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WOOD RIVER JCT.‚ÄĒOver the past few years the Chariho boys outdoor track team has been both the hunter and the hunted.
Last season the Chargers were without their top runner, Mike Marsella, and fell just three points short of a second consecutive outdoor title.
This spring Chariho will likely be tailing the leaders heading into the championship meets but with a good kick could find itself in position to sneak into the conversation as potential state champions.
Obviously the RIIL Outdoor Track State Championships are a long ways away and it‚Äôs too early to tell exactly what each team has but North Kingstown appears to be the early favorite.
The Skippers were the surprise winners at outdoor states last season and return all but one scorer from that championship team.
‚ÄúNorth I think is a strong team,‚ÄĚ Chariho coach Bill Haberek says. ‚Äú[NK coach] Charlie [Breagy] keeps saying that he‚Äôs got the depth and stuff and we don‚Äôt seem to have a much different team from indoor.‚ÄĚ
Classical and Hendricken were head and shoulders above
of the competition during the indoor track season and will also be contenders at states.
That being said, there is no clear cut favorite and the Chargers have the star power in seniors Bryce Kelley and Jake Kilcoyne to put Chariho in the mix.
After Kilcoyne and Kelley, however, is where things get interesting for the Chargers.
Chariho has a significant amount of depth but no one else with quite the same point scoring ability as its top two.
If the Chargers are going to succeed they are going to need a number of competitors from that second tier to step up.
Juniors Alden Andrea, Joe DiPalma, Matt Drummond, Stephen Gencarelli, Zach Gardell, Max Leatham and Andrew Sardelli, sophomores Jung Kim and Matt Tierney and seniors Ryan Banker and Chris Clarkin are all viable candidates to do just that.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a really good group,‚ÄĚ Haberek says. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just going to see if we can get a little more out of them.‚ÄĚ
Another factor will be whether or not junior Kyle Kirby elects to pull double duty, as he is a member of the baseball team but was also Chariho‚Äôs top jumper during the indoor track season.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre talking to him about trying to do some jumping,‚ÄĚ Haberek says. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs on the eligibility list, he just hasn‚Äôt had a chance to get over to practice. With Kyle that would obviously be a shot in the arm.‚ÄĚ
As for the girls team, coach Diane Leith-Doucett is taking things slow with her young team after Tuesday‚Äôs season opener with Coventry and West Warwick.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really early,‚ÄĚ Leith-Doucett says, ‚Äúbut I saw some really good performances out of our kids.‚ÄĚ
The Chargers have just two seniors ‚Äď Abby Dandurand and Liz Hansen ‚Äď and of the 29 girls on their roster 17 are underclassmen.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a real young team,‚ÄĚ Leith-Doucett says. ‚ÄúIt was great to see some standout performances this early from some of those underclassmen.‚ÄĚ
Competing with much deeper teams like of Coventry, Westerly, South and North Kingstown is not likely a realistic possibility for the Chargers but they should find themselves in the mix on an individual level.
Hansen and Dandurand have been consistent point scorers throughout their careers, while junior Delaney Silvestri has a chance to be a medalist at states in the shorter distances.
Sophomore Isabel Baker had strong seasons during cross country and indoors, while junior Katerina Irwin is the team‚Äôs top thrower.
The big question for the Chargers is with their younger athletes and how they develop as they learn the idiosyncrasies of competition.
Freshmen Jamie Dobson, Pam Lelli, Allegra Migliaccio and Grace Vargo-Willeford, as well as sophomores Arin Demers and Rhiannon Wilson each have the potential to be significant contributors down the line.