Smithfield boys win first Class C indoor track title

Smithfield boys win first Class C indoor track title

Saddlemire, Golato win events for Sentinels; Boyd, Harrison, relay teams propel girls’ squad

PROVIDENCE – An eventful day at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house featured a bizarre conclusion to last Saturday’s Class C boys’ indoor track and field championship meet that saw a disqualification by St. Raphael Academy in the final event, the 4x400 relay, result in Smithfield High capturing its program’s first indoor class title.

Smithfield, SRA, and Westerly left everything on the floor in that event, and when SRA’s anchor leg, senior Darius Kipyego, crossed the finish line first, it looked like the Saints had all the points they needed to repeat as Class C champions.

But after some time with no announcement, there were no celebrations, but just wonderment. SRA head coach Chris Magill was then informed that on a technicality, which saw the Saints use a runner in that race that had been scratched from an earlier event, his team was instead DQ-ed.

Westerly was the event’s winner, and Smithfield, which had placed third behind its team of seniors Aidan Sayles, Matt Antunes, and Zachary Isble and sophomore Will Schiller, moved up to second place with its 3:49.53 time, and as a result, ended the meet atop the standings with 92 points, just three more than the Saints.

After the final decision, Smithfield head boys’ coach Jeff Kurbec was struggling with how to handle the win, especially after watching his talented freshman distance runner, Jason Padula, hurt his ankle in the third event of the day, the 3,000-meter run. Padula tried to continue the race, but was limping and losing ground and finally rolled off the track in pain.

“In terms of the win, it’s really hard,” said Kurbec, who notified the officials of the ineligible runner that the Saints used in the final relay. “We’ve never been in the top three in the class (meet) before, so it’s the best we’ve ever done. But I respect St. Ray’s. (Head coach) Chris (Magill) is a great guy and I was praying it wasn’t going to come to this.”

“I told (my team) that might have been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done as a coach,” he added. “On one hand, I have to fight for my team as a coach. On the other hand, it’s obviously difficult and uncomfortable because I’m doing it to somebody I really respect and like in Chris. And their kids are great and they left it all out there. They had as much heart and guts as we did. But I knew what the rule was, and my job is to fight for my kids and do what I could do.”

“It’s a tough way to win,” Kurbec continued. “But I certainly don’t want to take anything away from our guys either because they put up over 80 points before the relay was in question. That’s an unbelievable day for us. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten to 40 before.”

The Saints received a boost from the return of their talented middle distance runner, Kipyego, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot 2 1/2 months ago. The Iowa State University-bound senior came back to win the 55-meter dash, help the 4x800 relay team grab another victory, and take second place in the 600.

With Padula sidelined for the rest of the meet, the Sentinels depended on several other athletes for big points, and they received an excellent meet from sophomore Elijah Saddlemire, who claimed the 1,000 in a time of 2:43.87 and helped the 4x200 relay team of junior Connor Guilfoyle, Schiller, and Isble place second in 1:39.92.

The Sentinels also received strong contributions from their throwers. In the shot put, senior John Golato won the event with a throw of 45 feet, 9 3/4 inches and senior Zander Semerjian took second with a 37-foot-1 throw, and in the 25-pound weight, Golato, junior Alex Leboeuf (who also placed fifth in the shot), and Semerjian swept the fourth through sixth places.

“The weight guys really stepped up and came through,” Kurbec said. “That’s a bunch of points there that helped.”

The Sentinels also picked up some points in the jumping events. In the high jump, sophomore Jeremy Knobel placed third with a 5-foot-6 leap, and in the long jump, Antunes placed fourth and Isble was sixth.

Smithfield also received a second-place finish from its 4x800 relay team of juniors Unwana Okokon, Aiden Powers, Tyler Rose, and Dante DiGregorio, which posted a time of 9:16.17; a third place from Isble in the 55-meter dash (7.03 seconds), and fourth places from senior Ethan Maione in the 3,000 (9:57.13) and sophomore Eric Basile in the 55-meter hurdles (9.75 seconds).

“A lot of guys in other events did great things,” Kurbec noted. “I think we had 19 or 20 guys in different events today, which helped us. They stepped up, especially when we lost those maybe 14 or 15 points we would have gotten from (Padula).”

In the girls’ Small Schools meet, Smithfield entered the day as the defending champion, but Westerly, which took fourth place in last season’s Medium Schools meet, took home the title with 87 points, nine more than second-place Bay View Academy.

SRA placed third with 52 points and Smithfield came in fourth with 45, but head coach John Marchand was very happy with his team’s performance.

“It was a great year,” he noted. “It was one of my favorite indoor seasons since I’ve been coaching. The team had great attendance everyday, and they showed up, worked hard, and did everything we asked them to do all year. And we had a lot of good performances today. We have a young team, so we’re excited about the future.”

The Sentinels scored 18 points in the long jump, as sophomore Lauren Boyd won the event with a leap of 16 7 1/2 and senior Sophia Harrison placed second in 15-5.

Smithfield also saw two of its relay teams grab third places. The 4x200 team of senior Ariel Roberts and sophomores Sela Bastajian, Isabella Orybkiewicz, and Boyd posted a time of 2:00.70, and the 4x800 team of juniors Emily Rawlinson and Marissa McDonough, sophomore Sophie Owen, and freshman Julia Cavanagh had a time of 12:08.54.

“It was great to see both relay teams (finish in the) top three to earn All-Class (honors),” Marchand said.

Harrison also finished in a tie for third place in the high jump with a 4-foot-6 leap, and placing fourth was senior Ariel Roberts in the 55-meter dash (10.28 seconds).

Marchand also highlighted his throwers, especially Shannon Holmes, a sophomore, who finished fifth in both the 20-pound weight throw and shot put.

Earlier in the day, Ponaganset participated in the boys’ Class B and girls’ Medium Schools championship meets. The Chieftains were led by junior Rachel Morin, who placed third in the girls’ high jump with a 4-foot-10 leap, and freshman Jeremy Roe, who took sixth place in the 3,000 in 9:58.01.

The Sentinels and Chieftains will be back at the PCTA this weekend at the ‘Last Chance’ qualifier on Friday night, the junior varsity state championship meet on Saturday, and the freshman state meet on Sunday afternoon. The state championship meet is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27.