Hawks rise to occasion with 14 out of commission athletes

Freshman Ryan Rocheleau competing in last weekend’s meet.

Britney Dixon, Sports Manager

After a tough start to the season, the Roger Williams University men’s and women’s track and field teams knew the fight was going to be fierce heading towards the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championships.

With only two weeks to go, the Hawks traveled to New London, Connecticut last weekend for their largest invitational of the season: the Silfen Invitational hosted by Connecticut College. One of 19 teams present, RWU set out to break personal records, not meet records.

The season started slow with one meet canceled and another rescheduled, but the Hawks did not let these unexpected hurdles shake them. Practices were intense, and their hard work shined through the men’s first place win at the Eastern Connecticut State University Invitational and fourth place win at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Corsair Classic. The women reciprocated the energy, finishing third and second at the two meets, respectively.

Their hot streak started to fade the week of the Silfen Invitational when the distance squad lost four members — sophomore Sarah Mawdsley, freshman Maya Kreidwise, junior Ryan Gilligan, and senior Kevin McManus — due to injury/illness. The sprinters were also down five athletes — freshmen Noah Lautenschlager, Shannon Duffy, and Samantha Deenihan, as well as sophomore Colleen Mooney and junior Andrew Curran — and the throwing/jumping crew lost their top javelin-high jump athlete, junior Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath.

Seniors Makayla D’Urso (distance) and Nicholas Malone (distance), freshman PJ Doyle (throws) and sophomores Asia Carter-Lamb (sprints) and Theo Sarette (sprints) all competed with recent setbacks.

The Hawks knew they had to step up in their teammates’ absences, and as the pressure increased, so did the motivation.

At Connecticut College, overall, RWU produced 35 personal bests across the team. Sixteen of these records came from the throw/jump group that resulted in their event coach, Chris Cicchinelli, doing 320 push-ups throughout the day — 20 per athlete.

“I have 24 people on my part of the team and out of the 22 that competed, there were 17 [personal bests]. That’s pretty motivating, isn’t it?” Cicchinelli said.

For athletes not on Cicchinelli’s practice squad, Head Coach Sean Livingston has been awarding RWU Hawks socks for every personal record.

Personal records occurred in the following events:

100-meter dash: freshman Ava Ricciardi (13.38)

200-meter dash: junior Liam Tracey (23.36)

400-meter run: freshman Jason Fontaine (53.93)

800-meter run: season’s bests from sophomore Kyle Wrynn (2:05.51), junior Nick Sasso (2:09.72), senior Andrei Safontchik (2:05.94)

5000-meter run: freshmen Ryan Rocheleau (18:02.57), Colin Herschlag (17:05.89), Connor Hayden (16:39.69), Tyler Marchioni (16:44.66), and Emmaline Mason (21:46.64)

100-meter hurdles: freshman Madison Fancher (17.70)

400-meter hurdles: Fancher (1:12.84), freshmen Olivia Franco (1:14.06), and Tory Stoddard (1:10.00)

4×100-meter relay: season’s best from the team of Ricciardi, Stoddard, and sophomores Katie Romanovicz and Lauren Stone (53.62)

High jump: freshman Siobhan Mitchell qualified for New Englands (1.54m)

Pole vault: freshman Chris Malles (3.20m), season’s best from sophomore Noah Hysong (3.95m)

Triple jump: freshman Sam Quaye (12.10m), junior Sean Tetrault (10.66m)

Shot put: junior Mason Saunders (10.70m), freshman Maggie Morgenstern (8.40m), freshmen Kristen Norray (9.44m), and Madelyn Malieswski (9.18m)

Discus: Tetrault (30.14m)

Hammer: Saunders (26.60m), junior Ben Joly (28.29m), Malles (23.74m), freshman Kyle Rector (24.06m), Norray (26.15m), freshman Theresa Cerullo (27.77m)

Javelin: Doyle (49.70m), Quaye (40.32m)

All three coaches were extremely impressed with the work their athletes put in this past weekend, considering all circumstances.

For some athletes, the records were slight, but still enough to have Cicchinelli dropping for 20. For others, like Rocheleau, the improvements were huge. Rocheleau’s new record in the 5000-meter run is 23 seconds faster than his high school time.

“I was even feeling good until about the second mile,” Rocheleau said. “I knew the competition was tough, but I just ran for me.”

With only two meets left in the regular season, the Hawks know that the energy needs to continue to increase through to CCCs. The women have lost the past two years to Salve Regina University — last year, by only half a point — and the men are looking to take back their title from Nichols College.

Before the scram for which events they’ll be competing in that weekend, RWU must first get through the Sean Collier Invitational hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This meet is non-scoring, which means the Hawks will set out for more personal victories, push ups, and socks. There’s just under a week until the fight for the title, but every single day and every single practice counts.