PROVIDENCE — There are four divisions in R.I. girls’ indoor track and without a doubt the toughest of them all is the Headley Division. The nine-team division features three of the top six schools from last year’s state meet, including five-time defending champion La Salle Academy.
Roughly four hours after the first event took place inside the Providence Career and Technical Academy field house, Cumberland High coach Joyce Bonner was getting ready to board the bus back home. Considering what her squad was up against, she was satisfied with how her Clippers performed with their seventh-place finish and 21 ½ points.
It was no surprise that La Salle won the plaque, defeating second-place Classical, 115-102. Barrington placed third at 58.
“It’s hard,” said Bonner. “In any other division, many of my girls would have placed today. Barrington said it best. They are going to place (third) today and they are (ranked) fifth in the state. That says it all. We are in the best division. They call the top two divisions – Headley and Bayha – the championship divisions. But by far, this is the best. It is what it is. I had girls that did very well today. They should definitely be proud of themselves.”
The Clippers managed to earn two individual victories in the meet. Completing undefeated seasons against their divisional rivals, junior Breigh Souliere captured the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.9 seconds and junior Kendra Plant placed first in the shot put with a distance of 33 feet, 4 inches.
Souliere matched her season-best of 8.7 in her semifinal heat. She held the lead in the finals from start to finish. Classical sophomore Alicia Holloway was a distant second at 9.1.
Souliere, who was a fourth-place finisher at last year’s indoor states and is currently tied for third in R.I. with Mount St. Charles Academy senior Ali Sayles, has been fine tuning her approach to the hurdles. Assistant coach Chris Fernandes has been working with his young hurdler, limiting her steps between hurdles to three instead of four.
In a qualifying meet last week, Souliere had a rare off-day, hitting a hurdle in the semifinals and never making it to the finals. With a new approach, Fernandes believes his talented Clipper can improve on her times dramatically.
“With her, her speed has always been her strength. She has always been good with that,” he said. “What we have been working on is tweaking her form when she goes over the hurdle to give her that extra step. We started working on it last week and I think that’s why she hit the hurdle because she was still getting used to those steps.”
Souliere admitted the new approach, one that makes her extend her trail leg into a longer stride, felt somewhat awkward, but she’s willing to do what it takes to compete with the state’s best. Currently, North Kingstown sophomore Maria Bolibruch has the fastest time in the state with an 8.3, a time she ran in capturing the crown in the Bayha meet earlier in the day.
“I was nervous (today) because it was my first time doing it in a meet so I kind of stuck to what I knew,” Souliere said. “If I can get comfortable with it and consistently do it, I think I will be set.”
Plant copped the shot by more than a foot with her winning effort. South Kingstown senior Aysha Moreino was second at 31-11 ½.
“Kendra is getting stronger and stronger,” Bonner said. “I think she does better when she throws the weight first and then the shot. I didn’t work that way today so she didn’t have her best day. But she won the shot and I expect her to get stronger and stronger for the states (on Feb. 18).”
The Clippers’ Taylor Key, a sophomore, tied for fifth in the high jump with a leap of 4-8. The event was won by La Salle senior Dakota Dailey-Harris at 5-6. Dailey-Harris is presently tied for fifth in the event nationwide with a best of 5-8.
Mount St. Charles finished third in the Bayha Division Championship with 59.33 points. The Mounties had three individual victories in the meet.
“We are extremely pleased with how we finished today,” said MSC coach Paul Jacques, whose squad finished fifth during the dual-meet season at an even 4-4. “It was a very good team effort by everybody.”
Senior Ali Sayles scored 15 points for the Mounties. She tied with Toll Gate’s Rylee Condon for first in the high jump with a leap of 5-0. She was also third in the 55 hurdles with a time of 9.0.
Rita Donohoe, one of the state’s fastest sprinters, copped the 55 dash with a personal-best clocking of 7.2. Donohoe also placed second in the 300 with another best of 42.2.
Her time in the dash ranks her among the elite in the state.
“Rita had an outstanding meet today,” Jacques said. “Her time in the 55 was a best and she also broke a school record with her time in the 300.”
Donohoe took control right from the start in the dash. Woonsocket senior Latoya Dythe was second at 7.4.
“She just took off right out of the blocks,” Jacques said. “Right around 20-25 meters, she just took off from the field.
Mount had its other win from junior Cassie Roberge, who captured the long jump with a leap of 16-8. Roberge was also fourth in the hurdles at 9.0.
Woonsocket, which was competing without star high-jumper/long jumper Kaylnn Pitts, was eighth in the Bayha meet with 23 points. Dythe turned in a solid, all-around effort for the Villa Novans.
