in his first meet since a season-ending foot injury at the start of the football season, Evans was back in street clothes after a minor setback.
After a few months of rehab for his broken left ankle suffered in a scrimmage game against Johnston in late August, the speedy Novan appeared to be completely healed. In a league-opening dual meet with Mount St. Charles Academy and Central Falls this past Monday, Evans won two events by capturing the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.7 seconds and the 300 with a 37.4 clocking, a time just short of his own school record.
But soreness came back the day after the meet and a lump developed in his opposite leg. He was informed by his physical therapist on Friday afternoon that he needed to take some more time off.
â€śMy ankle is feeling okay,â€ť he said. â€śI just need to get it stronger. (My doctor) said within this month I should be competing at full strength. If not, maybe another month.â€ť
The fact that Evans was able to compete this past week and will more than likely have a full recovery by January is a big step for the Novan standout, a sixth-place finisher in the 300 at the state meet last year as a tenth-grader in his inaugural season of track & field.
When the school year began back in the fall, Evans was looking to help his teammates on the gridiron. But the Villa Novans' top running back didn't even get a chance to play in a regular-season game when he broke his ankle after he was tackled on a play during the scrimmage game against the Panthers. At first, he didn't realize it was serious. He walked off the field without assistance.
â€śI thought it was going to be a regular injury, maybe a month or a couple of weeks off,â€ť he recalled. â€śAfter that, when I still couldn't run on my feet I knew it was more serious than that. The next day it was stiff. It wouldn't move.
â€śI thought I would miss football,â€ť he continued. â€śI cried at one point. I saw my team. I wanted to help out. I wanted to come back. I just couldn't.â€ť
Rehab went well for Evans and he was able to jog for the first time last month.
â€śI could do exercises with my ankle. It started to feel better. I could kind of sprint,â€ť he said. â€śRight now, I just need to make it stronger. I need it to heal a little better.â€ť
Evans has confidence he'll be back in time to get some quality races before this year's indoor states in mid-February. The dual meet this past week was an encouraging sign.
â€śI was very happy because I could run full speed, kind of sort of,â€ť he said. â€śI saw my time. It wasn't that fast but I knew I was making progress. The strength was okay. I think with a little rest, it's going to get better.â€ť
The six-plus hour meet featured a few outstanding performances by area athletes.
Cumberland junior Trevor Crawley held off a strong group of Bishop Hendricken runners to take the 3,000 with a quick, early-season time of 9:04.2. Crawley held the lead for most of the 15-lap race and withstood a few stiff challenges from Hendricken freshman Michael Potter.
The talented Clipper, who now owns the fastest time in the state, felt having the Hawk runners pushing him the entire distance aided in his near, sub-nine minute effort. Hendricken sophomore Colin Tierney was second in 9:05.6. He was followed by Potter at 9:05.9.
â€śThey helped me a lot because I knew they wanted to beat me and I did not want them to beat me,â€ť he said.
Crawley, who was 4:30 at the 1,500 mark, was passed three times by Potter in the late stages. He retook the lead for good with 300 meters left. He ran his final 200 in 31.3.
â€śI felt fairly good and didn't think anybody could beat me,â€ť said Crawley, about his final surge. â€śUsually my kick isn't that fast. I have been working on it the last few days. I know it will help me in the state meet.â€ť
Woonsocket junior Kaylnn Pitts claimed the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches. The multiple all-stater, who earned an individual outdoor title as a ninth-grader, was a little disappointed that defending state champion Dakota Dailey-Harris of La Salle Academy was a no-show.
Pitts finished as a runner-up to the Ramsâ€™ junior at both the indoor and outdoor state meet last year with a personal best of 5-7.
â€śShe usually pushes me,â€ť she said. â€śShe makes me better.â€ť
Pitts cleared her opening height of five feet on her second attempt and made 5-2 on her initial leap. She nearly made 5-4 on her second jump.
â€śSomething must have hit it because I was right over it,â€ť she said. â€śI think I grazed it with my hand a little and the bar ended up falling.â€ť
Lincoln junior Aaron Roseman, who missed all of last year with an ankle injury, copped the 55 dash with a school-record of 6.4. Roseman ran the same time in winning his preliminary heat.
â€śI am working twice as hard to make up for that lost time,â€ť said the Lion sprinter. â€śI am hoping to set some records.â€ť
Roseman got a strong start out of the blocks, but didnâ€™t grab the lead for good until the final 10 meters.
â€śI thought I was behind in my start,â€ť he said. â€śDuring the end, I made up for that start by accelerating and pumping my arms more and it worked out.â€ť