Girls Rhode Island Outdoor State Championships Recap

Photo @RhodeAndTrack


Photos by @RhodeAndTrack


On Sunday the state of Rhode Island gathered at Conley Stadium for the 2023 Rhode Island Interscholastic League Outdoor Track and Field state meet. With 21 events to be contested on each side, the team title came down to two sprint powerhouses: the Cranston West Falcons and the West Warwick Wizards. Comparing these two sides, you would think they had athletes across the sprints and distance, throws and jumps. However, while twelve athletes from Cranston West were entered twenty-four times throughout the meet, the Wizards only had five athletes qualify for the meet. This is the interesting part: those five athletes were to compete in twelve events. Specifically sophomore Xenia Raye and her freshman sister Lisa Raye were entered in seven events and were slated to finish top three in all seven. The might of the Falcons versus just these two underclassmen, and any extra points their three remaining teammates could provide. Truly a David vs. Goliath story. As the rain came and went throughout the day, the cold and wind remained. This forced athletes to adapt and adjust as they sought PRs, points, and to become the next Rhode Island state champion in their respective events.  

The day opened with the girl's 4x800 following the boy's 4x800 this year. Cumberland, the overwhelming favorite, put in their A-squad to take home the win. As they said in their post-race interview, their goal for every leg was to "Start as fast as we could" and to "push from the front" as each leg got the baton. This was executed perfectly as with each leg, the gap from first to second grew as Cumberland won with a 9:42.59 while South Kingstown took second in 9:51.67. Moses Brown took third in 9:58.27. The 4x100 quickly followed, no pun intended. There, the favorites Cranston West took home their second consecutive title in 48.97. Cranston followed in 49.39 and East Providence took third in 50.83. West struck first with 10 on the board while West Warwick's duo had yet to begin their day.  

In the 1500, Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown opened her day against defending champion Rylee Shunney of East Greenwich. Shunney took it out as Gorriaran sat on her right shoulder for 1250 meters before shifting gears to run a 65 final lap to win in 4:35.24 to 4:38.35 for Shunney. Rory Sullivan of Saint Raphael's runs a big PR for third in 4:41.13.  

With the conclusion of the 1500, the Raye sisters sprung into action. After preliminary runs of the 100 meters for both sisters and 100-meter hurdles for Lisa Raye, the finals commenced. Here, Lisa Raye took off and never looked back to win her first outdoor state title in 12.23. Her sister Xenia nearly kicked down Ailani Sutherland of Cranston West, the defending state champion, but finished 12.49 to 12.50. Sprint times were slow due to the wind and rain as the meet measured -3.0 during the 100-meter dash. Sutherland's teammate Praise Mayson scored one point for eight. The new score was Wizards 16, Cranston West 21. Next came the quickest double in the sport of track and field. With less than ten minutes rest Lisa Raye won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.87 and a -1.6 wind measurement! She won by over 1.5 seconds to break 15 for the first time. This added another ten points to their total while Cameron Saleh of North Kingstown took second and Reece Vitale of Cranston West kept the Falcons ahead by one: Wizards 26, Cranston West 27.  

Now the 400 meters came up and it was time for Xenia Raye to shine. She came in with the second-best seed in the state after Gorriaran, but after her scratch her 58.79 was firmly the best in the state. With conditions not the best, many expected a time over 60 seconds to take the win, especially with Raye still running the 200 later in the meet. However, as Raye later told me, she went in with a game plan for the first time and it produced over a one-second personal best of 57.77. Sydney Haik finished second for Westerly in 59.55 and Zaida Depina of Cumberland scored 6 points to keep the Clippers in a close third. The 300-meter hurdles saw Lisa Raye win her third event of the day, and PR in 44.08! This moves her up to #2 all-time in the event with only Molly Reilly of South Kingstown ahead of her when she ran a 43.91 at the state meet in 2010. Sierra Thompson of South Kingstown finished second while Emily Brown of Ponagansett took third.  

The 800 was once again the Sophia Gorriaran show as she soloed a 60.62, 65.89 to run 2:06.52 to set a new meet record dating back set back in 2005. If she was in the boy's race, she would have finished 14th overall. Defending state champion Gracee Carr of Cumberland racked up eight points for the clippers while Caroline Cummings of La Salle finished 3rd for six points. 

