CUMBERLAND — The chief worry wasn’t the 3.1-mile Monastery course, nor was it the competitors who lined up at the starting line.
Given the Indian Summer-like conditions that blanketed the region Tuesday, there was no question that the weather stood to register the greatest impact during this Northern Division tri-meet for both area males and females.
“The kids are spending all day in school. They don’t drink enough, which leads to them getting dehydrated. Then you have the heat …” explained veteran Cumberland boys’ cross country Tom Kenwood after his crew netting convincing victories over Lincoln (17-46) and Davies (15-50) before experiencing a tighter battle with Scituate (23-33). “I had Gatorade out there before the race, but it was a very good performance for everyone.”
The Clippers netted seven placements among the first 10 harriers who crossed the finish line. Leading the way was senior standout Alex Southiere, who returned to active duty after sitting out last week’s division meet. Southiere covered the course in 16:56, which was two seconds faster than the meet’s runner-up finisher, teammate and sophomore Sean Laverty.
“That’s Alex’s third win of the duel-meet season,” Kenwood gladly pointed out.
Scituate grabbed the third and fourth spots, yet it was the Clippers’ superior depth that paved the way in achieving a clean sweep. Matt Smith placed fifth (17:39) followed by senior Kevin Smith at eighth (17:53), Will Mardo at ninth (18:27) and Abdullah Kaba at 10th (18:29).
“You can’t replace Trevor (Crawley),” noted Kenwood when asked about the former long-distance specialist who took his running talents to Providence College, “but overall, I think as a team we’re a little bit stronger than we were last year. The young kids have improved and continue to work hard.”
The Clippers will take a 9-0 mark into next Tuesday’s showdown against Mount St. Charles and Smithfield, two teams that each sport 8-1 records. Before that, Cumberland will head to Belfast, Maine this weekend to participate in the Festival of Champions.
Lincoln’s top finisher was Nick Ryan, whose time of 17:44 earned him a seventh-place ribbon. The Lions are 3-4 overall while the Patriots are 0-7.
Lincoln High girls’ coach Sue Carlson made sure to relay to her best scorer, Amanda L’Esperance, the importance of using proper judgment while on the course, particularly when it came down to where the sophomore stood in comparison with Cumberland sophomore Amy Laverty.
“We knew that Amanda was going to have a race with Amy and we just said ‘Let’s see how it plays out,’” Carlson said. “If Amy had a significant lead, let her go. If Amanda could hang with her, let her hang with her.”
Depth-wise, Carlson knew that Lincoln would have a hard time keeping pace with Cumberland. She proved prophetic as Laverty and fellow Clipper Meaghan Scullin finished 1-2, respectively, such performances helping to jump-start Cumberland to elementary victories over Lincoln (18-43), Scituate (17-44) and Davies (15-50).
L’Esperance ended up coming in third place. As Carlson pointed out, Lincoln’s close 27-29 victory over Scituate was a significant development that could not be underscored.
“We needed to beat Scituate in order to remain in contention for the division,” said Carlson. “Right now, we’re sitting in fourth, but depending on how next week plays out with Burrillville, Ponaganset and Scituate, we potentially could tie with somebody and make it to the states by way of the division, which would be more preferable than trying to have to do it by way of the class meet. We bumped up to Class A this year, which is different for us.”
While Hiroko Yano’s 14th place helped Lincoln’s cause in fending off Scituate, Carlson felt the crowning achievement was the pack mentality that several of her runners displayed. Ailsa Ferland set the pace with her 17th –place finish followed by Bryanna Freitas (18th) and Fuko Yano (19th).
“Those three have been running consistently as a pack over the last three meets, and that helps put the hammer down,” said Carlson.
Laverty netted her third individual dual meet crown with a time of 20:28 with fellow 10th grader Scullin not that far behind at 20:41.
“Amy’s really a leader on the team. Only being a sophomore, she’s got so much talent and it’s fun watching her grow,” said Cumberland head coach Joyce Bonner. “She’s followed close behind by Meaghan.”
Cumberland will face chief rival and fellow unbeaten Smithfield next Tuesday at Deerfield Park. On the same day, Lincoln will host a meet at Chase Farm Park that includes Davies, Central Falls, North Smithfield, Woonsocket and North Providence.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03