PROVIDENCE – Kaylnn “K.K.” Pitts put on her sweats and just sat down on the infield.
Like most of the athletes and spectators at Saturday’s R.I. Indoor Track & Field Championships, all the Woonsocket High sophomore could do was watch what was transpiring in the high jump area and marvel.
Pitts, the reigning outdoor titlist, had what she described as her best effort of the season in the high jump. Unfortunately, on this particular afternoon that would “only” get her second best in the final results.
Pitts, along with Mount St. Charles Academy junior Ali Sayles, tied for runner-up honors in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 2 inches inside the Providence Athletic Facility. The individual prize went to La Salle junior Dakota Dailey-Harris, who not only achieved a personal best but broke a more than decade-long state meet and interscholastic league record with a winning height of 5-7.
“I was looking for the win, but I was proud of myself today,” said a gracious Pitts afterwards. “I actually got 5-2 on my first attempt. Today was actually the best I jumped. I felt like I almost had 5-4, but I guess I should have kicked a little more. I mean, I won once so you can’t win them all. You can’t win them all. I’ll see her in outdoor and we’ll see what happens then.”
Dailey-Harris was competing in only her third meet of the winter season. Also a starting forward for the school’s basketball team, she didn’t get onto the indoor surface until Feb. 2 when she captured the Headley Division crown with a then state-leading height of 5-4.
The Ram standout then went head-to-head with Pitts at the Class A Championship last Saturday and pulled out the win on few misses with both athletes clearing 5-2. In last year’s outdoor meet, won by Pitts in her debut to track & field, Dailey-Harris tied for third with Sayles at 5-1.
“It was pretty amazing that she got the state record,” Pitts said. “I saw her in outdoor last year and it was like ‘Wow! She really improved.’ That’s what I like to see. I like to see people come back and see that they have improved. It’s really amazing to watch.”
Woonsocket girls’ coach Dan Richard, who was elected by his peers at the conclusion of the meet as the Coach of the Year, was certainly not disappointed in his star jumper’s effort. Pitts also finished eighth in the long jump (16-2) and ran a leg on the Villa Novans’ eighth-place 4x200-meter squad.
“She had a great performance today,” Richard said. “She tied for second in the high jump. She was eighth in the long jump and the relay team got eighth as well. She did really well for a sophomore and her first year of indoor.”
“It's tough beating someone that sets the state record (in the high jump),” he continued. “You got to hand it to the La Salle kid. She had a great jump. But that's good for KK. It will give her someone to shoot for.”
The Mounties’ Sayles also had a strong and productive afternoon. Besides her finish in the high jump, she also placed third behind individual winner, sophomore Angela Ragosta of Smithfield, in the 55 high hurdles with an electronically-timed 8.99 seconds. Ragosta, the top seed in the event, won with a time of 8.64. Cumberland sophomore Breigh Souliere was fourth at 8.98.
“I am proud of myself and what I’ve done,” she said, referring to the high jump. “It’s better than I did last year. Five-two, it’s my height, it’s my PR. I think I was close to 5-4, but I am very proud at what I did today. I cleared all my heights on my first attempt.”
One of the surprises of the meet occurred in the boys’ 55 high hurdles when Chris Duarte of Cumberland, one of the pre-race favorites along with Classical’s Jarell Forbes, finished fifth overall. Duarte won his preliminary heat with ease at 8.04. In the finals, he wasn’t quite as lucky. Duarte was running neck-and-neck with Forbes until the second to last hurdle, one he hit hard with his foot. The mishap broke the rhythm of the Clipper hurdler and he stumbled across the line in 8.17. Forbes claimed the crown, running 7.68.
“He was right there for first place,” said Cumberland coach Tom Kenwood. “He hit that fourth hurdle and that kind of threw him off-balance and he rolled across the line.”
Smithfield senior Liam Hillery ran a gutsy race in the 3,000. He led for nearly a mile of the race before fading to fourth overall with a time of 8:53.72.
Woonsocket senior Jessie Charette and Cumberland junior Ryan Rei achieved personal-best distances in the long jump. The event was copped by Chariho’s Innocent Jacob, ranked No. 4 nationally, with a leap of 23-4. Charette finished third overall at 21-10 ¾ and Rei was fifth at 20-11 ¼. The two rivals tied for a non-placing seventh in the high jump at 5-10.
