Locals compete in class championships

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The high school cross country class championships were held on Sunday at Ponaganset High School.

Olaitan Olagundoye led the Lady Panthers with a 47th-place finish Shahmeer Jamil finished 105th for the boys, while teammate Alex Tum finished right behind him 106.

Many other teams made noise, including the Class A boys winner Bishop Hendricken, who is also ranked fourth in the country. The Pilgrim girls qualified for next week’s state meet, and Tyler Robbio qualified individually for the Patriots.

Although the Hawks are enjoying one of their best seasons in program history, coach Jim Doyle has tried to keep things in perspective for his surging club.

“A few weeks ago, we were at the Eastern States meet against some of the best teams in the country. We ended up winning the Eastern States Championship and are currently ranked fourth in the nation. This is certainly one of our better teams, but I always tell the boys that rankings mean nothing,” said Carroll.

The Hawks are the heavy favorite to claim next week’s state championship at Ponaganset, and Doyle is confident in his group, especially its senior leaders.

“We’re on to the Class A State Championship, it’s one week at a time. They’re very mentally prepared, they know what they have to do. Last week we beat La Salle who is also nationally ranked and next week we are going to have to run as a group and do it again,” said Doyle. “Our team is led by seniors this year with some underclassmen who are running well. We have great senior leadership (leading us).”

Pilgrim boys coach Scott Bayha was excited to see Robbio’s strong performance, going toe to toe with some of the state’s top runners.

“Tyler Robbio is super dedicated, unbelievably dedicated. Double sessions every day, once after school and one at night. At the first mile it was seven Hendricken kids, seven La Salle kids and Tyler. Everyone was saying, ‘who is that flying?’ which was pretty cool. We didn’t qualify as a team so he had to qualify individually, he’s shooting for an all-state finish next week. I can’t tell you how hard he’s worked,” said Bayha.

Although the Patriot boys failed to qualify as a unit, Bayha believes that they have a bright future ahead of them.

“All of our guys have worked extremely hard this year and all of their times dropped. Tyler has been a great example for them because I think they see him and ask themselves, ‘how much can I run?’ We worked real hard this year,” said Bayha. “We have kids that work their butts off for no glory but for personal pride. We lose Tyler next year but I think we will be an even better team because we’ll also come together as a group.”

Here is a look at some of the top runners:

BOYS

Aidan Tierney took home first place overall for the Hawks, while teammate Jack McMahon finished in second. Luke Henseler took home fourth place for the Hawks, while teammate Matt St. Jean claimed fifth. Hendricken’s Nick Braz claimed seventh place while David DelBonis finished 10th. Matt Rene also added a top-20 finish for Hendricken, placing 18th overall.

Robbio led Pilgrim with a 16th-place finish for the Patriots while Alex White took 41st. Cole Baker led Toll Gate, finishing 48th.

GIRLS

North Kingstown finished in first place as a team in Class A, while La Salle took second place. Pilgrim finished in sixth place as a unit. Portsmouth won the Class B race, while Toll Gate took home 10th place.

Pilgrim’s Ava McCann led the Patriots, finishing at 20th overall. Emmanuelle Degos finished just behind her at 22, while Sofia McCann placed 23. Mollie Cunningham led Toll Gate in the Class B division with a 38th-place finish.

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