CUMBERLAND – When your intention is to win a road race, it’s always helpful to have a little course knowledge before stepping foot on the starting line.
Lack of that one minor detail cost Kerwin Vega a victory at last year’s Cumberlandfest 5K. With a slight lead over Woonsocket’s Corey Brunelle during the last stretch of the five-kilometer race, Vega ran past the final left-hand turn to the finish line inside Diamond Hill State Park. That miscue allowed Brunelle to quickly seize control and produce a narrow one-second win over Vega.
“I had the lead coming into the last straightaway and for some reason I thought the finish was at the same place [as the start],” he said. “I tried to come back but by then I couldn’t make it up.”
In his return trip to the Cumberland event on Saturday morning, the recent Brandeis University grad made sure there would be no misjudgment at the finish. This time he got it right and the positive results for his hard work.
Withstanding a slight challenge from Cumberland High all-stater Trevor Crawley at the halfway mark, Vega cruised to the individual title on a hot and humid morning to win convincingly with a time of 16 minutes, 21 seconds. Crawley, a soon-to-be junior at CHS, was second at 16:30.
Recent Cumberland grad Lauren Lapierre claimed the women’s crown. The 18-year-old Lapierre finished 25th among the 71 finishers with a time of 21:44. Brittany Richer of Woonsocket, the 2010 victor, was a distant second and 27th overall at 22:37.
Vega admitted he was thinking of his inaugural visit to Cumberland last August as he was running the last few hundred yards on Diamond Hill Road.
“It was definitely on my mind,” he said. “I said if I could get the lead at the last straightaway, I felt confident that I would win. It was in my head, ‘Make the turn. Make the turn.’ Once I saw the people, I am like there it is.”
The 22-year-old Vega went through the first mile, which includes a treacherous quarter-mile incline near the beginning, with a time of 5:20. He was 10:40 at the two-mile mark.
“I led for most of the way,” he said. “[Crawley] tried to make a move a little bit after the turn and I just sort of waited. I could tell when we got to the downhill that he really didn’t have much left and that’s when I decided to go.”
Crawley, who was using the race as a fast tempo run for his off-season training, made his move at the turnaround point with the intention of quickening the pace.
“I didn’t expect to beat him,” he said. “I just want to push the pace a little so I could get a better time, and it worked. I haven’t raced or done any workouts this summer so I just wanted to see where I am at. I felt good. I am surprised I ran that well and I hope to continue that this season.”
Former Clipper star Jason Reilly, 28, was third overall with a time of 16:51. Tom Fownes, who will enter his senior year at CHS this fall, was fourth at 17:04 and recent grad Brian Sullivan was fifth with a 17:17 clocking.
Winning the masters division was James Dandeneau. The 43-year-old Dandeneau, a multiple all-stater for the Clippers in the 1980s, was eighth overall with a quality time of 17:43.
As for Lapierre, she made her first visit to the Cumberland race a successful one. But she was a little taken back by the challenging first mile.
“I definitely underestimated the hill,” she said. “I never ran this race before. It was tough but I tried to push as much as I could. I just kept thinking that I have to get a good time for college. I have been working really hard at it. I hoped I would have gotten a better time, but for what it was I am happy with it because it was a hot day and there was a big hill.”
Lapierre, who went through the mile checkpoint at 6:52, has been training heavily for her first year as a college runner at the University of Rhode Island. She just finished a 40-mile week and was boosting that mileage to 45 this coming week.
The former Cumberland standout was her team’s No. 1 runner during the cross-country season last fall and had recorded a best of 11:18 for 3,000 meters on the track.
“I definitely feel a lot better,” said Lapierre, about the increased workload. “It’s making me stronger. It does makes me a lot more tired and I sleep a lot longer. But I am definitely feeling a lot better when I am doing my races. I definitely have more kick when I go to my races.”
Lapierre was hoping to run more than a minute faster at Saturday’s race, but found that difficult considering there was no one to push her. Last month, she was among the top female finishers at the Arnold Mills Road Race, running the four-mile event in 27:32.
“I was looking for 20:20 [today],” she said. “All I saw was a pack of guys in front of me and I didn’t think I could keep up with them because they are naturally faster. It would have been nice to have a few other girls racing with me trying to get the same type of goal.”
Taking third in the women’s division was East Greenwich’s Tiffany Wesson with a time of 24:11. Rounding out the top five finishers was first master Jackie Hooper, 41, of Cumberland (36th, 25:26) and Cumberland’s Stacey Sabourin (37th, 25:26).
AT DIAMOND HILL STATE PARK
1. BRANDON MCMILLEN , CUMB. 21:35 1. ANGELICA MIRANDOU, E. GREEN. 28:27
1. TREVOR CRAWLEY, CUMB. 16:30 1.BROOKE DALTON, CUMB. 28:37
1. KERWIN VEGA, WALTHAM 16:21 1. LAUREN LAPIERRE, CUMB. 21:44
1. JAMES DANDENEAU, FAIRHAVEN 17:43 1. JACKIE HOOPER, CUMB. 25:26
1. JIM FERNS, CUMB. 20:35 1. JACQUELINE WESSON, E. GREEN. 29:28
1. FRANK SCIUTO, LINC. 29:24
FIRST CUMBERLAND RESIDENT
1. CRAWLEY, CUMB. 16:30 1. LAPIERRE, CUMB. 21:44