The Bishop Hendricken cross country team took home a 4th-place finish at the Nike National Meet in Portland, Oregon over the weekend.
When thinking about what this means for Hendricken, Rhode Island, and high school sports in general, I have a flurry of thoughts and ideas and to present them in an organized fashion would be tough … so bear with me through this column as I hit on a number of disjointed topics.
When talking to coach Dan Brennan last week regarding the event, he made it very clear that the Hawks were aiming for a top-10 finish … 22 of the nation’s top schools would be competing, and to aim for a first-place finish may have been simply too much to put on the kids.
Although the Hawks did not win, they certainly turned heads on the country’s biggest stage. Not only did the Hawks exceed their own expectations … they exceeded the entire country’s.
Considering Rhode Island’s geographic size as well as its population, its understandable why its sports scene is sometimes overlooked. But considering the number of talented athletes that have come out of the 401, especially over the last decade across various sports, this small community seems poised to turn that narrative around.
The 2018 Hawks are just another example of an elite group of athletes that have come from the Ocean State.
Only 22 teams in the country were even invited to compete in Oregon. That means that less than half of the United States were represented. For Hendricken to even be invited was an accomplishment, but to go on to finish in the top-5? That is simply ridiculous.
It also makes me wonder why there are not more national competitions.
I don’t think it would be possible for football. If you take the top 20 teams in the country, 90 percent would come from a mix of Texas, California and Florida. Teams in New England unfortunately would have trouble against football-crazy states like that.
With such a physical sport, I just don’t think it would be safe for certain teams to face each other, even if both are champions of their respective states.
However, take baseball for example. Although some states are baseball powerhouses, player safety isn’t a concern like football is, and there are nationally-ranked teams throughout the country. Once the standard high school season ends and the 50 state champions are crowned, it would be awesome to see a panel of some sort narrow down the top 20 teams and have them compete.
Overall though, this Hendricken team made history over the weekend. The 2018 Hawks now have grounds to say that they are the best club to ever come out of Hendricken, the best club to ever come out of the Rhode Island, and one of the best all-around programs in the country.