BURRILLVILLE — Tom Kenwood gave a promise to his Cumberland High squad before competing at the annual Bronco Invitational. If four of his runners could crack 17 minutes on the event’s five-kilometer course at Burrillville Middle School, he would shave off his beard.
Kenwood didn’t have to get out his razor after Thursday’s meet, but he almost did.
The longtime coach had three of his runners dip under the barrier and a fourth was just nine seconds from forcing him to become clean-shaven as Cumberland cruised to a dominating 39-76 win over second-place Prout School under windy conditions. Lincoln was fourth among the 28 schools with 120 points.
Individual honors went to Clipper junior Trevor Crawley, who bolted from the start and was never seriously challenged, crossing the line with a personal-best clocking of 16:02.01. Crawley easily defeated runner-up Ryan Pagliaro of Smithfield, who finished at 16:25.67. St. Raphael Academy senior Robert Parker was third at 16:27.47.
In the girls’ race, Smithfield freshman Stephanie Mattson captured the top prize, taking the lead with less 100 meters remaining. Mattson held off Westerly sophomore Jackie Burr to win with a time of 19:20.04. Burr was timed in 19:21.99. Casey McGrath, a junior from Ponaganset, was fourth at 19:34.89.
The Sentinels and their talented freshmen core copped the team title, defeating runner-up Westerly, 40-71. Host Burrillville, led by a sixth-place effort from senior Anna Dumais, was fourth among the 21 schools with 153 points. Smithfield had its five scoring runners - all ninth-graders - finish in the top 14.
Crawley, a second-place finisher in Saturday’s Varsity One race at the Brown Invitational, quickly took control on the quick 5K course. He hit the first mile at 5:08. By the time he reached two-miles (10:41), the gifted junior was already 70 meters ahead of the chase park.
“I just took off right from the start,” he said. “I expected people to go with me, but they didn’t.”
The meet was without some of the best teams and individuals in the state, including No. 1 harrier Mike Marsella and Chariho Regional and three-time defending state titlist Bishop Hendricken. Still, Crawley had some formidable competition with the likes of Pagliaro, Parker and teammate Matt Sutcliffe (fourth, 16:42.47).
Parker had potential to battle for the lead position had he got a better start. The Saints’ senior was boxed after the gun was fired and was in about 20th place after the first mile.
“My first mile ended up being like a 5:35, so the rest of the race I was playing catch-up,” he said. “I mean, I got third, so that’s not bad…If I had a faster mile, I definitely would have had a faster time and probably a better place. Whatever? I got boxed in and tried to work with it. I think I did well considering I had a slow first mile.”
Comprising the scoring for the victorious Clippers, who have a legitimate chance at cracking the top six at the state meet on Nov. 6, was Crawley, Sutcliffe, senior Tom Fownes (seventh, 16:53.82), sophomore Kevin Seaver (11th, 17:09.40) and sophomore Alex Southiere (15th, 17:21.25).
“They looked good,” Kenwood said. “They are confident and we have a few guys that are still trying to make the varsity lineup.”
Lincoln was led by a top finish from senior Alex Olean, who was eighth overall at 16:56.12. Senior Alex Carlson was 14th with a time of 17:20.16.
Burr was the front runner for most of the girls’ race with Mattson, McGrath, Prout’s Jessica Elliot and Smithfield freshman Madison Saliba (fifth, 19:46.08) within striking distance. With a quarter-mile remaining, Mattson and Elliot pulled with a few strides of Burr.
By the time the race reached the final 200-meter straightway, it turned into an all-out battle for the win with Mattson finally gaining control the last 50 meters.
“I knew I could catch (Burr) at the top of the hill (with 2.9 miles left),” Mattson said. “I was just trying to keep my place. When we started to pick it up, I knew I could get them.”
The Sentinels’ bunched their five scoring runners within 1:36 of each other to earn the team crown. Those runners included Mattson, Saliba, freshman Rebecca Meinertz (seventh, 19:54.12), freshman Caitlin Paredes and freshman Analise England (14th, 20:56.32).
“Obviously Stephanie’s finish was outstanding,” said Smithfield coach John Marchand. “To have three freshmen in the top seven in a meet like this is outstanding. I was very happy with Caitlin Paredes. It was her best overall race she’s run all year. She certainly has a lot of ability. She was fourth last year in the middle school states as an eighth-grader and we need her to keep doing it like she did today. If she does that, it’s going to help us a lot.”
“I though the wind was going to affected them more than it did, which makes the times even more impressive,” he continued. “It was swirling around pretty good out there. For three to break 20 (minutes) was great. I know the three are very talented, but to break 20 (minutes), is more than I could ask for.”
The Chieftains’ McGrath, who was the top local finisher at last year’s state meet, gave herself a confidence-booster for this year’s championship with a PB of more than 40 seconds.
McGrath was particularly pleased that she was able to finally run under 19 minutes for the 5K distance.
“It feels really good,” she said. “I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it because I hurt myself the other day at a team practice so I am really, really excited.”