PROVIDENCE — It's not all about winning state championships.
With an emerging track and field program like the Woonsocket High girls, it's all about taking it one meet, one year at a time.
The Villa Novans, who last week copped their second straight league tile in the Dwyer Division, took another positive step forward on Saturday afternoon at the Providence Athletic Facility. Competing in the hard-as-nails Large School Championship, Woonsocket finished fourth among the nine schools with a solid 51.5 points.
La Salle Academy captured the team title with a 130-72.5 win over Classical. North Kingstown was third with 59. All three schools are expected to be among the top six at next week's State Meet.
“I am very excited,” WHS coach Dan Richard said. “The kids are competing against the better teams in the state. That's what we have been trying to hope for the past few years. It's important to me to soar in the dual meets but this is what really separates the really good teams from the rest.”
Woonsocket scored in nine of the 14 events in the meet and also crowned an individual champion with junior Latoya Dythe taking the 55-meter dash in a tight three-person race that was separated by hundredths of a second. The Villa Novans also collected 14.5 of their points in the high jump with a 2-3-6 performance from sophomore Kaylnn “K.K.” Pitts, junior Lourdes Villaman and sophomore Marissa Gelinas.
Dythe was a bit surprised about her victory. She edged Classical's Dara Falaye and Coventry's Katelyn Guilmette at the line with a time of 7.6 seconds. Falaye and Guilmette recorded identical times.
Earlier in the meet, Dythe ran a leg on the Novans' third-place 4x200 relay of Krislyn Godin, Villaman and Pitts that tied a school record with their time of 1:50.9, a mere half second behind Classical's winning time. She also finished third in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 6 inches.
“I didn't think I would win it (in the 55),” she said. “I didn't feel I was having a good day.”
Dythe, who ran 7.6 in her qualifying heat of the hurdles, copped the title in the finals with a late burst at the end. Villaman was sixth at 7.8.
“I figured maybe she would get second,” Richard said. “She had the second fastest time going in and she had a lot going on before...I thought she would have some tired legs. But she looked good in the prelims and really put on a burst at the end. She won the event in the last five meters.”
The high jump turned out to be a prosperous event for the Villa Novans. Pitts was beaten for the title by La Salle's Dakota Dailey-Harris, who matched the height of 5-2 by her rival but won a fewer misses. Villaman took third with a personal best of 4-10 and Gelinas tied Classical's Krystal Morrison for sixth at 4-8.
“That's super,” Richard said. “I thought we might get 10 points. With K.K., Latoya and Marissa, we ended up getting (almost) 15. Three out of the top six is really good for us. There is some tough competition in (the Large Schools) and the girl from La Salle is very, very good.”
Dailey-Harris, a fourth-place finisher to Pitts at last spring's outdoor state meet, holds the best leap in the state with her 5-4 effort at last week's divisional meet.
“That's the height I think it's going to take to win it (at the state meet),” Pitts said. “That's only going to motivate me to work even harder this week.”
Woonsocket senior Allyson Baptiste amassed 10 points for her teammates in the weight events. She was third in the shot put with a heave of 31-2 and was fourth in the 20-pound weight with a distance of 39-6 ¼.
Cumberland was sixth in the meet with 24 points. Breigh Souleire, the Clippers' talented sophomore, was second in the 55 high hurdles with a personal-best time of 8.9. North Kingstown freshman Maria Bolibruch won the event at 8.8.
Souliere's performance continues her sudden rise to elite status in the state. Her best this season is nearly two seconds faster than what she ran as a freshman last winter.
“I wasn't even in the JV states last year,” she said. “As a freshman, unless you get a really good time, you are not really in JV states. I was just average.”
“It seriously has happened overnight,” she continued. “I wasn't expecting anything. I always wanted to do really good. I kept telling myself that if I keep trying I can do better.”
Spurred by victories from its 4x400 relay squad and from sophomore Brittany Redding in the 55 hurdles, Lincoln finished a solid fourth in the Medium School Championship. Barrington copped the team plaque, defeating runner-up Toll Gate, 100-80. The Lions tied Westerly with 55 points.
Redding won the hurdles with a time of 9.2, two tenths of a second faster than second-place finisher Jill Levcowich of Westerly. The Lions' Marissa D'Amelio was third at 9.6.
“That moves her up in the standings,” LHS coach Liz Carlson said. “She had a 9.3 prior to that. She'll probably move into the top five. She had a great race. The first race (preliminaries) she was a little sluggish, but she did well enough to advance to the next round. In the final round she came flying out of the gates, and Marissa was right there with her. (Marissa) got hooked up on one of the hurdles but didn't come down and still finished third. The two of them had great races.”
Redding, D'Amelio and teammates Jessica Kast and Kristen Giarrusso combined their efforts in the 4x400 where they won with a two-second personal best of 4:20.7. The talented quartet also placed third in the 4x200 with another two-second PB of 1:50.3.
Giarrusso collected 12 more points by taking second in the 55 dash (7.5) and fourth in the 300 (44.4). Senior Ariana Lefebvre was second in the high jump with a leap of 4-10.
“She has been struggling for a while trying to get over 4-10,” Carlson said. “She did well. She cleared 4-10, finished second and couldn't quite get five feet. Then again, she was dancing that dance where she also had to do the hurdles and what not. But she was pleased with her performance today. It was good to see here get that 4-10 and next week we can just focus on the high jump. Five feet is definitely within her range.”
Smithfield High won its eighth straight title in the Small School Championships, breezing to a 118.33-81.33 win over second-place East Greenwich. Central Falls was third at 51 and Mount St. Charles was fourth with 42.33 points.
Sentinel sophomore Angela Ragosta maintained her top status in the 55 high hurdles by claiming that event with a time of 8.7. Mount junior Ali Sayles was second at 8.9.
Sayles earned the high jump title by clearing five-feet even. C.F. Sophomore Tiffany Jenkins was third at 4-8.
Smithfield's gifted freshman Brooke Jenkins copped two events, winning the 1,500-meter run with a time of 5:08.3 and also breaking the tape in the 1,000 with a 3:19.5 clocking.
Central Falls senior Aleide Fernandes tossed a season-best state-leading distance of 56-2 ¼ to take the 20-pound weight throw. She was also the victor in the shot put with a heave of 35-10.
Shea junior Saskia Morgan defeated the field in the 55 dash with a time of 7.4. C.F. Senior Kadijah Johnson was second in 7.5.