EAST PROVIDENCE — First to the starting per the annual winter sports schedule, the East Providence High School boys indoor track and field squad opened up its 2023-24 Metropolitan Division dual …
EAST PROVIDENCE — First to the starting per the annual winter sports schedule, the East Providence High School boys indoor track and field squad opened up its 2023-24 Metropolitan Division dual meet season earlier this week at the competition's hub, the Providence Career & Tech Academy Fieldhouse.
The Townies, under the direction of veteran head coach Bob Lyons assisted by Debbie Bellamy, began the year with a sizable roster of 45 athletes with varying degrees of competency in their respective disciplines.
"I am excited about this team because we have many newcomers and only six seniors, which bodes well for not only the indoor team, but also the outdoor track and field team moving forward," said Lyons.
Three of those six athletes in their final high school years are among the state's better jumpers — Dylan Slavick, Cam Evora, and Kenaz Ochogwu, who briefly moved away from East Providence at the start of the 2023 before returning to the city mid-first quarter. The presence of the 6-foot-4 Ochogwu not only bolsters the indoor track team, but also the EPHS boys' basketball squad, on which he'll also man a key role.
Of his talented trio of jumpers, Lyons said, "All three of those young men should be serious threats to win the high jump at the state meet."
They also form the core of the EPHS long jump group, which also includes junior Kwamahn Gilliard and sophomore newcomer Isaac Braz.
Continuing the theme, Ochogwu, Evora and Gilliard are counted among the strong contingent of Townie sprinters able to run the 55 meter dash and the 200 meters. The rest of the group includes senior Jaidin Ivy; juniors Prayer Gillard, Jietan Ruiz, Lucas Santa Cruz, David Vieira, Zekiah Hopper; sophomore Julius Cortez and freshman Jack Pawlik.
All mentioned are in the mix for the four spots on the 4x200 meter relay of which Lyons said, "The team has a number of sprinters with potential and once things get sorted out the relay should qualify for the state meet."
Staying in the speed events, Vieira and Braz will compete in the 55 meter hurdles as will juniors Nolan Travassos, James Casaamas and Brian Rutkowski along with sophomores Stephane Mardy and Bryan Chuckran-Rivera.
In addition, freshman cross country standout Gerry Gagnon joins the indoor fold and is among those runners in the mix to make up the 4x400 relay along with Ivy, Vieira, Rutkowski, Santa Cruz, core returnee and sophomore Roger Beaudet, junior Diego Araujo and freshman Immanuel Prevete. Lyons expects the eventual 4x4 quartet to be in the state meet qualifying hunt.
Gagnon and Beaudet as well as fellow top fall harriers junior Will Anthony and senior Brayden Rouette lead the EPHS distance runners and potential members of the 4x800 meter relay. Among the others in the distance group are freshmen Gus Belanger and Jayden Caverio; sophomores Ryan Cahoon and Daniel Lukusal; juniors Jacob Liberatore, John Vaughn, Luke Grimley and Gabe Santos.
The Townie throwers, under the tutelage of Bellamy, in the shot put and 25-pound weight toss consist of juniors Michael Precious, Ty Messier, and Logan Xavier.
"I've enjoyed coaching these young men and I look forward to seeing how much they progress throughout the season," Lyons said on the lead to opening night at the PCTA where the Townies faced traditional power LaSalle, Hope High and Juanita Sanchez, the two both of Providence.
The Townies went 5-4 in Metro duals a year ago to finish in fourth place behind undefeated division winner and Class B champ Barrington. One loss LaSalle was second and 7-2 Classical was third. East Providence placed sixth Metro division meet, fifth in Class A and ninth at states. Hendricken, which went unbeaten to win the Suburban regular season, also won its league title as well as the Class A and state crowns.
Led by 2023 graduate Kit Ruddock, the 300 meter indoor state champ and fifth-place finisher in the dash, East Providence earned 17 points at last winter's state championship meet. Slavick earned the other points for the Townies with a solo sixth place result (6 feet, 4 inches) in the high jump. At '23 JV states, all of East Providence points came from the third place run (3:53.76) by Ivy, Beaudet, Santa Cruz and Rutkowski in the 4x4 relay.
Of the aims for the team overall in '23-24, Lyons added, "The realistic goal as it has been the past few years is to have a winning regular season record during the dual meet portion of our season, while finishing in the top five at both the Metropolitan Division and Class A championship meets...The ultimate goal as it always is to win a state championship, but the realistic goal once again this year is to score double digit points and have a few individual champions and All-State athletes."