With just four participants, the Mt. Hope High School girls indoor track team won the first-ever freshman indoor track state championship on Monday night.
The Mt. Hope High School girls indoor track team won the first-ever freshman indoor track state championship at the Providence Career and Technical Academy on Monday night. Two distance runners, a sprinter and a high jumper accumulated 53 points to take first place over Smithfield who placed second with 49 points and Portsmouth who finished third with 48 points. Jessica Deal, Thea Jackson, Ryan Coffey and Chloe Carreiro were phenomenal in their combined 14 events and were humble after competing against teams from all over the state.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Deal said after the meet. “I joined cross country in sixth grade. I honestly didn’t enjoy it that much. I went out in seventh grade and started doing really well. It’s amazing that I went from not liking running to being able to do this. And it feels really nice to be able to do it with my team.”
“It feels amazing. I’m so proud of them,” said Huskies head coach Renae Cicchinelli, who has coach at Mt. Hope for three years. “They worked so hard at the meet and at practice. It’s nice to see them get the win and the accolades for it. It feels so good.”
Coach Cicchinelli had coached at Roger Williams University before coming to Mt. Hope. Her assistant coaches are Liam Connors and Chad O’Neil, all who were there to help the girls and cheer them on.
Deal, a distance runner, won two individual state championships and placed second in another. The tall soft-spoken Deal ran an unprecedented four distance races in three hours and scored 28 points for the Huskies. She began the night by taking gold in the 3000-meter run with a time of 11:35.29. Deal led start to finish and upped her speed down the back stretch to thwart a challenger. The freshman then dueled Cumberland’s Charli McCue in the 1500 meter run. Deal raced around McCue with two laps to go and outlasted her to take her second gold medal of the night with a time of 5:04.07.
“Jess is a strong, strong runner,” said Coach Cicchinelli. “She recovers quickly and gives it her all, but knows her limit too. Though, I don’t think we’ve found her limit yet.”
Jess is a great runner,” said Jackson of her teammate. “With me in the sprints and her running distance, it really helps our team out. It’s good that we’ll be running together for the next four years. We’ll be able to get some points for the team.”
Meanwhile Jackson, a sprinter, tallied 17 points and battled a rival of her own in West Warwick’s Lisa Raye, in the 55-meter hurdles, 55-meter run and the long jump.
“Lisa is a really great runner,” Jackson said of her rival. “She pushes me to run better. I had a couple of PRs today. I like to think that the other people in my heat played a part in that. So I think that it’s good that we have that little rivalry there.”
Raye won both the hurdles and sprint. Jackson placed fourth in the hurdles with a time of 10.08 seconds, placed second in the 55-meter run with a time of 7.56 seconds and placed fifth in the long jump with a personal best leap of 15 feet 10 inches.
High jumper Ryan Coffey leaped 4 feet, 6 inches to place fourth. She also ran the 1000-meter run with Deal.
“Every single one of them put everything they had into today,” Coach Cicchinelli said.
“It was really just a team effort,” Coffey said. “You have to step outside your comfort zone to achieve things like this. I am grateful that the team was willing to do it. It made it so much better.”
Towards the end of the meet, Deal squared off against McCue in yet another showdown in the 1000-meter run. Deal sprinted off the start line and led most of the way. McCue started her kick early with two laps to go and passed her. Deal couldn’t catch her this time and settled for second place.
Directly after the race, Mt. Hope was called to race in the first heat of the 4x400 relay, which ran back to back with the 1000. Deal, the team’s first runner, had just come off the track and was catching her breath. Coach Cicchinelli asked if she needed more time, but the lion-hearted Deal endured and took off in a sprint at the sound of the gun.
“I’m not really a sprinter, but we needed all four of us to be in that relay,” Deal said. “We just went out and did it.”
She ran well, but fell to third place as she handed off the baton to Coffey, who also just ran the 1000. She and distance runner Chloe Carreiro needed to keep the race close for Jackson running the last leg. Carreiro, who ran the 3000 and the 600-meter runs, made up ground. Jackson running the last leg, dashed around the track and took second place for their heat. The 4x400 team placed sixth overall with a school record breaking time of 5:00.05. The previous mark had been 5:08.
After the event the girls celebrated on the track with coaches, family, their medals and the championship trophy.
“It was so monumental because we only had four freshmen,” Coach Cicchinelli said. “The other teams have so many more. They knew what they were coming in to. Every one of them wanted to be put out there in every event that they could in order to win it. It says a lot. I’m super proud.”
Indoor track class championship results
The girls indoor track team placed seventh in the medium class with 44 points during the RIIL class championships on Saturday. The team’s freshmen used the meet to prepare for the freshman state meet on Monday night.
Jess Deal placed second in the 3000 meter-run with a time of 10:35. Thea Jackson placed second in 55-meter run with a time of 7.53 and second in the long jump and fourth in the 55-meter hurdles.
Emma Serbst placed eighth in the 600-meter run. Karsyn Medeiros placed seventh in the 300-meter run. Hannah Rezendes placed eighth in the 55-meter run. The 4x200 relay team of Kali Rocha, Hannah Rezendes, Thea Jackson and Karen Medeiros placed third. The 4x400 team of Chloe Correiro, Karsyn Medeiros, Emma Serbst and Claudia Green placed eighth. The 4x800 relay team of Chloe Correiro, Emma Serbst, Scarlett Drawbridge and Claudia Green placed eighth.
Ryan Coffey placed third in the high jump and Kali Rocha placed fifth in the high jump.