NBNI Preview: Championship Relay Events

It looks like Rhode Island will be represented by more than a half a dozen relays teams at this weekend's New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships in New York City.

Who are these teams and how well do we think they'll do at the Big Apple?

It looks as though two-time defending titlist La Salle Academy will not be going for a three-peat in the girls' 4xMile Relay. Instead, the Rams will be on the track with a talented Distance Medley Relay that features senior Alyson Walsh and junior teammates Emily Kane, Grace Connolly and Sydney Boulanger. With this foursome, the Rams appear capable of clocking a time around 12 minutes. Kane recently ran a PR of 4:59 for the mile at the New England's and Connolly has done 4:44 for 1,500m. Boulanger is capable of a low 60-second 400m leg and Walsh owns a best of 2:25 for 800m. The Rams will be among 16 teams in the seeded section. The second heat, an unseeded section, will feature a very-gifted Portsmouth quartet that will include junior Mariana McManus and the sophomore trio of Olive Allen, Elizabeth Sullivan and Nikki Merrill, the recent New England mile and 600m winner. The Patriots will more than likely have to win their heat to sneak into the top six and an All-American placement. We think it will happen.  It looks as though Sullivan and Merrill will finish off this relay with the 800m and mile legs, respectively. Allen, a 5:03 1,500m runner, and McManus, a low 60-second quarter-miler, should keep the Patriots competitive in this heat. If they are up with the leaders at that point, Sullivan and Merrill should be able to finish the deal. Sullivan did a PR of 3:02 for the 1,000m at the State Meet, which means she's capable of a low 2:20, possibly faster, for the 800m. Merrill has proven multiple times this season that she's tough to beat when in contention. She's coming off a best of 4:56 for the mile, a race she won in impressive fashion at the New England's.

Portsmouth will also have a quartet in the 4xMile with Sullivan, Merrill, Allen and Sofia White. Judging by top times from each member of this squad, a time around 20:15-20:20 is not too far-fetched. Can they run faster? Possibly. Keep in mind, last year's La Salle squad won with a 20:11 clocking.

In the boys' events, Central will have teams in the 4x200m and 4x400m relays. The Knights best chance for a podium finish is in the 4x200m where they currently rank No. 8 with their state record of 1:29.04 from the Armory Track Invitational in early February. To place in a meet of this magnitude, Central will probably have to break 1:28, a time it is certainly capable of doing at The Armory. That foursome will consist of Donatien Djero, Dametrius O'Connor, Jones Mallay and Austin Wolo. Djero, O'Connor, Wolo and Anthony Vega will toe the line in the 4x400m where they own a best of 3:21.87 (US #12), the state-record time they established to win the Eastern State Championships on Feb. 28.

Bishop Hendricken will have two teams in the Championship events. The Hawks are entered in the Sprint Medley and the 4x55m hurdles. Hendricken earned its qualifier in the SMR by finishing fourth at the North Shore Invitational at The Armory on Feb. 25 with a time of 3:36.12 (US #12). The foursome will consist of Desmond Bernal, Russell White, Robert Merlino and Harry Antone. The hurdle squad will include Ethan Famiano and Joseph Santos, who were 2-3 at the recent State Meet with sub eight-second clockings. Also on the quartet is Michael Bittner and Oluwaseum Filaoye, who are both capable of a time in the mid eight-second range.