Ani Armenakyan’s successes in high school track and field came to fruition on Thursday morning, when the Toll Gate senior signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic endeavors at the nearby University of Rhode Island.
She made her commitment official during a ceremony alongside her sister Voski, a sophomore at Toll Gate, coaches and friends in the Titans’ gymnasium.
“Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to stay close to home,” Armenakyan said. “I love working with my sister, I love my coaches. URI was always one of the biggest options for me. My parents wanted me to go there. I love the school, I love the coaching, and now that I’m making it real, it feels awesome. I get to compete another four years in college in the sport I love doing the most. I’m close to home and I love it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Armenakyan still has this spring’s outdoor season left but, in her first three and a half years, she has proven to be a special talent. She will leave Toll Gate as the school’s record holder in the indoor shot put, breaking a mark that held up for nearly 20 years. Armenakyan has also been named All-State twice and has captured seven class championships in the shot put for indoor and outdoor combined. Furthermore, she has qualified for the New Balance Indoor National Meet three times for the weight throw, and Armenakyan is also nationally ranked in the hammer throw.
“She’s really developed and her upside is incredibly high,” Toll Gate weights coach Keith Johnston said of Armenakyan. “She’s shown a lot of dedication, particularly from the start of the fall up until now. I think she’ll really blossom at URI.”
“It’s always nice to have an athlete, after four years of hard work and dedication, to have it pay off,” Toll Gate coach Tom Doyle said. “She’s done very well for us. She broke the school record that stood for almost 20 years, which is a legit school record. Some of the school records we have aren’t, but that was.”
Armenakyan joined the team as a freshman, and it didn’t take more than a few indoor meets for the coaching staff to realize that it had a talent with a great deal of potential.
“There was a meet her freshman year in indoor, it was probably the second of third meet, where she threw and myself and the other coach Norm (Bouthillier) looked at each other and said, ‘Yup, she’s going to be good,’” Doyle said. “For a kid to pick it up as quickly as she did, we knew she was going to be great.”
Armenakyan drew interest from some other Division I and Division II institutions, but she ultimately decided that nothing stacked up to URI.
Between the campus, athletic opportunity and proximity to home, becoming a Ram simply made sense.
“After stepping on to the URI campus and talking to the coaches, I knew that was going to be my choice,” Armenakyan said.
Before heading to URI, Armenakyan should make a run at capturing the outdoor shot put title in June, but she’s not setting any specific expectations for herself in the coming months.
“I’m not keeping any numbers in mind,” Armenakyan said of her outdoor season. “I’m just going to work on my footwork and technique, and wherever I get is wherever I get. My dreams are already fulfilled going to a university that I love and being able to compete, so wherever it takes me, that’s where I’ll be.”
Doyle is confident that Armenakyan will only continue to improve when she gets to URI’s campus in the fall.
“I’m very excited for what she’s going to do,” Doyle said. “I think being at school with a great lifting program, I think she’s going to take off.”