PROVIDENCE — Lincoln High coach John Menna may have had the prefect response when asked how to defeat Cumberland in the Northern Division Championship – “Probably pray a lot. That’s about it,” he said. “They are deep in just about all areas.”
Despite a pair of quality efforts from Menna’s Lions and rival Woonsocket, it was Cumberland’s loaded roster once again that prevailed on Saturday afternoon. Scoring in nearly every event, including a double-winning performance from distance ace Trevor Crawley, the Clippers captured their 12th straight league title inside the Providence Athletic Facility, defeating second-place Lincoln, 111-88. Woonsocket was third with 84 points.
“We have finished second (or third) to Cumberland so many times, they just have a great program,” WHS head coach George Briggs said. “In indoor track, you have to score in every event and we are very strong in some areas but in the process of improving in others. “
“I put kids in double (events) and that was difficult,” said longtime Cumberland coach Tom Kenwood. “I asked some difficult things from them and now the reward is next week (at the class championships) they go out to their favorite event and do whatever they can.”
One of those doubles that proved successful was turned in by Crawley, who won the 3,000- and 1,500-meter runs. The super sophomore manufactured a personal-best effort in the 3,000 with a time of 9 minutes, 10 seconds. On limited rest, he came back and took the 1,500 title, coasting to a time of 4:27.3. Teammate Tom Fownes was fifth at 4:37.2.
In the longer race, Crawley stayed behind early leader Alex Gallo of North Providence. He went through the mile at 4:51 and passed Gallo with 600 meters left. St. Raphael junior Robert Parker was second at 9:22.
“I felt really good,” Crawley said. “It was one of my best races of the year. I PR'd by three seconds.”
The Clippers’ Chris Duarte, who owns the fastest time in the state in the 55 hurdles, copped his specialty with ease, with a time of 7.9. Woonsocket’s Anthony Neal was second at 8.3.
Cumberland also found victory in the 1,000 with Matt Sutcliffe taking the crown with a time of 2:45.8. The Clippers’ Matt Spavold was fifth at 2:59.2. Ryan Rei had a distance of 20-4 3/4 to take the long jump.
The turning point in the meet, according to Kenwood, occurred in the 25-point weight throw where the Blue and White collected 16 points and took an 81-58 lead after nine events were completed. The Clippers’ Brian Hamann earned individual gold with a distance of 51-3 ¼ and teammate Joseph Covino was third at 50-2.
“I thought we’d get maybe 10 points,” he said. “We could have even had more but we had a kid home sick.”
Woonsocket sophomore Juan Rivera copped the shot put with a career best of 42-7. Rivera, who hasn't competed in nearly a month, was nearly two feet further than his seed of 40-11.
The Villa Novan opened with a then-personal best of 41-8 and achieved his winning distance on his next toss.
“My coaches were telling me to stay low and drive and I guess I listened to them,” Rivera said. “I hit 42 (feet) and I am super excited about it.
Woonsocket began the meet with a victory by its 4x200 relay of Jalen Evans, Anthony Neal, Alex Correia and Tyler Bourk,who combined for a time of 1:37.5.
One of the more exciting races of the night occurred in the 300 where Evans held off Shea's Fred Gobewole. Evans took a good lead by the cutoff point and then ignored a spirited effort by Gobewole the final straightaway to win with a school-record time of 36.8. Gobewole was second at 37.3 and Tolman’s Ousmane Samb was third in 37.5.
“He’s a tough competitor, and I think that comes from being a great football player,” Briggs said. “I think a lot of that comes from his mom. His mom was an outstanding athlete with us some years ago. Give him the lead and he very rarely loses. He’s a fighter.”
Gobewole, the top-ranked sprinter in the 55 dash, captured that race with ease, breaking the tape in 6.3.
Central Falls junior Steven Vazquez came through with his best effort of the season to cop the high jump with a leap of 6-6. Vazquez, who opened up at 5-8, cleared all his jumps on the first attempt until reaching 6-4.
After missing that height twice, he learned what he needed to do to get better.
“When I was approaching the bar I wasn't lifting my knee up,” he said. “I wasn't attacking the bar. That's what I need to do.”
Vazquez achieved the state's best leap despite limited to no practice due to the fact that he also plays on the school's basketball team. The gifted Warrior, the reigning outdoor titlist, competed in Saturday's meet only a few hours after practicing with the hoop squad.
“I had practice before here so I am kind of sore,” he said. “The event has kind of stuck with me from year to year.”
Lincoln's Geoffrey Conklin claimed the 600 title with a time of 1:28.7. Conklin, Taylor Vass, Tom Tallo and Dan Janetti won the meet's final event, the 4x400 relay, with a time of 3:46.7. The Lions also won the 4x800.