Lima takes over boys’ track program

Lima takes over boys’ track program

Cumberland High’s Josh Lima, center, shown talking with former All-State jumper Meaghan Scullin, left, and girls’ track and field coach Vanessa Molloy, right, during a break in the 2015 RIIL Indoor Championships at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house, is the new head coach of the boys’ indoor track and field team. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Cumberland head football coach replaces Kenwood, looks to continue team’s success

CUMBERLAND – Josh Lima knows that he has huge shoes to fill as the new head coach of the Cumberland High boys’ indoor track and field team.

Not only is he inheriting a squad that hasn’t lost a Northern Division dual meet since 2003 or dropped a Northern Division championship meet since the division was created in 1996, but he’s also replacing one of the legendary track and field coaches in New England, the recently retired Tom Kenwood.

That may seem like a lot of pressure to put on someone, but Lima doesn’t feel any at all.

“Replacing T.K. is obviously big shoes to fill,” Lima said on Friday afternoon before his squad’s workouts inside the school’s Wellness Center. “He’s been here for 40-plus years and (won) so many division championships and coached guys that have won state titles and New England titles and been All-Americans. He’s done such a great job with the program that I’m coming into something that’s been established, so it’s a pretty easy transition.

“If this was a program where there wasn’t many kids running or it hadn’t seen any success, then it would be a lot tougher. But he’s done an awesome job, so this is a program that we can step into and hopefully continue to have some success with.”

Lima, who recently wrapped up his fourth season as the Clippers’ head football coach, had served on the indoor and outdoor staffs and worked closely with Kenwood and girls’ head coach Vanessa Molloy, and when Kenwood decided earlier this year to call it a career after this past cross country season, Lima’s appointment as his replacement was a no-brainer.

Seventy-eight students signed up for this year’s team, and while that number is impressive, so is the rest of the Clippers’ coaching staff, which includes North Cumberland Middle School cross country coach Kerrie Carpenter working with the distance runners and former Cumberland High standout Colin Cabral working with the throwers.

Carpenter, who saw her NCMS varsity and junior varsity squads repeat as state champions this year, “has had a ton of success with her middle school teams, and we’re bringing in a coach that the kids know and really like to run for, so that’s huge for us,” said Lima. “Our distance guys are a really young group, but Kerrie’s been super excited to work with them. A lot of them she trained in middle school and with her (North Cumberland Surge) club program.”

As for Cabral, a 2012 graduate of Cumberland who concluded his collegiate career at Rhode Island College by winning the Little East Conference’s outdoor shot put title this past spring, “he’s also a great addition,” said Lima. “He’s going to predominately work with the girls, but he will help out with the boys here and there.”

During last Friday’s workouts, athletic director Matt Campanelli, who was also an outstanding thrower for the Clippers in the mid-1990s, made a pit stop to also work with the throwers. And if that wasn’t enough, Kenwood has an open invitation to drop by the school whenever he wants to help out.

“T.K. said he’ll help out as much as he can,” said Lima, who also hopes to run the boys’ outdoor program next spring. “And I told him he’s obviously always welcomed here. It’s an open door with him, and if ever has any advice for me or the kids, he can feel free to share it.”

As for this year’s top athletes, the two big names are senior Chris Choquette, who won last winter’s indoor state title in the 55-meter hurdles, capturing a photo finish in 7.73 seconds, and junior Jack Andrews, who is regarded as one of the best athletes in the school.

“Chris is obviously the top sprinter and hurdler back in the program,” noted Lima. “He’s been working hard and he’s going to have a great year, and Andrews is going to be one of our top guys as well. He’ll probably run the 55, 300, and relays, and probably get in the jumps a little bit.”

The Clippers should also again receive big points during the dual-meet season from their distance runners, and seven who are fresh off fantastic cross country seasons are juniors Dan Collard, Nathan Rogers, Mike Swerdlow, and Evan Marcet, sophomore Keith Sisson, and freshmen Owen Molis and Brendan Johnson.

And of the 78 student-athletes who signed up, a quarter of them hail from the football team, but didn’t report to practice until Monday so they could rest any bumps and bruises because “the football season is such a long one,” added Lima. “I think three-quarters of our throwers are football guys – they’re lineman and linebacker-type players – and a lot of our skill guys are sprinting and jumping for us. It’s a great way for those players that don’t play basketball or wrestle to be able to come out, run every day, and work out and get in better shape, as well as prove themselves throughout the offseason.”

As for the Clippers’ streaks of dual-meet victories and championship meet titles, which are both the second-best in the state – Bishop Hendricken hasn’t dropped a Suburban Division dual or title meet since 1993, they had been a topic that was brought up by some of the athletes, but Lima asked them to place their focus on something else.

“I said, ‘Let’s just focus on our dual meets,’ he recalled. “‘In football, we focus on one game at a time. Let’s just focus on one dual meet at a time.’ Obviously, the Northern Division is something that we have a target for, and we really want to go after it again this year. Eventually, we want to build a program that can go out and win a state title. That’s something we’re aiming for in the future.”

The Clippers were in action late Wednesday night, along with 17 other teams, in an Injury Fund exhibition meet at the Providence Career & Technical Field House. Their Northern Division opener isn’t until Monday, Dec. 18, at 5:30 p.m., when they return to Providence to contest Ponaganset and Shea.

Cumberland High senior Chris Choquette, shown getting ready to compete in the 55-meter hurdles during last year’s state championship meet at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house, claimed the title in 7.73 seconds. Choquette will be one of the top athletes on this season’s indoor track and field team.