WARWICK – In its long history, Bishop Hendricken has lost just two league meets on the outdoor surface. Both those defeats came to Classical, including a nail-biter last year that was determined by less than a point.
It was also this same Purple squad that made the Hawks sweat it out until the final few events of the indoor state meet this past winter before winning their 26th team title.
There was no question that Monday’s Central Division showdown between the two powerhouses had all the makings of a classic, down-to-the-wire affair. To no one’s surprise, that’s exactly what transpired on a sunny afternoon as host Hendricken relied on some key placements in the final few events to pull out a close 83-71 decision.
“We got this thing going in outdoor track with Hendricken. Since their existence, they have only lost two dual meets and it’s been to us – last year and 2008. It came down to a point and a half a point. Today was another one of those days,” Classical coach Bob Palazzo said. “I thought that we had a good enough team that we could give them a run, and we did.”
Just like he was during the indoor states with a huge win in the long jump, sophomore Lee Moses was a big contributor down the stretch for the Hawks, winning the 200-meter dash with the state’s fastest clocking of 22.2 seconds and then anchoring the first-place 4x400 relay just 20-minutes later with an equally-quick time of 51.4.
Earlier in the meet, Moses also claimed the long jump at 21-feet even and anchored the second-place 4x100 squad that combined for the No. 2 time in the state of 43.5, just a tenth of a second behind R.I. leader Classical.
“The funny thing about Lee is he wasn’t even on our varsity team last year. He was a non-factor,” said Hendricken assistant coach James Lourenco. “He had some flashes outdoors. He qualified in the 200. He qualified in the long (jump). He was on our 4x100. Now, this year, he is indispensable. You couldn’t have our team without him right now. The thing with Lee Moses is you just have to decide where do you use him. He is good at everything he does.”
While the efforts of Moses certainly helped, he was not the only reason Hendricken was able to hold off a very good Classical team, one the Hawks will more than likely have to contend with for the state crown in early June. Hendricken swept all the distance events with senior Connor Doyle leading a 1-2-3 finish in the 800 with a time of 2:05.9, junior Colin Tierney breezing to a win in the 1,500 at 4:19.5 and senior Greg Beaudette claiming the 3,000 at 9:38.2 to edge teammates Grant Gauthier (second, 9:38.4) and Jack Rossi (third, 9:38.9).
The Hawks also posted a sweep in the hammer with senior Matt Casbarro tossing a personal best of 181-6. In a meet where every point counts, Hendricken got some crucial points from senior Brendan McNamara in the pole vault (second, 10-0), sophomore Ben Murphy in the high jump (second, 5-10) and the triple jump (second, 38-3), junior John Cute in the 200 (third, 23.1) and sophomore Power Kanga in multiple events.
Kanga placed second in the 100 at 11.2, ran a leg on both relay squads and also finished third in the triple jump, an event he learned the day of the meet.
“He has never triple jumped in his life and he jumped (35-9.5),” Lourenco said. “There are all kinds of hidden points in a meet like this. We taught him the triple jump on the fly. It was like, “Here’s how you triple jump.’”
“As expected, we knew our distance runners would be okay. We swept the 3,000. We swept the 1,500. We swept the 800. There were no surprises there,” Hendricken coach Jim Doyle said. “We got hurt a little in the 400. They are very strong in the 400. We thought we’d get a point and we got wiped out. We were a little bit down then. Our guys were just off today. The 200, though, Lee Moses came up big by winning that.”
And with a blistering anchor on the victorious 4x400 relay of Kanga (54.2), senior Matt Lombardi (53.6), and junior Ian MacLeod (54.4) that posted a time of 3:33.47. The Hendricken coaches didn’t hesitate to put Moses on the relay. The tenth-grader got the baton behind Rapossa on the final exchange and bolted to the front coming down the final straightaway.
“We saw how well he ran in the 200. He was doing well in all his events today. If he looked off in the 200 we probably wouldn’t have made that decision. We thought go with the hot hand,” Lourenco said. “On his fourth event of the day I didn’t think he was going to run 51 (seconds). But when I saw the race developing and saw that he was running off of Rapossa and right behind him, I said if he passes him he is going to run a great time. Basically Rob dragged him along to the fastest time he has ever run. That was a big thing.”
Junior Adul Lateff captured three individual events for Classical. He was first in the high jump with a leap of 6-0. He also broke the tape in the 300 hurdles with a 42.6 effort and took gold in the triple jump with a distance of 40-4.75. Lateff collected 18 points for the afternoon by also placing second in the long jump at 20-11.5.
The Purple’s Derek Jackson, the indoor 55-meter champion, won the 100 with a solid time of 10.9. The talented senior was also second in the 400 and 200 with times of 52.4 and 23.0, respectively.
“You can’t say enough about Derek Jackson of Classical,” Lourenco said. “He comes back after finishing second in the 400 and runs the 200 and also gets second.”
“He should be the state meet MVP. There is no two ways about it,” Palazzo said. “That’s going to be all up to him and how hard he works. That’s all I am going to say about that.”
Robert Rapossa, a senior, led a 1-2-3 finish in the 400 for Classical by taking the event at 52.7. He also defeated sophomore teammate Christian Pichardo in the 110 hurdles by running 16.4 to Pichardo’s 17.0.
Octavio Teixeira won the pole vault for Classical with a height of 10-0 and Tom Valois was first in the discus with a heave of 139-5.
“We did leave points out there,” Palazzo admitted. “We weren’t perfect. I think our field guys could have done a little better. I’ll pick on my throwers first. (Hendricken is) tough. To me there is no greater example of who has the best team. Other than dual meet competition, head-to-head that’s it.”
The Classical coach does believe his team has a chance to return the favor with a win over Hendricken and some of the other top contenders at the state meet in a couple of months.
“The kids are really hungry,” he said. “We are trying to develop things that we didn’t have indoors. It kind of leans in our favor a little bit with (more) field events. I would like to believe that we are going to be in the mix, but today was a tough one.”