Rao’s number one in the nation

Rao’s number one in the nation

PHS senior breaks state record, unleashes country’s best throw in weight at Medium Schools championship meet

PROVIDENCE – It took quite a bit of time, but Ponaganset High senior weight thrower Gianna Rao finally surpassed the 60-foot mark at last Saturday afternoon’s Medium Schools indoor track and field championship meet at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house.

And the Penn State-bound standout didn’t just break the mark, she obliterated it.

Not only did Rao’s throw of 63 feet, two inches overwhelm the rest of the field by nearly nine feet, but she also set a state record, shattering the 10-year-old mark (held by former Classical star Victoria Flowers) by a full foot.

And that’s not all. Rao, who was ranked third in the nation in the weight with a throw of 59-7, is now the country’s number one thrower. Javon Joyner, a senior at Norcross High School in Norcross, Ga., had been tops in the U.S. at 60-5¼.

Locally, that was the highlight of the day, which also saw the Smithfield High girls’ team place fourth in that night’s Small Schools meet with 58 points, 16 coming from senior Una Treanor, who finished second in the 1,000 (3:16.05) and 1,500 (5:01.97) meters.

Grace Beaudry also accounted for 14 points by capturing the 55-meter dash (7.67 seconds) and taking fourth place in the 55-meter hurdles (9.6 seconds). Aimee Tucker finished second in the high jump (4-8), Kendra Ezeama took third in the shot put (37-4½) and fifth in the weight throw, and Anna Orticerio was also fourth in the weight (40-6¾).

On the boys’ side, Smithfield and Ponaganset competed in the Class C meet, and the best local finish came from Sentinels senior Alec Devine, who took third in the 1,500 (4:23.58) and fifth in the 1,000. Mason Walmsley also finished fourth in the shot put (41-5) and fifth in the weight.

The RIIL Championships are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, at the PCTA facility. Rao is the defending state and New England champion in the weight, and she won last year’s state title with a throw of 60-2.