BURRILLVILLE – There were a few goals that head coach Marty Crowley and his resurging Burrillville High girls’ program made at the beginning of the season.
The first was to possibly claim the Northern Division title, an attainable dream that may have been washed away after a loss to unbeaten Smithfield two weeks ago. Besides earning a slot for the state meet in November, another high focus for the Lady Broncos was to take down league rival Cumberland.
That’s something that hasn’t been done since 1984.
“We knew this was something we had to do,” said Bronco senior Anna Dumais. “The whole season and starting in the summer, we knew we had a shot at this. … Coach talked to us a lot and gave us some words of inspiration. We’ve watched a few inspirational speeches on YouTube and things like that.”
The inspirational speeches, the hard work over the summer and into the season, all paid off for the Broncos on Tuesday afternoon. Dumais and her two younger sisters Betsy and Danielle took three of the top four placements and a pair of clutch performances by its No. 4 and No. 5 runners, Ruby Perry and Liz Rogers, enabled Burrillville to defeat previously-unbeaten Cumberland for the first time in nearly three decades with a 24-31 decision. Both squads swept by Davies and Central Falls in the quad-meet at Burrillville Middle School.
“I’m ecstatic!” said Crowley, whose team improved to 7-1 in the league. Cumberland is now 8-1. “I mean this is the first time since 1984. I made sure our kids were aware of that. Cumberland is a great program. (Head coach Joyce Bonner) does such a great job with her kids, year in and year out. Smithfield and Cumberland, that’s the measuring stick.”
Anna Dumais won the race going away, covering the 3.1-mile trail on her home course in a time of 20 minutes, 49 seconds. Betsy, a freshman standout, was second with a 21:31 clocking, while her junior sibling Danielle was fourth in 21:50. The Clippers’ Esther Kwara broke up the Dumais clan by finishing third with a time of 21:44.
Just past the midway point of the race, Cumberland held a slight edge over Burrillville. The elder Dumais led the field with a trio of Cumberland harriers behind her.
“I wasn’t really panicking,” Crowley admitted. “We felt comfortably where we were. I was a little afraid because Joyce’s team is so strong. They run very well together in packs and I thought maybe our kids wouldn’t be able to hang with them. But Betsy and Danni worked together and when they passed me on the top trail, Betsy had moved to second and Danni was closing in.”
Not too long after, Perry and Rogers went to work, coming from behind to finish ahead of the Clippers fifth-and-final scoring runner by placing eighth and ninth, respectively. Perry was timed in 23:02, a mere second ahead of Rogers.
“We just had to embrace the pain and go,” Perry said. “We just pushed it all so we could win.”
Crowley noticed his last two scoring runners were picking up the pace the final mile and could sense a possible victory.
“I knew we had a shot at that point because they started to close a lot of ground,” he said. “They made up 15 seconds from the last time I saw them on the course. They were big for us. We talk about that on any team you have your solid one, two and three and it’s what you do after that makes you win meets. The bottom part of our team picked up the top part of our team.”
The Burrillville coach felt his squad’s 20-41 setback to Smithfield on Sept. 19 was a motivating factor in the crucial meet.
“We ran with a chip on our shoulder today,” Crowley said. “Smithfield kind of handled us pretty good and we thought we were going to make a challenge to them. We kind of got pushed around at the start. Our kids ran with a purpose today.”
Rounding out the Clippers’ runners were Kwara, Courtney Bricault (sixth, 21:56), Laura Sullivan (seventh, 22:51), Melissa Mardo (10th, 23:20) and Megan Calitri (11th, 23:24).
Based on some previous meets this fall, Bonner expected a challenge form the Broncos.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” she said. ‘We were just hoping that with our numbers we could out-muscle them somewhat. Kerry Connolly, who could be our third runner, didn’t run today. We knew that was going to hurt. I knew it was going to be tough.”
The Cumberland boys improved to a perfect 9-0 for the season, easily sweeping their Northern Division foes in the meet. The Clippers claimed the first six spots and nine of the top 10.
Junior Kevin Seaver took individual honors with a personal-best time of 17:12. Senior teammate Tom Fownes was second at 17:24 and junior Richard Church was third with a 17:54 clocking.
The Clippers were running the meet without their two top runners, senior Matt Sutcliffe and junior Trevor Crowley.
“We knew we had a job to do,” Seaver said. “We had to win the race obviously before we got ahead of ourselves. Once we started out and we had a fast pace going in with our top guys, we knew we at least had it. Going in for me, Tom Fownes and I, we were leading the pack and at the end it just came down to guts really. That’s what I was able to do.”
Sean Seaver and Matt Smith wrapped up the Clippers’ scoring by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.