R.I. athletes could shine brightly the final day

The New Balance Nationals has already had a number of special performances by R.I. athletes the past two days.

The final day of competition should be no different.

Classical High senior Marthaline Cooper will be looking to bring home the state’s first gold medal in the championship events on Sunday when she steps inside the hammer circle. She’s the No. 1 ranked athlete in that event with a best of 178 feet, 7 inches, nearly six-feet further than her closest rival. The competition is set to begin at 11 a.m.

The 800-meter run will also be a treat for Rhode Islanders with three of their top middle-distance stars competing in separate heats. In Heat 1, Barrington junior Abby Livingston will be aiming for a sub-2:10 clocking. She has already done that time twice as an anchor for the Eagles’ 4x800-meter relay, leading her team to the New England Championship and to a second-place finish at the NBNO on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how fast Livingston can run without a baton in her hand. Her best in a relay is 2:08.

In Heat 3, Bay View Academy senior Erica Johnson will compete in her final competition as a high-schooler. She ran a best of 2:10 at the NE meet last week and will more than likely be shooting for a win in her heat with another PR performance.

The final group of runners on the track in Heat 4 will feature Classical junior Maddy Berkson. Berkson has been peaking just in time for a prime showing on track & field’s biggest stage. She goes into the race with a season best of 2:09.9, a time she ran to win the unseeded heat of the New England’s. In that race, Berkson ran solo the entire two laps, sizzling to an opening 400 split of 61 seconds.

If the Classical star can keep her pace under control against a field that includes NBNI champion Sabrina Southerland of Benjamin Cardozo (N.Y.), there’s a chance she could have a podium finish. Her best is 2:06, a time that got her third at the indoor nationals. The first race in the 800 is set to begin at 4:20 p.m.

An hour later, starting at 5:20 p.m., La Salle Academy’s foursome of freshman Eliza Rego, junior Alicia Decastro, junior Caroline Falvey and sophomore Sheridan Wilbur, who comprised the third-place 4x800 squad, will be toeing the line for the distance medley relay. All four runners are capable of turning in some fast splits for a potential strong finish against the nation’s best.

This is just a sampling of what's in store today. It should be fun!

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