RI High School Athletics: Newport County MVPs
All times and distances were recorded as another high school running season entered the books. School records were broken and championships secured.
Here are the MVPs for Newport County boys’ and girls’ track and field teams, as selected by the head coaches of those programs:
Jason Hayes, Midtown
Hayes was the Eastern Division champion in both the shot put and discus throw. He was also the Class B champion in the shot put and finished second in the discus throw at that event.
At the state championships, the junior finished third in the discus throw and fourth in the shot put. He will be the state’s top returning pitcher in both events as only the seniors at the states finished ahead of him.
Hayes has a personal best discus throw of 160 feet, 2 inches, which is the second best in school history after 1974 graduate Tim Barrows (163-5).
Kate Cruikshank, Middletown
Newbie, high jumper
Cruikshank captured the Freshman State Championship in the high jump with a jump of 4 feet, 10 inches. She also placed third in the event with a jump of 4-9 at the Class C championship meeting.
She was the only freshman to qualify for the varsity state high jump championships, finishing seventh overall. She will be the fourth-best returning high jumper in the state, with three seniors ahead of her.
Kordell Tate-O’Brien, Rogers
Senior pole vaulter
O’Brien finished his high school career with a personal best of 11 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault at the state championship meeting. He took third place at the event.
Tate-O’Brien was a Class C pole vault champion in his junior and senior seasons and won the Eastern Division pole vault title in his senior year. He will compete for Rhode Island College’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams.
Katy Serth, Rogers
Senior pole vaulter
Serth captured the pole vault in the Class C Championship with a personal best of 8ft, 6in. She jumped 8-3 in the Eastern Division championships and placed third.
“She has an infectious positive attitude, is a determined student and sportsmanship all around,” said Rogers coach Tacia Bryant. “Katy always gives everything on and off the field. She always encourages both her teammates and her competitors to do their best.”
Carlin Phillips, Tiverton
As a newcomer to athletics, Phillips immediately got into the sport. He placed fourth in the long jump at the Class C championship meeting with a jump of 19 feet, 8 inches. He also finished in the top 10 in both the 100 and 200 meters at the same meeting.
“Carlin Phillips has exceptional potential in athletics,” said Tiverton coach John DiGangi. “This season was his first season ever on the track and he’s definitely made a name for himself.”
Ellery Pacheco, Tiverton
Novice, middle distance/distance
Pacheco, also a cross-country runner and basketball player, was close to earning her team points in both the 800 and 1,500 meters at both the Class C championship meet and the Eastern Division championship meet.
In the division event, she placed seventh in the 800 with a time of 2 minutes, 46.55 seconds and eighth in the 1500 with a time of 5:36.33. She improved both of her times at the reunion, where she finished eighth over 800 (2:40.91) and ninth over 1500 (5:27.66).
“Ellery has a bright future ahead of her and it will be exciting to see her grow as an athlete,” said Tiverton coach John DiGangi.
Kaden Kluth, Portsmouth
Senior, middle distance/distance
Kluth, who will compete at American University in cross country and track starting in the fall, leaves Portsmouth as the school record holder for the 800 meters (1 minute, 51.49 seconds), 1,500 (3:56.35) and 3,000 (8:50.3).
He was the New England Champion in the 800 (1:52.48) and finished seventh (1:51.73) in the event at the New Balance National Meeting.
“Kaden was determined to push himself to an elite level at the 800m,” said Portsmouth manager Shaun Horgan. “He worked tirelessly throughout the year and kept improving. It was really gratifying to see that all his efforts paid off with such outstanding performances.”
Morgan Casey, Portsmouth
Junior, high jumper
Casey took up competitive high jumping in the last doubles meeting of the 2021 outdoor season. She won that event and won the Eastern Division title three days later. Next came the Class B crown and that was followed by the state championship.
Last season, Casey set a high jump school record with a jump of 5 feet, 8 inches. She repeated as an outdoor champion in both division and reunions, then went on to win a second straight state championship with another 5-8 performance. The junior won the New England title with a 5-7 vault.
Casey placed seventh at the New Balance National Meeting with another 5-8 performance. It was the only event of the entire season that she did not win. She’s two inches from the state record set by La Salle resident Dakota Daily Harris in 2012 as she enters her senior season in high school.