The 200-meter dash once again saw the matchup between the Raye sisters and Sutherland. Sutherland was the defending champion and needed the points for the Falcons. Lisa Raye, however, was business as usual on her fourth event to take the win and the quadruple crown as only a freshman. She ran 24.95 with -3.0 wind, and her sister Xenia Raye powered in for second in 25.55. Sutherland settled for third and six points compared to the 18 earned by the Raye sisters to finish the day. This ended the day for West Warwick with 64 points on the track. The Falcons still had the 4x400 meter relay and field events to bridge the gap from their 31 points.  

The 3000 saw Erin VonHousen of Chariho cap off her season with a huge PR of 10:05.31 as Shunney of East Greenwich lost contact with 1k to go before charging down the final stretch to finish just a second behind in 10:06.76. Kiley Defusco doubled back from the relay to place 3rd and set a new school record for the Clippers and 4x800 meter relay teammate Rose Tuomisto placed 7th. The Clippers quietly amassed their points in many track events to stay in contention with Cranston West.  

Before recapping the 4x400, the field events were occurring simultaneously and helped to shake up the points. In the discus, Suraily Sam of Bay View was the favorite, however, Alyssa Yankee of Cumberland won and scored yet another ten points for the Clippers. Second went to Sam of Bay View and Rachel Federico of Westerly took third. In the shot put, Yankee was the favorite, but Sam traded spots to take the win, throwing 39-0.75 over Yankee's 38-9. Sam Rosenfield of Cranston West took six points home to help her team and Classical's Gifty Bediako scored five for fourth.

The javelin thrower Samantha Ledger from North Smithfield had yet to win an invite this season, but that all changed today. With a PR throw of 110-0, she took the win over Polina Wright of North Kingstown and Maia Riccio of Cranston West. Harmony Forrest of Classical logged a seventh-place finish as the purple continued to trail in fourth place. The hammer throw, one of the must-watch events of the day, saw Jillian Leahy of Lincoln batting with Adelaide Caron of Woonsocket. The two schools are known for their throwers, but Leahy would prevail with nearly a new personal best of 167-0 while Caron only threw 153-11. Kylee Bennett of Narragansett took third with a 153-4 and Classical and Cranston West picked up four and two points respectively in fifth and seventh.  

In the long jump, Dasani Stewart of Pilgrim won by an inch with a jump of 17-7.50 over Lauren Boyd of Smithfield with a 17-6.50 jump. Cumberland's Brianna Landry and Grace Bleyer placed fourth and sixth for another eight points for the Clippers as they moved into the top three. Similar faces scored in the triple jump with Stewart winning again in 37-3 while freshman Nini Olawuyi of Exeter-West Greenwich jumped 35-4.50 and Barrington's Sophia Ford took third in 35-2.50. Boyd finished fourth, and Bleyer and Landry took sixth and eighth respectively as their point totals continued to grow while Cranston West found just two points in seventh and two more in ninth and tenth just missing out.

The pole vault saw La Salle's Moran Correira and Ellie Noonan of Barrington tie to go into a jump off. To quote La Salle Coach James Lourenco, "Ellie and Morgan both received a 4th attempt at 10'6" and missed. The bar went down to 10'3 where they were each given one attempt and missed. Then down to 10', then 9' 9" where both athletes cleared. It was then raised to 10' where they both cleared, back up to 10' 3" where they missed, and then finally back to 10' where Morgan cleared and Ellie missed. Morgan and Ellie both showed a lot of poise throughout the competition. There simply is nothing more exciting in track and field than a jump-off, you live and die with every attempt.

The 4x400 meter relay capped off the track events, as well as the Sophia Gorriaran, show as she got the baton in first for Moses Brown before dropping a blistering 54.98 anchor leg to seal the victory in 4:02.08. Over eight seconds back were Westerly in 4:10.12 and Classical was third in 4:10.37. Cranston West and Cumberland took 6th and 7th to add to their point totals. After the 200-meter dash, West Warwick had clinched the title with 67 points. However, the battle for second saw the Clippers ahead by eight points with 56 to Cranston West's 48 and Classical in third with 46. As the relays finished, and a huge surge the final leg for Classical gave them the six points needed to jump the Falcons for third place. Cumberland's two points secured their win while West's three points had them settle for fourth. This was the best finish by the Clippers in decades, as well as the first title ever for West Warwick. Asking the Raye sisters if they believed this was ever possible, they alluded to maybe their senior year, but never this early in their high school careers. With the bar now set, it looks like Lisa and Xenia Raye will be dominating the state for years to come.  

Congrats to all those who competed and good luck to those who move on to New England's and nationals.