CUMBERLAND — Head coach Tom Kenwood had an outstanding reason as to why he kept his top four Cumberland High harriers, including probable All-State junior Trevor Crawley and classmate Kevin Seaver, from competing in a Northern Division meet featuring four other Valley squads.
“I’m trying to minimize the number of races they run in the season to keep them fresh; I want them to be ready when the bigger meets come up,” Kenwood stated simply.
The Clippers still didn’t miss a beat. Sophomore David Agudelo completed the 3.1-mile Cumberland Monastery course in a triumphant 17:32, while teammates Matt Smith and Alex Southiere finished a close second and third in 17:37 and 17:40, respectively. Burrillville sophomore Ben Cornell settled for fourth in 17:57.
With those top three finishes, Cumberland outdueled the Broncos, 21-34, and easily dispatched North Smithfield (15-45), Davies Tech (15-45) and Woonsocket (15-50) to remain unbeaten at 9-0.
With help from Dan Takita and Zack Durand’s fifth and sixth, Burrillville snared a trio of victories – defeating Davies and Woonsocket by identical 17-43 counts, and North Smithfield 21-40 – to up their divisional mark to 5-4.
“They ran outstanding races; the kids didn’t surprise me,” Kenwood noted of his scoring quintet, which included freshman Will Mardo and sophomore Abdullah Kaba taking seventh and eighth, respectively. “Those top three guys are easily interchangeable with our other three guys who didn’t run, though Trevor’s untouchable.”
Agudelo hustled to a first-mile split of 5:18, four ticks ahead of Cornell, but the latter closed the gap by two seconds at the two-mile mark at 11:13. The Clipper, however, kicked it into high gear over the final half-mile.
“I’m pretty pleased, as this is a pretty hard course,” Agudelo grinned afterward. “It’s one of the toughest around because there are a lot of mini-hills out there. It’s a rolling course, and it can take a lot out of you. It’s almost like being in a steeplechase.
“I was expected to win this race because Coach told me beforehand that Trevor and Kevin weren’t going to run,” he added. “My best time here is 17:13, so I guess I was pretty close. The last time I ran here (in triple-dual meet wins over Ponaganset, North Providence and Central Falls, I ran a 19-something. It was a really bad race, so I was kind of paranoid about it.
“(Cornell) kind of stretched me out. I thought he was ‘chicken-running’ me; I thought he was going to draft off me and then try to outkick me at the end. At about two-and-a-half miles, I looked back and didn’t see him. I just saw Matt and Alex, so that gave me a boost of confidence.”
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For Smith, he produced a personal record-tying time at the Monastery, and was rather excited about it.
Actually, Cornell felt the same about his outing.
“During the race, I as thinking, ‘A Cumberland runner may win this, but maybe I can finish second,’” Cornell said. “I pushed myself so much early on, my body started to weaken and I knew I had to slow down a little if I wanted to finish.
“I’ve never run here before, and it’s a tough course,” he continued. “I still have to say I’m satisfied with my time and place. Usually, I’m farther down the list, like ninth or 10th. It feels great to be in the top four.”
Freshman Oliver Hazard paced the Northmen, who remained winless on the season at 0-8, with an 11th-place finish, just nine ticks behind Davies Tech senior Mike Hennigan, who closed in 19:41. With help from teammates Jon Andrade (31st) and Derek Hawkin (33rd), the Patriots eked out mighty tight wins over North Smithfield (27-30) and Woonsocket (28-29).
Likewise, the Villa Novans snuck past the Northmen, 27-28, doing so in part to the abilities of senior Carlos Rodriguez and sophomore Patrick Reilly taking 17th and 18th overall (with times of 20:21 and 20:22).
“Carlos is really coming on,” offered Woonsocket coach Robert Stewart. “This summer, he was on a plateau, but his times have dropped precipitously over the last month. He just wants it. I think he was embarrassed at being the third or fourth (best) runner on our team, and that he wasn’t giving it his all. I believe he was thinking, ‘I should be No. 1,’ and he worked hard to get there.”
Broncos’ mentors Marty Crowley and Skee Carter loved how their boys competed.
“The guys ran great, and we’re making progress,” Crowley noted. “I can’t remember the last time we had five wins in a season. They’re getting better every race out.”
Burrillville High sophomore Betsy Dumais is one of the finest harriers in the Northern Division, if not the state.
