Portsmouth High girls shine in state track championships

Team comes in 2nd with 3 individual wins, record relay performance

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PROVIDENCE — The Portsmouth High School girls’ varsity track team capped off its stellar system Saturday by taking second place in the state track and field championships at Brown University in Providence.

The Patriots were runners-up to Westerly and notched first-place finishes in several different events including the 800- and 1,500-meter runs, the 4x800-meter relay and the discus throw.

Portsmouth’s standout sophomore, Nikki Merrill, had another big day, winning both the 1,500 and 800 meters and running a leg on the victorious 4x800 relay.

“I’ve been looking forward to this race the entire season,” Merrill said after the 1,500 race. “This meet is really what our entire team has been working towards for the past three months, so its really exciting to come out here and do well individually. But also, our team is doing really well, so that’s really exciting.”

The 4x800-meter relay team set the tone for the day, kicking off the events by setting a new school record with a time of 9 minutes, 22.17 seconds.

“We have been doing well in that event all season but today we PR’d (personal record) by 25 seconds and everyone on the team ran a personal record for their split, so that was really amazing,” Merrill said.

Patriots junior Brianna Shablom won the discuss throw with a best toss of 128 feet, 1 inch.

PHS boys place 9th

The Portsmouth boy’s team placed ninth overall and got good performances out of senior Colt Nichols, who finished first in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the 110-meter hurdles.

PHS junior Martin Lasky took fourth place in the pole vault.

Representing Mt. Hope

Meghan Oliver, a sophomore from Mt. Hope High School in Bristol, was the only girl from her school competing at the meet. 

“It’s a lot of pressure at the same time but still I like it I love track and I think next year we will have more people come to states,” Oliver said.

She finished third in the long jump, fifth in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the 300-meter hurdles.

“That’s really good, but I expect more from myself and hopefully that will give me motivation for next year,” Oliver said.

Barrington girls take 6th

The Barrington girl’s team placed sixth overall behind junior Katie Zitzmann, who took third in the 800-meter run and fourth in the 1,500-meter run, as well as fourth in the 4x100-meter relay and sixth in the 4x400-meter. 

In the hammer throw, third- and fourth-place finishes by junior Faith Polando and sophomore Annika Kelly, respectfully, also bolstered Barrington’s chances.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.