“Latoya had a really strong meet,” said WHS coach Dan Richard. “She ran a career best in the 55 dash. She had a really good long jump and had a really nice leg in the 4x200 (relay).”
Besides her runner-up effort to Donohoe in the 55, Dythe was third in the long jump with a distance of 16-4. Teammate Jazmine White was fifth in the event at 15-7 ¾.
Woonsocket senior Jordan Lopes set a school mark in the 600, finishing fifth overall with a time of 1:46.6. In the 20-pound weight, junior Victoria Copper had a three-foot PB of 34-7 ½ to take fifth overall.
Lincoln, which placed seventh in the meet with 25 points, had a trio of third-place finishes. Two of those came from junior Kristen Giarrusso in the 55 (7.5) and the 300 (44.0). The Lions also took third in the 4x200 relay with a combined time of 1:51.6.
Sullivan Division Championship
Team scores – 1. Hope, 113; 5. Tie, Central Falls, Narragansett 25
Top local finishers
300 – 6. Tiffany Jenkins, CF, 47.81
HJ – 1. Jenkins, CF, 4-10; 2. Anjelique Cooley, CF, 4-8
WGT – 3. Jennifer Cabral, CF, 36-8 ¼
Bayha Division Championship
Team scores – 1. Toll Gate, 114.33; 3. Mount St. Charles, 59.33; 7. Lincoln, 25; 8. Woonsocket, 23
Top local finishers
4x800 – 6. Mount St. Charles, 11:10.10.
4x200 – 3. Lincoln, 1:51.60; 5. Mount St. Charles, 1:54.1
55HH – 3. Ali Sayles, MSC, 9.0; 6. Melissa Gelinas, W, 9.4
55 – 1. Rita Donohoe, MSC, 7.2; 2. Latoya Dythe, W, 7.4; 3. Kristen Giarrusso, L, 7.5; 5. Jazmine White, W, 7.6
600 – 5. Jordan Lopes, W, 1:46.6
300 – 2. Donohoe, MSC, 42.2; 3. Giarrusso, L, 44.0
HJ – 1. Tie, Sayles, MSC, Rylee Candon, TG, 5-0; 6. Tie, Kathyrn Platek, MSC, Kelsey Maymon, NK, Frechette-Thibeault, TG, 4-6
Shot – 6. Marie Ryan, MSC, 28-5 ½
WGT – 5. Victoria Cooper, W, 34-7 ½; 6. Amanda Paradis, L, 33-11 ½
LJ – 1. Cassie Roberge, MSC, 16-8; 3. Dythe, W, 16-4; 5. Jazmine White, W, 15-7 ¾
4x400 – 2. Mount St. Charles, 4:15.0
Dwyer Division Championship
Team scores – 1. Portsmouth, 165; 2. East Providence, 97; 4. Ponaganset, 53; 6. Tolman, 12; 7. St. Raphael Academy, 10.
Top local finishers
4x200 – 1. East Providence (Deonna DaSilva, Darien Daily, Sierra Cunningham, Amanda Horton) 1:51.9; 3. Ponaganset, 1:59.2
WGT – 6. Veronica Wiggins, T, 31-11
3,000 – 1. Casey McGrath, P, 11:22.2
1,500 – 1. Ashley Johnson, SRA, 5:19.10; 2. Yuliandra Henrique, EP, 5:31.0; 4. Catherine Browning, EP, 5:46.1
55 – 1. Sierra Cunningham, EP, 7.2; 2. Deonna DaSilva, EP, 7.4; 5. Darian Dailey, EP, 7.6
55HH – 5. Kaitlyn Bellamy, EP, 10.5; 6. Lauren Vine, EP, 11.1
HJ – 1. Cat Dominick, P, 5-0; 2. Sierra Smith, P, 4-10
Shot – 2. Wiggins, T, 33-11; 4. Ami Humphrey, P, 28-4 ½; 5. Lauren Caduto, P, 27- ¾
LJ – 1. Dailey, EP, 16-2 ½ ; 3. Bellamy, EP, 15-4 ¾
4x800 – 3. East Providence, 11:29.8
4x400 – 2. Ponaganset, 4:39.10; 3. East Providence, 4:42.8
Headley Division Championship
Team scores –1. La Salle Academy, 115; 7. Cumberland, 21.5.
Top local finishers
HJ – 5. Taylor Key, C, 4-8
Shot – Kendra Plant, C, 33-4
55HH – 1. Breigh Soulierre, C, 8.7