RI Outdoor T&F Preview: Boys' Sprint Events

There's no question the shortest events on the track belong to Central, a team that came seven points from winning its first state crown this past winter on the strength of its speed. The Knights have the potential to score at least 80 points  in the three individual events (100m, 200m, 400m) and the two relays (4x200m, 4x400m).

But it's not all about Central when figuring on podium placements at the State Meet as several other talented speedsters should figure in the mix and could break up the Knights' party up front.

Beginning with the 100m dash, the top three finishers from last year's State Meet are all coming back - Central's Donatien Djero, La Salle's Sam Coleman and Central's Dametrius O'Connor. All three had exceptional winter seasons, so we're not expecting anything different this time around. Djero, who captured the individual title with electronically-timed best of 10.81, would have to be considered the favorite. He won his second straight 55m crown during the indoor season and has proven over the last few years to be tough to beat against RI competition. But the one key competitor that could create headaches for Djero in this event is Coleman. Coleman just finished off his best season on the indoor surface where he was second and just inches behind Djero at the State Meet and was a runner-up for 60m at the New England Championship where he broke the meet record, along with two-time winner Mark Doyley (Weaver, CT), with a time of 6.35. At the Outdoor State Meet, Coleman was the only other sprinter besides Djero to break 11 seconds with a PR of 10.86, just .05 behind the Knight standout. O'Conner, Hendricken's Kwity Paye, La Salle's Brandon Brown and the Knights' Austin Wolo are all capable of running times in the low 11-second range, possibly faster.

The 200m race should prove equally exciting with again Djero the runner to beat. He won the State Meet last year with an FAT best of 21.71 and ran "sub 22" at the New Balance Nationals a few weeks ago. Djero also established a state mark for 300m when he  placed third at the New England meet with a time of 34.48, more than a second faster than he ran in 2016. The state record of 21.17 is certainly a time that is within reach of Djero with the right kind of race. The Knights swept the top three placements in this event at the State Meet with Wolo and O'Connor finished second and third, respectively. That's a scenario that could play out again at the June 3 meet. Among others, it would appear that Coleman has the best shot to prevent a sweep from happening.The La Salle sprinter, who also plays lacrosse during the spring campaign, was fourth at last year's meet. Paye and Brown have to be considered possible top-6 finishers, too.

Wolo will be aiming for a repeat performance in the 400m. Last year he won his first state crown with a PR of 48.27 at the championship meet. He was also third in the event last month at the Eastern States Championship where he clocked an indoor best of 49.27. Unfortunately, Wolo tore a muscle in his leg while running a courageous anchor for the Knights' 4x200m relay at the New Balance Nationals a few weeks ago. His final leg still enabled Central to advance to the finals, but it will keep him sidelined until late April. The Knights will be keeping their fingers crossed that everything heals nicely and one of their top runners is able to regain his championship form come the most important part of the season in June. Some other competitors that are capable of breaking 50 seconds and challenging up front are Hendricken's Harry Antone and East Greenwich's Cebastian Gentil to name a few.