SMITHFIELD â€“ More than anything, Cumberland High sophomore Amy Laverty wanted to team with her harrier friends and upset fellow powerhouse Smithfield to claim a most elusive Northern Division championship.
The Sentinels, however, provided too much depth in this â€śBattle of Unbeatens,â€ť and closed the season with a perfect 11-0 mark after edging the gutsy Clippers, 24-34, at Deerfield Park on Tuesday afternoon.
Laverty certainly did her part as she covered the 3.1-mile trail in 19:59, but Smithfield garnered five of the next seven spots to not only defeat Cumberland but also Mount St. Charles (15-41) to win its fifth divisional crown over the last six years.
â€śIâ€™m happy with my time; I felt good, pretty smooth, but I felt we were going pretty slow at the beginning of the race,â€ť Laverty stated. â€śI was in a pack at the mile mark, and we were at 6:25. I like to be at about six minutes at that point, so I decided to pick up the pace the last two miles.
â€śI knew at the start the Smithfield girls would come out with me and try to force the pace, but I wanted to run my own race; I wanted to dictate what was going to happen.â€ť
When asked if being victorious provided her any consolation, Laverty shook her head, â€śNo. Iâ€™d rather have the team win than myself. Then again, I wanted to win because I knew it would help our team.â€ť
Junior Stephanie Mattson led the Sentinels, taking second 11 ticks behind Laverty, while CHS junior Meaghan Scullin placed third in 20:30. After that, though, SHS swept the next four places, with classmate Rebecca Meinertz snagging fourth (20:37); freshman Sydney Magus fifth (20:50); and juniors Madison Saliba and Genessee Daley sixth and seventh (with respective clockings of 21:06 and 21:09).
Cumberlandâ€™s remaining point scorers included junior Nichole Barger in eighth, senior Ashley Bricault 11th and Kerry Connolly 13th, but it nevertheless closed its campaign at 10-1.
â€śThey ran their hearts out, and thatâ€™s all I wanted,â€ť noted Clippersâ€™ veteran chief Joyce Bonner, who brought most of her girls to the Maine Festival of Champions on Saturday. â€śAll but two had personal records in Maine, and to think they were going to come back three days later and do the same here, it wasnâ€™t going to happen. We went to Maine to get them experience, and we more than did that.
â€śMeaghan Scullin had a PR in Maine at 20:27 (over the same distance), and she went 20:30 here, so thatâ€™s pretty darn good,â€ť she added. â€śBarger was 20:30 (up north), and she went 21:11 (on Tuesday), but that former time was her best by over a minute.
â€śNaturally, I donâ€™t like losing, but I donâ€™t feel badly. The girls ran well, and nobody gave up. You know what? Itâ€™s a long season, and the championship meets are coming up; those are the ones that really matter. Smithfieldâ€™s a great team, and they have a lot of quality.â€ť
Offered Sentinelsâ€™ head coach John Marchand: â€śWe wanted to focus on running our own race. We knew Lavertyâ€™s a great runner, but I also knew that Cumberland had raced in Maine this weekend. I saw us run a very controlled first mile at about 6:26, but the girls did what they had to the final two miles. Our quality depth really helped us. A lot of them ran faster times than they did here back on Sept. 16.
â€śI still have to tip my hat to Laverty, as sheâ€™s a fantastic runner,â€ť he continued. â€śWe werenâ€™t conceding anything; I though Steph had a shot at beating her. Still, in a perfect world, Amyâ€™s a bit faster.â€ť
As for the Mounties, who dropped both decisions to the hosts (15-48) and Clippers (17-44), senior Megan Corbeil hustled the course in a team-best 21:19, good for ninth, while sophomore Maddi Charbonneau placed 14th in 22:25 and Jada Wilbanks 26th in 25:01.
â€śMegan should make All-Division, and Maddi will probably be on the bubble,â€ť stated MSC girlsâ€™ coach Cliff Matthews, whose squad finished at 5-6 on the season. â€śThe kids ran intelligent races. We gave them targets to chase, with Megan and Maddi focusing on the middle of the Cumberland and Smithfield packs. I figured Megan had a shot to finish seventh but no worse than 10th, and she took ninth. She ran a very good time.â€ťView more articles in: