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.
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 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.
Running track doesn’t draw crowds or attention like soccer, but if you’re a soccer player — or any athlete for that matter — and you don’t have spring sports (or winter, for that matter), running track offers an opportunity you can easily not found in individual workouts. This is a daily workout for players to work on speed and strength and, almost more importantly, an opportunity to compete. This will only make you better on the field.
It’s not just football. Basketball players grinding the AAU course in the spring are missing out on a golden opportunity. There is Division I talent out there on the Rhode Island hardwood, but too many get bogged down chasing DI tire dreams that don’t always materialize.
you can dip Why don’t you try the high jump or the long jump? When you see Buchanan, you can’t help but wonder what might have been if he had started athletics as a freshman. He’d probably have a state record or two and who knows where that would have led.
Apparently football worked for Buchanan – he’s going to the University of Rhode Island in the fall – and basketball was a nice backup option. But there are many basketball players who don’t realize the opportunities they are missing out on if they don’t try the sport.
I won’t pretend to be the greatest track and field athlete in the world, but it’s not hard to appreciate the sport for what it is. It’s always fun to watch athletes do athlete stuff, especially on June 4th. Then we’ll see the state’s best athletes compete at the RIIL State Championship Meet.
And hopefully next year more will try to join them.
Last week I told you about some of the state’s soccer stars who have accepted Division I offers. This week it was basketball’s turn.
Most hoopers go the preschool route before picking up offers from DI colleges, but two RIIL players got their first on Thursday. Sacred Heart University offered East Providence’s Trey Rezendes and La Salle’s Kelvin Odih on Thursday afternoon.
It is the first DI scholarship offer for both players. Rezendes is a 5-foot, 11-point sophomore with absurd pace, excellent passing skills and a strong goal sense. Odih, a sophomore, is a developing 6-4 tall man who is aggressive on both sides of the court on the perimeter and has a solid outside shot.
What is the future of the two players? More offers are sure to come in the next two years, but we’ll have to wait and see if these two will make an Erickson Bans-esque jump from the RIIL to the NCAA or go down the prep route.
You don’t see many seven-inning no-hitters in Division I baseball, but we did see two in three days last week.
It’s been a tough season for the Moses Brown baseball team, but on May 12 the Quakers had a stellar performance from Ass Aidan Aggarwal. The junior threw a no-no in the 4-0 win over East Providence, finishing a batter away from a perfect play.
Three days later it was Portsmouth’s Cam Ruggieri’s turn. The freshman hit six and went one in his no-hitter as the Patriots beat Barrington 5-0.
The postseason has arrived
The first champions of the spring sports season are set to be crowned on Sunday, assuming the RIIL Boys Tennis Singles and Doubles Championship Tournament goes smoothly (the forecast looks good).
The team championships also start on Monday and Tuesday with preliminary rounds – if necessary – before the quarter-finals at the end of the week. The team championship games are scheduled for June 4th.
On Tuesday, Rhode Island’s best girls will compete for the state golf crown at Warwick Country Club. Bay View’s Brooke Brennan graduated last spring, so there will be a new champion this season.
La Salle rookie Olivia Williams leads all girls to have played more than one round when it comes to scoring from the red tees, followed by Moses Brown junior Kylie Eaton – who finished second last year – and Barrington rookie Lily Dessel.
Also keep an eye out for Gianna Papa from Ponaganset. The newcomer has played every game from the white tees this season and finds herself in the top 20 scoring list for players with more than three rounds.
A casual approach to title games
Speaking of the postseason, it’s absurd that the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse championships aren’t until May 28th and May 29th.
There are a handful of games to play on Monday and Tuesday, but if push came to shove and the RIIL sets the finals for the last weekend of May, it could all have been wrapped up last weekend.
Why is that important?
On more than one occasion I have written that the RIIL needs to be more careful about when they schedule finals lest we get three sports championships in one day. As it stands now, June 4th will host the boys’ and girls’ track championships, four boys’ lacrosse championship games, four tennis championship games, and Game 2 of the D-III championship series.
Lacrosse could easily have slipped to May 28th and 29th and left the track on June 4th and tennis on June 5th.
Is part of that attitude a selfish desire on my part to see everything? Absolutely. I want to cover every possible league game and with the planning it’s not going to happen.
But it’s not just about coverage. Giving sport its own day also means that instead of a 10-second blip, these kids might get a 30-second packet on local TV.
When the number of participants is falling, why not give the sport a chance for more publicity instead of less? Perhaps next fall the RIIL can get serious about this, instead of just using the excuse ‘at that point the venue was available’, and really try to see how good it would be for their own brand.