Big Day in Big Apple for Rhody

NEW YORK – Rhode Island athletes fared well on Saturday during Day 2 of the New Balance Nationals in New York City.

Highlighting the day at the Armory was a sixth-place, All-American finish by La Salle Academy in the girls’ 4x800-meter relay. The quartet of freshman Eliza Rego, junior Alicia DeCastro, senior Caitlin Marino and sophomore Sheridan Wilbur clocked a nearly 20-second season-best time of 9 minutes, 10.9 seconds.

Davis High of Utah, spurred by a 2:08.6 leg from Shea Martinez, won the race with a nation-leading time of 8:56.57. La Salle was never in contention for the crown, but that wasn’t the intention.

“Our only goal was All-American,” said Wilbur, who ran her anchor in 2:16.62. “I just ran as fast as I could. It wasn’t a personal best, but I think we all did our best. We accomplished our goal.”

From the start, Rego put the Rams in position for a top finish with a sensational 2:15.07 for her leadoff leg. DeCastro and Marino maintained La Salle’s position in sixth with solid legs of 2:18.7 and 2:19.8, respectively.

“I just came out here and raced as fast as I could,” Marino said. “I just went out and did the best I could for the team.”

“When I got the baton I just wanted to hold the pace and set the third leg up in a good position and just keep an eye on the dream of All American,” DeCastro said. “It’s just amazing.”

Rego had a more than four-second PB on her 800 leg.

“It’s probably the atmosphere and running against faster girls,” said the talented frosh on the reason for her PB. “I got a good start so that helped.”

Classical junior Maddy Berkson established a state record in the 400 by placing second in her heat with a time of 56.30. Bay View senior Erica Johnson, who held the old mark of 56.34, placed second in her heat with a 56.82 clocking.

A state record was also set in the 200 with Hope sophomore Quashira McIntosh  breaking her own record with a 24.54 in her qualifying heat.

The Classical boys had a strong effort from its 4x55 shuttle relay squad of junior Ajenis Candelier, junior Adul-lateef Orulebaja, sophomore Cristian Pichardo and senior Robert Raposa. The foursome was timed in 32.10 to place 12th out of 24 schools.

“We had a talented little crew,” said head coach Bob Palazzo. “That doesn’t happen too often when you have four guys that are ranked well in the state. We did some research with Mr. (Larry) Byrne and found out that the Rhode Island shuttle relay is run with high, low and the national hurdles are run high. As far as he could tell there are no records in the books. We came in and figured if we could stand up we would set a record. The kids ran exceptionally well.”

In a loaded field that included a near national record by the winner, Bishop Hendricken combined for an impressive 18:04.23 clocking in the 4x1 mile relay to take 22nd overall.  Comprising the Hawks’ team with their times was senior Connor Doyle (4:34.72), junior Colin Tierney (4:26.2), senior Tyler Henseler  (4:26.8) and senior Alex Doherty (4:36.52). The race was won by Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey with a time of 17:22.67, just a few seconds from the U.S. mark of 17:20.20 set by Chariho Regional at last year’s meet.

“The last few weeks have been tough with the state meet and the New England’s,” Doyle said. “It’s been real tough. We have been training real hard. We all were a little tired it’s been a long season. By what we did today, it showed that we are still strong.”

Tierney ran a PB with his third leg.

“Coming into this season we did a lot of training, a lot of miles. We have had some good workouts,” Tierney said. “We just let it out today.”

Doherty, along with his teammates, agreed that competing in a venue like the Armory aids to fast times.

“This is a great environment,” he said. “When you are running in front of a big crowd, especially for the seniors, it’s a great send-off for college. We are out here having fun.”