Rei had a more than seven-inch best in the long jump.
“It was a very good performance,” Kenwood said. “He hurt his knee during soccer and has been hampered all season by the injury. He didn’t compete until January.”
The Villa Novans’ Jarell Evans was sixth in the 300 with a 36.92 clocking.
There were no surprises in the quest for team supremacy as the favored Bishop Hendricken boys and La Salle Academy girls won their respective titles. The Hawks took their 17th consecutive crown with a 74-51 win over second-place La Salle. The Lady Rams made it five in a row with a 65-51 victory over runner-up Hope.
The Pawtucket/Central Falls area certainly made its presence known at the state meet.
Central Falls senior Aleide Fernandes lived up to her top billing in the weight events by capturing her two specialties. Fernandes uncorked the 20-pound weight a distance of 55-10 ¼. Barrington’s Robyn McFetters was a distant second at 50-4 ½. The talented Warrior then copped the shot with a heave of 38-1 ¼.
Shea senior Freddy Gobewole also made sure that no one would knock him from his No. 1 ranking by taking the 55 dash with a time of 6.43. Gobewole also finished third in the 300 at 36.77.
In the high jump, outdoor champion Steven Vazquez of Central Falls was third overall with a height of 6-4. The Chargers’ Jacob took the individual title with an outstanding leap of 6-10.
Team standings – 1. Bishop Hendricken, 74; 2, La Salle, 51; 9. Shea, 16; 18. Woonsocket, 7; 19. Central Falls, 6; 21. Tie, Lincoln, Smithfield, Cumberland, 4. 24. East Providence, 1.
Top local finishers
4x800 – 4. Lincoln (Aaron Brunelle, Geoffrey Conklin, Tom Tallo, Daniel Janetti) 8:26.24
3,000 – 4. Liam Hillery, S, 8:53.72; 11. Trevor Crawley, C, 9:28.08.
4x200 – 8. Woonsocket (Jalen Evans, Jessie Charette, Alex Correia, Anthony Neal) 1:36.71
HJ – 3. Steven Vazquez, CF, 6-4; 7. Charette, W, Rei, C, 5-10.
55HH - 5. Chris Duarte, C, 8.17.
55 – 1. Freddy Gobewole, Sh, 6.43; 8. Ryan Williams, EP, 6.8.
300 – 3. Gobewole, Sh, 36.77; 6. Jalen Evans, W, 36.92..
LJ – 3. Charette, W, 21-10 ¾; 5. Ryan Rei, C, 20-11 ¼; 6. Kevin Morrison, EP, 20-9; 7. Trent Depina, EP, 20-8 ¼.
Team standings – 1. La Salle, 65; 2. Hope, 51; 3. Classical, 31; 8. Central Falls, 22; 12. Smithfield, 15; 13. Mount St. Charles, 13; 14. Woonsocket, 9; 16. Cumberland, 8; 17. Shea, 6; 22. Ponaganset, 15. 24 schools
Top local finishers
1,500 – 4. Brooke Jenkins, Sm, 4:57.37.
WGT – 1. Aleide Fernandes, CF, 55-10 ¼; 5. Kadijah Johnson, CF, 44-9 ¼; 7. Kryssa Lachappelle, , 41-3/4.
55HH – 1. Angela Ragosta, S, 8.64; 3. Ali Sayles, MSC, 8.99; 4. Breigh Souliere, C, 8.98.
LJ – 6. Ragosta, S, 16-5 ½.
55 – 3. Saskia Morgan, Sh, 7.55; 7. Agenia Jacobs, Sh, 7.71; 8. Latoya Dythe, W, 7.74.
1,000 – 7. Jenkins, S, 3:08.43.
Shot – 1. Fernandes, CF, 38-1 ¼; 5. Kelsey Boucher, W, 32-8; 7. Sarah Elgar, S, 32-3 ¼.
HJ – 2. Kaylnn Pitts, MSC, Ali Sayles, W, 5-2; 4. Amber Russell, C, 5-2; 5. Catherine Dominick, P, Amy Roy, Cha, 4-10; 7. Tiffany Jenkins, CF, 4-10; 8. Ariana Lefebvre, L, 4-10.