Jim Doyle had it all set.
Prior to the Knights of Columbus Four-Mile Relays on Saturday, the Bishop Hendricken coach had his No. 1 team leading off with multiple all-stater Colin Tierney. The plan was to have the senior distance ace establish a good lead at the beginning and force the other squads to play catch-up against his Hawks.
But Tierney and his teammates figured a different order might make more sense, an order that would use the Columbia-bound runner as the anchor.
“We just wanted our guys to stay with someone to run off,” Tierney said. “With an open track and an awful backwind, the plan was to just have someone to run with and I’ll anchor in and hopefully go for the win.”
After staking their case, Doyle decided to let his team make the decision.
“I heard them chitter-chattering and saying we want to do this,” Doyle said.“(Assistant coach Dan Brennan) and I talked it over and we just said, ‘Okay, if they lose we’ll blame it on them.’”
There was no blame on this particular day.
With an explosive 4:23 leg, Tierney made up a more than nine-second gap over front-running La Salle Academy to lead his team to victory in the Division I race. The quartet of sophomore Avery Ingegneri, junior Grant Gauthier and junior Michael Potter finished with a combined effort of 18 minutes, 22.87 seconds. La Salle secured second at 18:25.96.
The Rams were anchored by freshman standout D.J. Principe, who ran a fast 4:35 split. Tierney patiently gained ground once he got the baton and passed Principe with about 250 meters remaining.
“I told (Colin) before he got the baton, you guys dug yourself in a hole now you got to make it up,” Doyle said. “But that’s the way Colin Tierney is. He knows what it takes to win and to his credit he went out and ran a methodical race. He didn’t go out too hard, he went out in 64 (seconds for the first 400 meters). He tried to make some up and run a reasonable race.”
The times posted by the two powerhouses were the fastest of the afternoon. In the Div. II race, Barrington won convincingly with the squad of Lucas Beldsoe, Krishnam Boniaz, Marcus Safrenek and Sam Somera timed in 20:11.90. West Warwick was a runner-up at 21:41.52. East Greenwich was an impressive winner in the Div. III race with the foursome of Garrett Scanlon, Tommy Sommer, Angelo Acker and Graham Chapski finishing at 18:40.87, the third best clocking of the day.
In Div. I, La Salle was without some of its top runners, including indoor mile champion Jack Salisbury. But the Rams still had a quality foursome on the track with a legit anchor in Principe.
Tierney knew what he had to do to insure a victory for the Hawks.
“I was just listening to my coach and my dad was on the backstretch saying you’re going faster than him so keep it up and you’ll probably get him. People were shouting out splits and telling me how behind I was. I didn’t really think about that,” he said. “I was trying to stay in my head because it was a long gap so I didn’t want to look at him and say I can’t catch him or I will catch him and if I didn’t I would just blow up. I just kind of stayed in my own race and I ended up catching him.”
For a season-opening meet, Tierney’s mile time is impressive to say the least.
“We didn’t taper down for this race, just because it’s not a very big meet,” the Hawk runner said. “It’s not a state-meet qualifier, it’s kind of like a good competition, a fun meet to come out and compete so we didn’t cut down the mileage or anything. We did as many workouts as we do in a week. I mean, a 4:23, I am very happy with that.”
“I can’t remember too many guys that have done that,” Doyle said. “On this particular day, it’s windy, it’s cold. I can’t remember too many guys that I have had that have done that. I remember a few guys in the 4:20s, but I can’t remember anyone ever running 4:23.”
Bishop Feehan of Attleboro and La Salle dominated the girls’ Division I race, occupying nine of the top 10 placements. Feehan’s ‘A’ squad of Elizabeth Hannon, Kayte Svensen, Bryanna Harum and Cumberland resident Abbie McNulty took gold with a time of 21:30.14. La Salle’s top foursome of Caroline Falvey, Cianna Lynch, Sheridan Wilbur and Eliza Rego was second with a 21:46.18 clocking.
East Greenwich snagged the No. 1 spot in Div. II with Thedia Pederson, Phoebe Osterhout, Emily Browne and Margaret McCafferey winning by nearly a minute with a time of 23:15.65. Holyoke Catholic of Massachusetts was second at 24:13.96.
For La Salle, it was Wilbur’s first race back since a nagging hip injury sidelined her from the entire indoor track season. The junior standout, a multiple all-stater in track and cross country, ran the third leg for the Rams and was timed in 5:30.
“With it being her first race back we wanted to keep her at a certain pace. We didn’t want her to go out too, too fast,” said La Salle assistant coach Kelly Martin. “She hit a really good time, 5:30. That’s not bad for her first race. She was more reserved during the course of the race.”
Rego anchored the Rams with a 5:13 mile and Falvey and Lynch also had solid legs.
“Eliza Rego ran absolutely amazing,” Martin said. “She knew she wasn’t going to be able to get the Feehan girl. She kind of just hung back a little bit. We had two other girls that filled in there because we were missing Karina (Tavares) and Alicia DeCastro. Caroline Falvey did an amazing job and Cianna Lynch ran really well filling in.”
As usual, Martin has high hopes for her Rams this spring. Last year, La Salle finished second to Classical at the outdoor state meet.
“We’d like to see if we can go for a state title,” Martin said. “We know it’s going to be tough because we obviously have to battle (Classical’s) Maddy Berkson. Basically we want to get PRs and at the end of the season see where we lie and with the New England’s and the Nationals the same weekend, we’ll make a choice as a team. Hopefully we are in contention to do big things.”