FOSTER â€“ All season long, Amy Laverty carried Cumberland High on her slender shoulders. Sunday at the Rhode Island High School Cross Country Championships that took place at Ponaganset High, the sophomore was the recipient of a little help from her Clipper teammates.
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The Cumberland girls ended up placing five runners inside the top 50, such a strong showing resulting in a fourth-place finish in the team standings and a coveted spot in next weekendâ€™s New England Championships in Manchester, N.H. As usual, Laverty was the Clippersâ€™ top point getter, finishing eighth with a time of 19:05.
What fueled Cumberlandâ€™s mission to qualify for the regionals were performances from several runners who by and large lurked in the shadows this fall while Laverty dominated the headlines. Without strong showings from junior Meaghan Scullin (16th, 19:36), junior Nichole Barger (26th, 20:06), freshman Julia Dempsey (47th, 21:01) and Hannah Tavares (49th, 21:08), there is no additional week of practice for head coach Joyce Bonnerâ€™s crew.
To clarify, there were several individual competitors whose finish automatically enabled those runners in the team mix to post an even lower number than the one they ended up crossing the finish line with. For example, Cumberlandâ€™s Scullin placed 16th, but she was awarded a 15th-place finish that went toward the team total.
â€śBehind Amy, all of her teammates (posted personal best times). They all did well,â€ť smiled Bonner. â€śMeghan was seeded 22nd and ended up 15th, which is huge. I had a 26th place finisher in Nicole, who was seeded 34th. They all exceeded where they were.â€ť
The eighth-place finish by Laverty meant she missed first team all-state honors by one slot â€“ Barringtonâ€™s Mary Kate Coogan was seventh with a clocking of 19:03. Seeking to distinguish herself from a sea of Barrington and La Salle runners, Laverty hung tough before slipping back into the second tier as she made the turn for home.
â€śIt was painful to get past everyone during the last 100 meters, but Iâ€™m still happy with how I did,â€ť said Laverty. â€śI went out faster than I usually do, but I knew I had to. I tried to keep up that pace all the way through, but this is definitely going to motivate me heading into next year.â€ť
Added Bonner, â€śAmy gave it everything she got. She was right there and should hold her head up high.â€ť
Cumberland finished with 133 team points. La Salle took home team honors with 36 points followed by Barrington (39) and North Kingstown (117). Burrillville ended up 10th in the girlsâ€™ race with 335 points while Lincoln placed 14th with 376 points.
Broncos junior Betsy Dumais ended up 29th (20:16) followed by junior Kaidy Cornell (57th, 21:27) and senior Morgan Allen (65th, 21:38).
â€śIt was a fast race and a lot of good competition, so Iâ€™m proud of this race today,â€ť said Dumais. â€śEveryone ran a solid race. This was Morganâ€™s last race and she did really well.â€ť
Stated Burrillville head coach Marty Crowley, â€śIt was a fitting end to Morganâ€™s high-school career, which is something we talked to the kids about. If youâ€™re going to go out, thatâ€™s how you go out. She ran the race of her life today. We have everyone else back, so hopefully we can learn from this.â€ť
Lincolnâ€™s top finishers were sophomore Sabrina Oliveira (34th, 20:26) and Amanda Lâ€™Esperance (39th, 20:40). Mount St. Charles senior Megan Corbeil ended up 53rd (21:19).
The Cumberland boys will join the Clippers girls in The Granite State next weekend. Head coach Tom Kenwoodâ€™s unit ended up fourth with 148 points. Bishop Hendricken captured its sixth consecutive crown with 37 points followed by La Salle (42) and East Greenwich (74).
Sophomore Sean Laverty was Cumberlandâ€™s top point scorer, finishing 16th with a time of 16:43. Senior Alex Southiere was not that far behind at 23rd (16:54). This marks the third consecutive year that the Clippers have sent an entire delegation to the New Englands.
â€śTheir times were a little bit slower than last week (at the class meet), but the very best runners in the state are here,â€ť said Kenwood when asked about Laverty and Southiere, who have been Cumberlandâ€™s top two scorers all season long.
Senior Kevin Seaver helped Cumberlandâ€™s cause with a 27th-place finish (17:10) while sophomore James Haupt (42nd, 17:28) and junior David Agudelo (48th, 17:33) also played a key hand. Sophomore William Mardo just missed out on cracking Cumberlandâ€™s top five as he ended up placing 57th (17:40). Kenwood also noted that junior Abdullah Kaba was not that far behind (60th, 17:45)
â€śAll of those guys are young and race close to one another,â€ť said Kenwood. â€śWe hope they all move up next year and do well.â€ť
Led by a 17th place finish from senior Elijah Tousignant, Mount St. Charles ended up 10th in the team standings with 295 points. Lincoln junior Nick Ryan was his teamâ€™s top finisher (37th, 17:22) as the Lions placed 13th with 393 points. Burrillvilleâ€™s Zachary Durand delivered an encouraging performance as the sophomore ended up 53rd (17:37).
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03