Spring track and field is a great crossover sport for soccer and basketball players

Classic soccer and basketball star Marquis Buchanan is finding success in athletics, which leads to the question why more athletes aren't trying it.

I went to the RIIL Central Division track and field championships to get photos for a future story and left with something more – an appreciation for the sport.

It really started when I noticed that there were soccer players everywhere. There were All-State linemen in the throwing pits, All-State running backs and defensive backs in sprints, and All-State wide receivers competing in the jumping events.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Athletics travels and if you are athletic you should compete for your school.

Marquis Buchanan of Classical was out there. He was Gatorade Rhode Island Football Player of the Year and is a debut in athletics. His lack of technique did not prevent him from winning the long jump with a jump of 21 feet, 4.5 inches. He also won the high jump 6-2. Buchanan tried to clear 6-4 and failed because he didn’t arch his back or lean backwards – which should make him fearsome if he finds out before the June 4 state meeting.

Mount Pleasant wide receiver David Rodriguez attempts to clear the bar in high jump competition during the recent RIIL Central Division Championships.

Two of the more fascinating contestants were Hendricken’s NaeShaun Montgomery and Mount Pleasant’s David Rodriguez. The two newcomers have several Division I football deals. They both attend the track for the same reason – to help with their off-field training.

Rodriguez said he hopes to be part of the Kilties 4×400 relay team at the state meeting. He finished a solid fifth in the high jump, clearing 5-foot-8.

Montgomery finished fifth in the hurdles and third in the triple jump. He could be fighting for a medal at the state convention but said he’s not 100% sure he’ll be there in Rhode Island. He moves to Florida to complete his high school education to help with his football recruiting.

Mount Pleasant's Denzel Perry (left) is a star on the football team, but he's also one of the best sprinters in Rhode Island, as he recently proved at the Central Division Championships.

Mount Pleasant’s Denzel Perry was a demon in the Kilties defensive backfield and won the 200 yards. Bless Nyannah and Alex Morin, Hendricken’s second-team All-State linemen, went 1-2 in the shot put. They will try at the state meeting against Woonsocket’s Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan – who could have been an All-Stater on the defensive end if he had played full-time for Villa Novans last fall, rather than keeping in line with his commitments at the track bring to . That seemed fine with the University of Mississippi-bound senior.

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