PROVIDENCE — A standout runner at St. Raphael Academy in the early 1990s, SRA head coach Chris Magill likes to talk about “bringing back the glory days” of the late ’80s and his time at Walcott Street School.
And while the Saints haven’t won a national indoor track and field title since 1994, they’ve done some really good things over the past few years, like winning a pair of Class C titles, watching some of their runners know success on regional and national levels, and earlier this month placed second at the RIIL Freshman Championships.
Last Saturday afternoon, the Saints enjoyed plenty of glory in the state championship game. Not only did they sweep the four middle and long distance events behind their standout juniors, Devan Kipyego and Pedro Mayol, but they finished third in the team standings for their best finish since their 1994 march to their championship.
The Saints, who scored 41 points, behind 76 from La Salle Academy and 65 from Bishop Hendricken, saw Kipyego sweep the 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 meters, making him the third runner in RIIL history to accomplish this feat.
And none of the three races was easy. Every fraction of a second counted for the Gatorade RI cross-country racer of the year, who had to fend off Henry Dennen senior of Cumberland High to win the 3000 and Kaden Kluth senior of Portsmouth High in his next two races.
In order to win the 3000m, Kipyego needed to fight a three-way battle over the final six laps with Dennen and Adam Thibodeau senior de La Salle, who actually held a brief lead with three laps to go before Kipyego and Dennen battled it out. at the end.
Thanks to a solid final lap, Kipyego was able to cross the finish line in a time of 8:37.64 which crushed Dennen by 0.48 of a second. Thibodeau was third in 8:43.67.
Kipyego’s next two wins were real nail biters. He won the 1,500 in 4:03.38 which edged Kluth by 0.1 seconds, then the 1,000 in 2:34.61 to pinch Kluth by 0.19 seconds.
Mayol, meanwhile, also had to do his best to grab the 600, as he crossed the finish line in a time of 1:23.50 that crushed La Salle senior Lachlan Bishop by 0, 13 seconds. Only 1.94 seconds separated Mayol from fourth place.
Kipyego and Mayol also had some spare to help the Saints’ 4×400 relay team to sixth in the final race of the afternoon. That team, which also included seniors Jack Pereira and Josh Farrell, clocked 3:37.46, just 1.62 seconds off second.
Pereira also placed eighth in the 1,500m in 4:10.19 for the Saints, who entered the competition without two of their top athletes in the field events, junior jumper Ethan McCann-Carter, who recently broke a school record in the long jump with a jump of 21 feet, 11 inches and junior shot putter Moses Meus. The two athletes, who are also All-State football players for the Saints, were in Las Vegas last weekend for a 7-on-7 tournament.
In the girls’ meet, senior Elizabeth Murphy took fifth in the high jump with a jump of 4-foot-8, second Gemma D’Orazio was sixth in the shot put with a throw of 33-1¼, and her classmate, Chandaniey Boyce, placed ninth in the 1,500 m in 5:11.37.
A handful of SRA athletes will be back in action at the New England Championships, which are scheduled for Saturday, March 5 at the Reggie Lewis Track Center in Roxbury, Mass. The Saints will also send athletes to the New Balance National Championships next month. at the Armory in New York.