Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 06-07-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Smithfield Scituate Foster Glocester Edition Sports & Recreation valleybreeze.com @ JUNE 7-13, 2018 PROVIDENCE – After delivering some of the coun- try's best hammer throws over the past few weeks, Ponaganset High senior Gianna Rao hoped to keep the good times rolling at last Saturday afternoon's RIIL Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Brown University. And all eyes were on the defending state and New England champion to see if she could unleash another 187-plus foot throw that would not only break the 16-year-old meet record of 183 feet, six inches, but also the 17-year-old state and New England marks of 189-3. Unfortunately for the Penn State University-bound athlete, only one of her six attempts made it over 180 feet, and not by much. But the good news? Her 180-foot-10 throw was still good enough to capture the state championship by more than 11 feet and give her the fourth RIIL title of her truly exceptional career. "It feels good," Rao said when asked how it felt to be a four-time state champion. "Just like always, I know that my hard work has paid off and it just feel nice. I didn't have the day I wanted to have – every day can't be your best day – but I'm just trying to get my timing down, and once that hap- pens, hopefully that's when a really big throw will come." Rao was a weekend removed from delivering a personal-best throw of 189-1 at the Mount Pleasant Invitational, which is the third-best throw in the country this spring and was just two inches away from breaking the R.I. and New England records. At the Class B meet on May 19 at West Warwick High, Rao also aired out a throw of 187-3, and at the Brian Moretti Invitational on May 5 at Westerly High, she unleashed a throw of 188-1. But last Saturday, Rao couldn't deliver another monstrous throw to delight the fans who swarmed behind the hammer area. She fouled three of her attempts, including her first one, but after delivering a throw of 168-10 on her second attempt, she came through with her 180-10 throw on her third and a 178-8 throw on her fourth. Rao's next closest com- petitor was Barrington junior Annika Kelly, who came into the meet as the nation's fourth-ranked thrower with a PR of 178-10. But only two of Kelly's six throws went over 158 feet, and she ended up placing second with a throw of 169-2. After Classical sophomore Cheyenne Figueroa (167-5) and North Kingstown junior Erynn Field (161-1) took the next two places, Ponaganset senior Megan Cook joined Rao on the awards podium by grabbing fifth place with a throw of 154-2. Next up for Rao and Cook was the New England Hammer Championships that were held on Tuesday afternoon at Mount Pleasant High, and surprisingly, that will be the final high school meet of Rao's career. Rao admitted after Saturday's event that she will skip the New Balance National Outdoor Championships that are scheduled for June 15-17 at the North Carolina AT&T complex in Greensboro, N.C. The five-time All- American took fourth place at last year's meet, but she plans to focus her attention on earning a spot on the U.S. Junior National team that will compete in the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) U20 World Championships from July 10-15 in Tampere, Finland. Rao wins fourth state championship PHS senior rules hammer competition again; Scituate's Croce captures shot put title BREEZE PHOTO BY ERIC BENEVIDES Ponaganset senior GIANNA RAO gets ready to release the hammer during last Saturday afternoon's RIIL Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Brown University. Rao, who will be continuing her athletic career at Penn State University, won the event and became a four-time state champion by unleashing a throw of 180 feet, 10 inches. By ERIC BENEVIDES Breeze & Observer Sports Editor sports@valleybreeze.com See TRACK & FIELD, Page 26 Rachel A. Baboian, Au. D. Doctor of Audiology Licensed Audiologist Today's hearing aids are barely visible, highly effective and easy to afford. Come hear for yourself with a RISK FREE 30-day trial! FREE Hearing Screenings FREE Hearing Aid Checks & Cleanings Just call to schedule an appointment! 401-475-6116 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Building 3, Suite 307, Lincoln, RI www.hearforyouri.com 2766 Hartford Avenue, Johnston, RI 02919 401.934.2547 Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. • Sat. 8 a.m-3 p.m. facebook.com/NSPAINT/ North Scituate Paint & Décor, Inc. It's time for exterior paint jobs!

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