She nevertheless couldn’t get over the abilities of Cumberland freshman Amy Laverty, who last fall claimed the Rhode Island Middle School individual title as a North Cumberland student-athlete.
“That girl can run!” she exclaimed after the petite Clipper captured the top spot in a five-way Northern Division meet at the Cumberland Monastery on Monday afternoon, doing so in a stellar 3.1-mile clocking of 19:40. “She’s very talented, especially as a freshman.”
Dumais had to settle for runner-up honors as she covered the rolling course in 19:59, though still paced the Broncos to three wins over North Smithfield and Woonsocket (15-48), not to mention Davies Tech (15-50), and raised their league mark to 7-2.
Thanks to Laverty, however, Cumberland remained undefeated at 9-0, that after downing the Broncos, 21-36, then trouncing the Northmen, Patriots and Villa Novans by identical 15-50 counts.
It came of no surprise that Laverty shared her admiration for the way Dumais competes.
“It was definitely one of the hardest races I’ve ever been in,” Laverty smiled afterward. “I knew if I wanted to win, I had to keep my pace up. Betsy’s a fantastic runner; I figured if I could stay ahead of her, it would discourage her from trying to kick past me. I tried to keep at least a 10- to 15-yard lead on her.
“There were a couple of times I thought she may be trying to make a charge at me, but I just made sure I kept my stride.”
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As for her time, it was exactly 69 ticks faster than the one she posted two weeks ago in a home triple-dual league meet against Ponaganset, North Providence and Central Falls.
“Wow!” she gushed. “I know the course is a little bit longer last time (due to a fallen tree on the usual track), but I never thought I’d beat that time by that much. I’m thrilled.”
The Clippers utilized four other harriers running as a pack to garner the triumphs, and they included senior Emily Feng (third), freshman Meaghan Scullin (fourth), senior Esther Kwara (fifth) and Nicole Barger (eighth). Feng closed in 20:22, but there was only a 50-second difference between the times recorded by Scullin (21:11) and Barger (22:01).
Burrillville senior Danielle Dumais took sixth and sophomore Ruby Perry seventh with respective clockings of 21:20 and 21:23, while Lauren Lamontagne and Liz Rogers finished 10th and 11th.
“I thought I ran a great race, a solid race, so I’ll take it,” Dumais said before she began her warm-down. “I ran the first mile in about 6:15, and I guess Amy was five seconds ahead of me, and I trailed at the two-mile (mark) by about seven or eight. Usually, my strategy is to stay behind the leaders because I’m used to running longer distances, then speed up over the middle miles.
“I guess I just wasn’t feeling up to speed, my normal abilities,” she added. “Amy ran great.”
Mentioned Burrillville coach Marty Crowley: “Amy’s the real deal. Our girls ran very well, but Amy ran better. Joyce (Bonner) does a great job with her kids. She has a lot of depth, and it makes a big difference in a race like this.”
Bonner indicated she was stunned at Laverty’s speedy time drops.
“It’s unbelievable; she’s amazing,” she stated. “I mean, she’s a freshman, but she’s been running since sixth grade, so she comes in with years of experience. She’s the real deal.”
When told Crowley had said the same moments before, she laughed.
“She’s really a talented girl, the most talented freshman I’ve ever coached,” she offered. “At this point, she’s undefeated in our division, which is saying something, because we have Casey McGrath at Ponaganset and Besty at Burrillville.
“We had some girls do some very impressive times,” she continued. “Bu the season isn’t over yet. Now we’ve got Smithfield next Tuesday (at 4 p.m. at Bryant University), and that’ll be for the (Northern Division) championship. We’re going to need a really good race to win it, as Smithfield’s loaded.”
Woonsocket’s top placement, Breanna Lake, finished 14th overall in 23:22; that helped the ‘Novans to a 19-36 verdict over Davies, but – thanks in part to the North Smithfield trio of Rebecca Soito (19th), Anne Marie Votta (25th) and Tayla Bogun (26th) – the Northmen edged head coach Robert Stewart’s bunch, 28-29.
Davies, who entered Monday’s action at 2-5, dropped all four meets and fell to 2-9. Still, sophomore Arielle Gushyn led the Patriots, mustering 28th in a best-ever time of 26:10, while teammate Lauren Chacon finished just behind in 26:14.