WOOD RIVER JCT. — The 2013-14 Chariho High boys’ indoor track and field team faced a monumental act of following what could be viewed as the “Golden Age” of Charger track.
Led by All-New England runners Mike Marsella and Bryce Kelley from 2011 to 2013, Chariho posted a third-place, fourth-place and the 2012 championship in RIIL state meets from 2011 to 2013. Graduation took its toll this year, and the Chargers scored just four points in the state meet.
And on another down note, Chariho’s 2012 national record in the 4x1-mile relay, which included the graduated Kelley and Marsella, was broken at the NIKE indoor nationals in March.
But coach Keith Croteau’s squad still produced an upbeat campaign, featuring a solid share of postseason performers, an 8-1 dual-meet record and second place in the Southern Division.
“We didn’t expect to compile the points we had in the last few state meets, and we’re a little disappointed at four points in the RIIL meet,” Croteau said. “Overall, though, we’re happy with our dual-meet performance.”
Senior Max Leatham added to his growing list of postseason honors, winning the Class A 55-meter hurdles. Leatham was also a second-team hurdler in the Southern Division.
As a junior last year, Leatham was Class A and Southern Division first team for winning those events and Coaches Association third team by virtue of finishing third in the state meet.
Leatham set a personal record of 8.0 as a junior and wasn’t far off that mark as a senior, hurdling 8.11 in the Southern Division championship meet, 8.1 in the Class A meet and 8.23 in the states.
“Max is very consistent throughout the majority of his races,” Croteau said. “He had an off day in the states, which is unlike him, but one mistake and you’re done in a short hurdle race. He’s more suited to the 110-meter hurdles outdoors because he tends to catch up.”
Senior Stephen Gencarelli also earned first-team honors by winning the Southern Division meet 3,000-meter run in 9:34.7. He was also Southern Division third team in the 1,500. As a junior, Gencarelli was Southern Division third team in the 3,000.
“Stephen had a nice season,” Croteau said. “He was slowed up a bit with a knee issue but ran well in the Southern Division meet.”
Chariho’s 4x400 relay of junior Kahekee Northup, senior Zach Gardell, junior Mitch Carrier and senior Alden Andrea earned Southern Division first team by winning at the divisional meet in 3:38. They finished ninth in the states.
Gardell and Andrea were part of the Chargers’ 4x400 relay in 2013 that earned Coaches Association second team in with a state-meet second-place time of 3:37.02.
“It was a steady relay this season,” Croteau said. “Kahekee is very flexible with enough speed to compete well from 100 to 800. Alden and Mitch are very consistent, and Zach added a distinction of making Academic All-State this year.”
Academic All-State goes to seniors who have participated in the sport for at least three years and are a member of the National Honor Society.
Gardell came off a strong junior season last year when he was Southern Division first team in the 4x800, second team in the 4x400 and Class A second team in the 4x800. Carrier also ran on the Southern Division 4x800 first team and divisional 4x400 second team in 2013.
Jung Kim, Kyle Kirby, Kahekee Northup, Andrea and Carrier are the other Chargers to earn an award in an individual event.
Kim, a junior, was Southern Division second team in the 3,000 and Class A third team in the 1,000. Kirby (high jump) and Carrier (1,500) made the Southern second team. Northup (300) and Andrea (600) made the Southern third team.
As a junior year ago, Kirby earned third-team honors in the high jump for Coaches Association All-State, Class A and Southern Division.
Chargers gained recognition in two other relays — senior Andrew Sardelli, junior Andrew Ferrigno, Carrier and Andrea made Southern second team in the 4x800; and junior Phil Dineen, senior Nick LoPriore, Northup and Gardell earned Southern Division third team in the 4x200.