McLoughlin places fourth, CHS teams finish in top 10 at RIIL Championships

McLoughlin places fourth, CHS teams finish in top 10 at RIIL Championships

Cumberland High sophomore Bailee Brown earned a spot in Saturday’s New England Championship by taking 24th place in the girls’ race in a time of 20:13.74.
Local runners fare well at state cross country meet

GLOCESTER – Of the 15 high schools who sent both boys’ and girls cross country teams to Sunday afternoon’s RIIL Championships at Ponaganset High, it was tough to find anyone fielding a younger group of runners than Cumberland.

The boys’ team sent a squad to the starting line that had two seniors and five underclassmen, four of whom never raced in the state’s biggest meet of the season, and the girls’ squad had just one junior and no seniors among its seven runners.

And while the future looks bright for both teams, the present wasn’t too bad on Sunday.

Neither team placed in the top six nor earned a berth in Saturday’s New England Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H., but the boys finished ninth out of 16 teams with 267 points – a nice jump from their 15th-place effort from a season ago – and the girls took 10th place out of 19 schools with 304.

Individally, the best local finish came from a Cumberland runner – from La Salle Academy. Sophomore Jack McLoughlin earned First-Team All-State honors by taking fourth place out of 147 runners in a time of 15:49.89, as he sat behind the three runners who jockeyed for the lead in the final mile, senior teammate and eventual state champion Joe dosReis (15:38.26), Bishop Hendricken’s Jack McMahon (15:40.54), and North Kingstown’s Sam Toolin (15:40.71).

While McLoughlin will join his teammates at Saturday’s 84th annual meet, Cumberland sophomore Bailee Brown will be running as an independent, thanks to her 24th-place finish of 20:13.74 in the girls’ race. She edged the next finisher, Chariho’s Anna LaCroix, by 0.17 of a second.

The only other runner to place in the top 40 was Cumberland senior Dan Collard in the boys’ race, as he finished 34th in a time of 17:15.76. Freshman Henry Dennen also took 48th place in 17:30.88, but the next two CHS runners to cross the finish line were senior Michael Swerdlow, who was 68th in 17:53.12, and freshman Ethan Carpenter, who placed 72nd in 17:56.66.

“We had a few goals going in,” said first-year boys’ coach Kerrie Carpenter. “We met one of them – to obviously do better than last year – and we certainly accomplished that. The second goal was more individually-based, specifically with times and where we were capable of running, and that obviously did not get met.”

“But one thing’s for sure, we’re absolutely not afraid of failure,” she continued. “We know that will drive us to be better, and we know that’s what we’re going to need in order to accomplish bigger things. These guys are strong and resilient; we know that we’re going to have success and we’re going to have failure and we’re okay with that. It’s not easy, but we take it on.”

As for the girls’ team, only two other runners were able to crack the top 70. Sophomore Olivia Belt, who got off to a strong start, struggled a bit toward the end of her race and ended up in 67th place in 21:52.89, and freshman Chloe Jacinto placed 69th in 21:58.19.

“Bailee ran a very good race today,” said girls’ coach Vanessa Molloy. “Olivia, I’m surprised she finished. At the bottom of the hill, she was as white as a ghost. Today just wasn’t her day. But then the other girls all ran true to form. They had great days; it’s just that this year, that wasn’t good enough.”

“We’re a young team,” added Molloy. “We had one junior who was our sixth runner, and our top five scorers were freshmen and sophomores. It’s good for the future. They went out there and fought, so I can’t ask for anything more.”

Also running in the girls’ race was Blackstone Valley Prep freshman Lucy Noris, who became the first runner in her school’s brief history to compete at the state meet. She placed 44th in 21:03.20.

“Lucy ran a really brave race,” said head coach Tom Leger. “She had a plan and she went out really hard, like she wanted to be in the mix. I think there were a little bit of nerves and jitters, but once she started running, she really stuck to her plan and ran strong, and she almost ran the same time that she ran last week (at the Class C meet). I’m really proud of her. She has a ton of talent and she’s really excited about this sport.”

The Lincoln boys’ team, as well as three members of the girls’ squad, also competed. The boys, who placed 17th, were led by juniors Nick Gaitanis, who took 49th place in 17:31.45, and Chris Lezon, who was 80th in 18:03.86, while for the girls, sophomore Riley Specht (62nd, 21:35.28), junior Abbey O’Hern (68th, 21:55.16), an freshman Carson Cole (72nd, 22:06.84) finished in the top 75.

Cumberland native and La Salle Academy sophomore Jack McLoughlin earned First-Team All-State honors at Sunday afternoon’s RIIL Championship by placing fourth in the boys’ race in a time of 15:49.89. McLoughlin and the Rams will take part in the New England Championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H. (Breeze photo by Eric Benevides)
Left, junior Nick Gaitanis was the Lincoln High boys’ team top finisher. He placed 49th in a time of 17:31.45. Right, Blackstone Valley Prep freshman Lucy Noris, left, runs alongside Smithfield junior Ashlyn Maio in the woods during the first mile of Sunday’s girls’ race. The first runner in her school’s brief history to run in the state meet, Noris placed 44th in a time of 21:03.20. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)