BURRILLVILLE -- Prior to the season-opening Northern Division tri-meet on Monday afternoon, Lincoln High head coach Sue Carlson stood at the mile mark of the middle school’s 3.1-mile course and offered her thoughts as to who would reign individually.
“My guess is (Burrillville junior) Betsy Dumais will win it, but I told my girl (sophomore Amanda L’Esperance) to stay on her tail for as long as she could,” Carlson stated as the leaders raced toward her. “I also said to remain as close as possible, and – if she had something left at the end – then ‘Go for it,’ but not to push it. I said, ‘Don’t hurt yourself. It’s a long season.”
In the end, the more-seasoned Dumais claimed the victory with a superb time of 19:39, while L’Esperance finished a distant second at 20:03. More importantly, however, Kaidy Cornell outkicked Lions’ sophomore Sabrina Oliveira for third, and fellow Broncos Lauren Lamontagne, a junior, and Morgan Allen, a senior in her first-ever foray into cross-country, took seventh and eighth with respective clockings of 22:52 and 22:54.
When Laura Fidrych managed to place 17th overall in 25:26, though, Burrillville claimed a thrilling 27-30 decision over Lincoln. It was a triumph Broncos’ mentor Marty Crowley had hoped for but didn’t anticipate.
“What a great win this is for our girls!” Crowley exclaimed after his female harriers snatched two more victories over Mount St. Charles (27-31) and Davies Tech (15-42) to start the campaign at 3-0. “We only had five kids competing, but they all ran with heart.
“Honestly, when I figured out (the team scores), I was surprised, because Sue does a great job with her program, always has,” he added. “They were, for a while, one of the top teams in the division, and she brought them back again to be really strong.
“Lauren and Morgan fed off each other, and they ended up catching the big pack of Lincoln girls. Still, not lost in this conversation is Laura. She ran great (Monday). If she hadn’t placed where she did, this would be a totally different story. As individual a sport this is, it’s all about staying as close to your teammates as possible.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, 11 years now, and this is as good a win as we’ve ever had.”
Carlson’s Lions did grab some consolation, downing the Mounties to begin at 1-1. MSC gained a bit of revenge with an 18-50 verdict over Davies to move to 1-2.
On the boys’ side, the Mount utilized senior co-captain Elijah Tousignant cruised to an elementary triumph over Lincoln junior Nick Ryan to spearhead a trio of victories. Those came against the Lions (20-36), Burrillville (17-44) and Davies (15-50).
In the process, the Mounties started at 3-0 as well.
“I’m really pleased with how I ran,” Dumais said after clocking that 19:39, two seconds faster than the Injury Fund meet held on this same course about 10 days ago. “This year, we have a lot of competition within our division, so I went into this knowing that every single dual meet counts. If I can help us progress, hopefully we will, as a team, qualify for states.”
Dumais garnered a third-team All-State laurel after finishing 18th at last November’s Rhode Island Championships, and is hell-bent on snaring a first-team selection this time around.
“That’s definitely my major individual goal,” she grinned. “But I also want us to qualify for states as a team. You know, maybe even New Englands. We’ll see what happens.”
As for L’Esperance, she remained close to Dumais at the mile mark, trailing by only a couple of seconds at 6:23, but couldn’t keep up with the Bronco’s kick.
“At about a mile-and-a-half, she started to pull away,” L’Esperance noted. “I just told myself to keep going, and maintain my pace. This summer, I ran with a lot of different people on my team because I wanted to have a good season. I wanted to go for All-State (status) this year (after placing 37th at state a year ago).
“I was almost there at the end of the season,” she continued. “I was getting closer. I figured if I worked harder over the summer, maybe I could prove something – to myself and the state.”
Senior Megan Corbiel led the Mounties with her fifth-place finish (21:39), while Madeline Charbonneau took sixth exactly 60 ticks later.
For Lincoln, sisters Hiroko and Fuko Yano managed ninth and 10th, respectively, while Bryanna Freitas and Ailsa Ferland placed 11th and 12th.
“I thought coming in we might be able to pull it of because of the way Amanda had been running, not to mention the whole team,” Carlson said of her Lions. “Amanda’s best mile split all of last year was 6:38, and at the Injury Fund, on this same course, she went 6:25, so that’s a 13-second improvement; it’s huge.
“Also, from what I saw at the Injury Fund, we looked better on paper, but Burrillville came ready. Lauren and Morgan made the difference in that race. We needed our third and fourth girls to break up those two, and that didn’t happen.
“All seven of our runners came in before their fifth, but because of the really high placements of Lauren and Morgan, they were able to eke it out.”
Tousignant sailed to the boys’ triumph, crossing the finish line in 16:07, 42 seconds ahead of Lincoln’s Ryan (16:49). His fellow co-captain, senior Jack Carrol, took third (17:26), Lee Nelson fourth in 17:47 and Luke Demers fifth in 17:48.
In the process, he led his male Mounties to a 3-0 start. Lincoln (1-1) defeated Burrillville, 23-38, while the Broncos edged Davies, 22-33.
I like my time, considering it’s an early-season meet,” the victor maintained. “It’s nothing spectacular, but I’ll take it. It’s something to build on. I finished 32nd last year at states, and I definitely thought about it all summer, since last fall. I want to make All-State. It’s been my motivation. That’s why I trained six, seven days a week; I really tried to build up my mileage to get that strong base.
“I always came into the season lacking that base conditioning, but this year, it’s going to be different. I love this course; it’s very fast, not real hilly, and built for speed. My best time here last season was 16:19, so I’m on the right track.”
Ryan expressed excitement at his clocking.
“I never thought I’d be running these times this early,” he said. “I’d say it’s because I have good conditioning. It’s understood that we’d train over the summer, and I just listened to what Coach (John Menna) told us to do. He said to run as best we could, and to help out my teammates, to motivate them. That’s a great time for me, and I’m thrilled.”
The Patriots’ top placement, Alex Antaya, took 17th overall in a best-ever 19:26.