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McGAIR: A postseason solution for high school cross-country

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Left to right, Grace Belt and her older sister Olivia Belt along with the rest of the Cumberland High girls cross-country team are awaiting word on what the postseason will look like.

A little of this, a little of that …

• Did you see that blur? That was the midway point of the R.I. high school cross-country season passing by.

Two of the four scheduled dual meets are in the rear-view mirror, hence we’re getting to the point where the rubber is about to meet the road in terms of the Interscholastic League making a definitive call on the logistics surrounding the postseason. Will there be a class meet followed by a state meet? Fingers crossed that plans for both races come to fruition, yet as of this writing, nothing has been set in stone.

Granted, living in COVID times has transformed our society into one where you declare one thing only watch to it disappear in a cloud of smoke as the due date approaches. How many times has that happened since March? Answer: Way too many to count.

Zeroing in on cross-country, here’s one scribe’s suggestion on how to reach the finish line as it relates to handling the championship portion of the season.

Traditionally, the class and state meets have taken place on the same day and at the same venue. Factoring in health and safety, we present what we believe is a more feasible way that ensures all races are able to get off the ground.

Starting with the class meet, which is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 7, let’s take each class (A, B, and C) and stage races at three different courses in an effort to avoid the gathering of large swaths of people in one place. Maybe Class A heads to Ponaganset, Class B runs at East Greenwich, while Class C potentially makes their way to Roger Williams Park. Kick the day off with the girls race followed by the boys, or vice versa.

Again, this is purely a “what if” scenario where more stock should be placed in the idea rather than the thinking-outside-the-box location hypothetical you just read. Just throwing something out there.

Looking ahead to the state meet that’s believed to be on the docket for Nov. 14, let’s give each gender their own day in the sun. Plan it so that the boys run on Saturday the 14th while the girls comb the trails on Sunday the 15th, or flip it the other way. Again, this is being calculated with the purpose of minimizing the number of folks congregating in the same area at the same time.

It should be noted that Foster-Glocester school officials along with those from Ponaganset High are leery about staging anything except dual meets at “The Reservation” course. On the one hand, you can’t blame them for believing the risk outweighs the reward of once again serving as the preeminent destination for R.I. cross-country.

By the same token, the idea of only staging one of the three class meets at Ponaganset and holding the boys and girls state meet on separate days at the Chieftains’ home course has – in accordance with this being an election year –  the making of becoming a winning ticket.

Bottom line? Time is growing increasingly short. For planning purposes, coaches and student-athletes need to know if there are races to gear up for once the fourth and final dual meet is safely in the books two weekends from now.

For the sake of all on standby, let’s hope the creative juices are flowing within the key decision makers.


• In non-COVID times, the crowning of the RIIL Girls Tennis Singles and Doubles Championship served as the unofficial kickoff to the fall sports championship season. Usually, the deciding matches are held at Slater Park the weekend after Columbus Day. Right now, it’s still very much up in the air whether or not the 2020 tennis season will include a statewide tournament for individuals and doubles partners.


• On the subject of winter sports, last Thursday saw boys and girls representatives from their respective R.I. Basketball Coaches Association huddle up with RIIL officials. All parties plan to reconvene sometime in the coming weeks. This development should be considered a good sign that the league is entering into the planning stage of what could be on tap when December rolls around.


• Selected to the 2019-20 Times/Call All-Area Girls Basketball Team, Tatum Forbes has decided to travel down the prep school route and leave St. Raphael Academy. The ultra-competitive guard is heading to St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass. where she’ll spend the next two seasons after reclassifying to the Class of 2022.


• Speaking of SRA, the school’s senior class can lay claim to another scholarship athlete after senior outfielder Taylor Gasper committed to the baseball program at Stonehill College. Gasper becomes the third member of SRA’s Class of 2021 to make a pledge to play a sport either at the NCAA Division I or II level. The list includes Rachael Mongeau (Monmouth University, cross-country/running) and Amaya Dowdy (UMass Lowell, basketball).


• Lincoln High golf head coach and Kirkbrae Country Club assistant pro Nick Maresca is chairing, fundraising, and playing in the Burke Fund’s 100-Hole Golf Marathon that’s scheduled for this coming Monday (Oct. 19) at the Alpine Country Club. Naturally, the goal is to hold up for 100 holes in an effort to raise money for the John P. Burke Memorial Fund. Last year, Maresca raised over $5,500 with the event topping $76,000.

For more information, visit and click on the “Donate” tab.


• North Smithfield High’s version of “Love & Basketball” has a new ring to it after Northmen boys basketball head coach Brandon DiPaola recently proposed to Ariana Stanton, the school’s girls basketball head coach who answered “yes” when DiPaola proposed to her atop a mountain. The couple plans to get married in November 2021 – not too long before the first day of tryouts.


• The PawSox set aside 10 half-hour time slots for the “Never Can Say Goodbye” portion of this weekend’s 33-Hour Marathon. Each slot was capped at 50 people for a total of 500 people.

The link to register went up on at about 6 p.m. last Friday and was completely full by noon on Saturday. Talk about achieving sellout status in no time flat.


• Neither PC nor URI covered themselves in glory when it came to the social media spat that erupted in wake of the decision to take a year off from meeting on the hardwood.


• Sadly, the big baseball field in the sky continues to be the recipient of an array of Hall of Fame talent with Joe Morgan the latest to join Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline as Cooperstown immortals who have passed away this year.


• This column would have been longer, yet to borrow from a recent video press conference with Bill Belichick, I’m doubling down on taking life day by day, hour by hour. 

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03. Check out the “Ocean State Sidelines” podcast that appears on and

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