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While some kids have been on spring break this week, a few schools in Rhode Island made the two-hour trek to William H. Hall high school for the Connecticut Distance Festival. Featuring just 2 events, the mile, and 5000m, there were a total of 27 heats of the boys and girls mile and 4 total heats of the 5k. A total of 645 runners were in this meet with the boy's mile bolstering over half of the total participants at 346. Rhode Island was in full force with 7 top 5 finishes across the four events.
In the boy's mile, Devan Kipyego of Saint Raphael's showed he meant business from the gun. The 4-time state champion made a statement opening his first quarter in a blistering 61 seconds. He followed that with a 63-lap splitting 2:04 at 809. His third lap saw another fast lap with a 62 to be at 4:06 at the bell lap. The final lap saw Kipyego begin to look human as he ran his slowest lap of the day at a 67. He still finished with a respectable 4:13.81. After the race, Kipyego hoped some of the top regional talents would be in the champion section of the mile like Connecticut's own Sherry brothers, Aidan Puffer, or James Donahue of Massachusetts who was in the 5k later that night. His goal was to work together with these runners to help push everyone to a better time. Although he only ran 4:13, Kipyego still has big goals this season. He hopes to break the 3k steeple record at the Glenn Loucks games owned by current UMass Lowell standout and former Cumberland runner Ben Drezek. He also hopes to take the 2k steeple record he had missed by less than a second last spring. With the improvements Kipyego has made over the past year, there is no doubt he can smash these times. Next weekend, he and his teammates will head to the Penn Relays for the DMR with a goal of a top 6 finish. Who knows, maybe Kipyego can anchor their team to win the title like his Coach, Chris Magill, did not too long ago. Also placing well was Evan McGreggor of Bishop Hendricken in 4th with a time of 4:20.44, and Pedro Mayol of Saint Raphael's rounding out the top 5 with a 4:21.76.
In the girl's mile, 2x state champion Caroline Cummings of La Salle faced some of the best in New England after finishing 3rd at New England's in the mile indoors. Also in this heat was Cumberland's Grace Carr. She qualified for the New Balance mile earlier this year and recently earned a top 3 placement in the 800 at Nike Nationals. Cummings went out in 2:32 the first 809 sitting in 3rd while Carr was in 9th at 2:33. The two would go on to run identical last 800s of 2:33 to finish 6th and 7th respectively. Emmy Belvin of Mount Saint Charles had a big day running a PR of 5:27 for the mile and breaking her school record as well.
In the boys 5000, Bishop Hendricken dominated all three heats. Junior Aaron Sullivan ran nearly a 90-second PR to win heat one in 17:15.42. Heat two saw two sub 16 performances from sophomore Will Olsen and freshmen Jack Moretta. They ran 15:47.56 and 15:54.33 respectively. As a freshman, Moretta continues his breakout season with massive PR's from 1000 to 5000 with this latest race arguably his most impressive yet. In the championship section, three Hawks and one Purple took the line against some of the Northeast's best. Troy Silvestri went out in 3:01 the first k and did not look back as he led the charge of the chase pack picking off the runners the whole time. He would go on to run a 15:15.84 for 7th, a top ten time in school history. Also running very well was Cooper Michaud of Classical. His first k of 3:03 set the tone as he ran with Silvestri a majority of the race until the final k. He ran 15:22.41 to place 10th overall. Josh Breard of Bishop Hendricken finished just behind Michaud in 15:22.74. Wilson Jablonski placed 16th in 15:38.
Rhode Island's first state qualifying invitational is next weekend with the Classical Classic taking place next Saturday. Some of the states best will travel to Penn Relays as well for the three-day meet. Good luck to all those competing!