Sheridan Wilbur and Eliza Rego have been part of several state team titles in cross country and track. But prior to this past Saturday's R.I. Track & Field Championships, neither of the La Salle Academy runners had attained an individual crown
Those long, overdue honors were rightly earned this weekend. Not to mention, an unprecedented ninth consecutive team championship, too.
The gifted duo took care of the distance events with Wilbur capturing the 3,000-meter run and Rego bringing home a pair of gold medals in the 1,500m and 1,000m, lifting La Salle to a convincing 105-58 win over second-place Hope High, whose star sprinter Quashira McInosh added four more state crowns to her never-ending list.
For La Salle head coach Dave Wright and assistant Kelly Martin, the thrill of another banner to hang at the school's gymnasium never gets old.
“It's always exciting to win a state title," Martin said. “It's never easy. You have to have your best day."
Rego, a runner-up six times in individual competition at the state meet level, finally was able to experience the joy of crossing the line first, and she did it twice. The Ram standout coasted to an easy win in the 1,500m where she was timed in 4 minutes, 42.06 seconds. She earned title No. 2 by establishing a state-meet record of 2:54.76. Finishing second in both events was junior teammate Karina Tavares with times of 4:45.77 and 3:00.94, respectively.
Wilbur convincingly won the 3K, finishing nearly a half a lap ahead of second-place finisher, Bethany Nunnery of North Kingstown, with a time of 10:17.90. She also was third in the 1,000m at 3:01.76.
“They worked hard all season to put it together," Martin said. “Sheridan looked great in the 3,000 and bounced back and looked amazing in the 1,000 with a time of 3:01. Eliza, lights out in the 1,500 and bounces back with a 2:54 in the 1,000. Incredible day for both of them."
It wasn't just a two-person show for La Salle. Tavares collected 16 points with her two runner-up finishes. Star sprinter Stephanie DiTraglia placed second in both sprints with PR times of 7.27 for the 55m dash and 42.37 for the 300m. She also ran a leg on the school's second-place 4x200m (1:46.95) and 4x400m (4:08.22) relays. Among other high placements, La Salle also won the meet-opening 4x800m (9:48.72).
Wright, who has been at the helm through all the championships, was confident in this year's squad.
“If the kids came in and did what they've been doing we knew we would have a good day and score a lot of points," he said. “That was really the focus…and consistency."
As usual, the state meet produced more stellar performances for the Blue Wave's McIntosh. For the third straight year, she was a double-winner for 55m (7.11) and 300m (41.16). She also anchored the school's 4x200m (1:43.60) and 4x400m (4:03.39) relay squads.
In the 55m dash, she tied a meet record that she shares with former teammate and multiple all-stater Royal Cheatham.
“That, to me, is my funniest race because I tied in my sophomore year," McIntosh said. “It's funny because I just keeping running it. I know I can run faster because I did 7.09. That's a state record. Hopefully I can do better in outdoor."
Classical senior Alva Hicks also won two individual titles with career best of 57-6.5 in the 20-pound weight and 41-0.5 in the shot put. Classical junior Lysah Russell was second in the weight at 52-6.5.
Hicks currently ranks No. 5 in the country in the weight. She is hoping to eventually crack the 60-foot barrier, targeting the New England Weight Throw Championships next week or the New Balance National Outdoor Championships in mid-March.
“Today it was a milestone," she said. “I hit 57 (feet). I was aiming for 60 (feet). It didn't come today. I am aiming for 60 (feet) at New England's or nationals."
In the long jump, Cumberland junior Meaghan Scullin defended her title with a leap of 17-9.26. Coventry's Charleen Theroux was second at 17-1.5 and Smithfield's Stephanie Mattson was third, also at 17-1.5.
Narragansett senior Carly Timpson continued her dominance in the high jump with a leap of 5-4. Timpson was last year's indoor and outdoor titlists. She's now focused on winning a NE title on Friday at Boston's Reggie Lewis Athletic Center. She has a best of 5-6, which she did twice this season.
“I definitely want to go higher. I think there are a few girls that have done 5-6 right now," Timpson said. “I am the only one who has jumped it more than once. I want to go higher. I want to better myself."
Classical junior May Stern had to fend off a pair of underclassmen to win the 600m with a PB of 1:38.22. North Kingstown sophomore Katarina Ho was second at 1:40.13 and Westerly freshman Randi Burr was third in 1:40.17.
Toll Gate senior Erika Pena copped her first individual title, winning the 55m hurdles with a best of 8.64. She was just ahead of Classical junior Krysan Davidson, who was second in 8.78.