PROVIDENCE — The state championships for track and field will be held in about a month. It’s getting closer to realizing who will be the contenders and who will be the pretenders.
From a local standpoint, a few of those possible contenders for the girls’ competition were inside the Providence Career and Technical Academy field house Monday afternoon for their respective divisional meets.
One of the biggest surprises this season is the performance of Tolman High junior Veronica Wiggins in the shot put. Wiggins currently is ranked No. 2 in the state with a best of 35 feet, 6 inches. The Tiger standout was at the top of the list for several weeks until losing her position at the inaugural East Coast Invitational this past Saturday when she finished as a runner-up with her current best to Exeter/West Greenwich sophomore Victoria Ebert, who unleashed a winning throw of 36-¾.
Wiggins is already seven feet further than her best from last season. A change in technique has made a major impact on her progression. Wiggins was more a power thrower last year and has now utilized a slide technique inside the circle. In her first meet this winter, she cracked the 30-foot barrier with a distance of 32 feet.
Tolman coach Edward Tarczak had no doubt that his star thrower could achieve what she has done so far.
“Once I saw her, I knew she could do it,” he said. “She is strong as anything. All she needed was some technique.”
In Monday’s Dwyer Division meet against West Warwick and the Wheeler School, Wiggins copped two events, winning the shot put at 34-8 and the 20-pound weight with a PB of 36-8 ½. Her distance in the weight throw was a six-foot improvement and put her on the cusp of the qualifying standards for the event at next month’s state meet on Feb. 18.
In terms of the shot put, Tarczak believes Wiggins is capable of earning gold at the state level. That will be the first time that anyone from Tolman has ever won the individual title in the event.
“I think she’s capable of 37 feet. I think she will win it,” Tarczak said. “We are going to work the next three weeks. We will really be working hard, and she wants to work to. That’s the main thing.”
Wiggins has exceeded her own expectations.
“I was thinking maybe like 10th or something (at the state meet),” she said. “Now I want to go to the New England’s. I am just going to try and work and get better. I think I can do pretty well … I want to make 37 (feet). I just got to work hard.”
Mount St. Charles Academy, which battled Lincoln and North Kingstown in a Bayha Division meet, has two athletes that are on pace for a strong placement at the state meet. Senior Ali Sayles and junior Rita Donohoe are both ranked among the elite in their respective events.
Sayles, the defending outdoor titlist in the 100-meter hurdles, is presently third in the 55 hurdles and tied for third in the high jump. The Mount star looked smooth in both events yesterday, winning the high jump with a leap of five feet and placing second to North Kingstown’s Maria Bolibruch in the hurdles with a best of 8.7 to Bolibruch’s 8.6.
“I think it’s going great,” Sayles said. “I think I have improved a lot from last season to this season, and I think I can improve more.”
Sayles’ best event to prosper at the state meet is the hurdles. She comes into the season with added confidence after winning the 100 hurdles at the outdoor meet where she beat Smithfield’s Angela Ragosta, the top-ranked athlete.
Ragosta clocked an 8.4 in yesterday’s Bayha Division meet with Toll Gate and Westerly, the best time in R.I. Sayles admitted her victory this past June at the states has helped her mentally.
“With a big title like that it’s hard not to gain confidence,” she said. “I would love to do eight seconds (this season), but let’s see what we can do…maybe, 8.5. I hope to be a lot faster.”
In the high jump, Sayles will be competing with two jumpers that are nationally-ranked. La Salle Academy senior Dakota Dailey-Harris is tied for third in the country with her best of 5-8. Woonsocket junior Kaylnn “K.K.” Pitts has a best of 5-6 and tied for eighth nationwide.
Sayles has a season best of 5-0 and did a PB of 5-3 during the outdoor season last year. She changed her style during the spring from an unorthodox ‘C’ approach to a more traditional ‘J’ approach, and it’s done wonders.
“It’s actually helped me with my form and enabled me to jump higher,” she said. “I was stubborn last year, but I learned that traditional is better.”
“She is improving tremendously from last year to this year (in the high jump) when she was kind of stubborn with the change,” MSC coach Paul Jacques said. “After talking with some of the coaches and officials, she is starting to get better. Her takeoff is a lot better.”
The Mount coach feels Sayles’ best event to possibly win is the hurdles.
“Angela from Smithfield is the individual to beat,” Jacques said. “We got to work on our starts. Ali sometimes is slow out of the blocks and I think that’s more of what we need to get down. Angela is a great finisher, but I really think that Ali loses the race in her starts.”
The Mounties’ Donohoe is tied for seventh in the 55 dash with a best of 7.4. Donohoe competed for Mount on the outdoor team as a freshman, but skipped last year to concentrate on her other love of soccer.
Her heart told her to come back.
“I missed it…a lot!” she said.
Donohoe won yesterday’s meet in the dash with ease, clocking her current best. She also copped the 300 with a time of 44.1.
“She’s a surprise addition to the team,” Jacques said. “She has done wonders with our 4x200 relay, the 55 and 4x400 relay. When you put her in those races, it’s just outstanding watching her run.”
Donohoe admitted she’s a little stunned on how well she is running this season.
“It’s going a lot better than I expected,” she said.” I was really surprised. My times have been pretty much improving the whole season, which is good. I kind of want to continue it now, actually.”
“She has a tremendous start out of the blocks and just her finish from 25 meters on (is superb),” Jacques said. “She’s a great competitor. If she sees someone in front of her, she just wants to track them down.”
Local dual meet results (Monday)
At Providence Career and Technical Academy field house
Shea 34, Rogers 27
Warwick 63, Shea 28
55 – Saskia Morgan, 7.4
300 – Morgan, 43.8
55HH – Lexis Galvao, 13.5
Portsmouth 74, Ponaganset 32
Portsmouth 97, St. Raphael 6
Ponaganset 78, St. Raphael 16
600 – Fiona Beltram, P, 1:55.2
3,000 – Casey McGrath, P, 11:29.5
HJ – Cat Dominick, P, 5-0
1,500 – A. Jackson, SRA, 5:25.4
Woonsocket 62, Cranston West 42
Woonsocket 54, East Greenwich 54
55 – Jazmine White, W, 7.5
55HH – Justyna Pietrus, W, 9.7
WGT – Victoria Cooper, W, 31-6 ¾
Shot – Cooper, W, 22-3 ½
LJ – Kaylynn Pitts, W, 16- ½
West Warwick 74, Tolman 33
Tolman 50, Wheeler 26
WGT – Veronica Wiggins, 36-8 ½
Shot – Wiggins, 34-8
Mount St. Charles 72, Lincoln 36
North Kingstown 74, Mount St. Charles 35
North Kingstown 82, Lincoln 22
300 – Rita Donohoe, 44.1
55 – Donohoe, 7.4
Shot – Marie Ryan, 27-6 ¾
HJ – Ali Sayles, 5-0
LJ – Cassie Roberge, 15-8 ½
East Providence 94, PCD/Juanita Sanchez 11
East Providence 96, Mount Pleasant 6
3,000 – Catherine Browning, 12:53
1,500 – Yuliandra Henriquez, 5:32.5
600 – Henriquez, 3:31.0
300 – Sierra Cunningham, 45.0
55 – Cunningham, 7.5
55HH – Kaitlyn Bellamy, 11.0
4x200 – East Providence, 4:46.8
WGT – Carly Manchester,26.5
HJ – Darian Dailey, 4-2
LJ – Dailey,15-9 ¼
Prout 71, Central Falls 12
Cranston East 43, Central Falls 24