This weekend Rhode Island cross country teams crossed the border for the first time in nearly two years. La Salle Academy, East Greenwich, Pilgrim, Cumberland, and Tollgate traveled to the town of Attleboro, just 5 miles from the Rhode Island border. North Kingstown, however, traveled to Burlington, Vermont where they continued their tradition of racing at the Burlington Cross Country Invitational. Rhode Island teams and individuals left their mark at these races winning 4 of the 6 races at Highland Park, winning both Varsity team races at Highland Park, and runner-up honors for two Varsity squads in Vermont.
In Attleboro, the second annual race began with the freshmen girls' 3k at 9 AM. Pilgrim's Keaney Bayha took the win in dominant fashion with a 12:15. She put almost 80 seconds on second-place finisher Emily Clarke of East Greenwich. In third was Carli Walbert of Franklin. In the team battle, Franklin went on to put 4 in the top 8 and 5 in the top 14. Their main competitor Lexington put 5 in the top 13 but would fall to Franklin 38-44. This race set the tone for Rhode Island dominance at the meet as more races would go off in the hours to come.
The gun went off for the freshmen boys 3k at 9:30 and saw Will Cerrutti of Marblehead win in convincing fashion posting a 10:36 over the 3k distance. Finishing in the runner-up position was Luke Allen of East Greenwich in 11:01. Luke finds himself in a similar position to Injury Fund with another second-place finish showing his consistency so far this season. In third place was Caiden Sears of Seekonk who was two seconds behind Luke in 11:03. Liam Holmes of Pilgrim and Joseph Cavanagh of La Salle Academy also finished in the top 10. In the boy's team race, Lexington looked dominant overall teams as they put 5 in the top 15 overall where no other team put more than 3.
The Junior Varsity Girls Race was very competitive with Lauren Harkins of Bishop Feehan and Ava Bradshaw of East Greenwich separated by just four seconds. They finished 22:00 to 22:04, and Amy Parkinson of Bishop Feehan took the bronze with her 22:22. In the Team battle, East Greenwich showed their immense depth with 6 of their runners in the top 13. Cumberland also had 2 in the top 10 with Julia Laverty placing 7th and Emma Peterson finishing 9th.
The Junior Varsity Boys Race La Salle Academy was in a fierce battle with Lexington. Both dominated in a similar fashion to the East Greenwich girls team with each placing 4 in the top 10 overall. Raymond Flores, a 400-meter runner who placed at the state meet last spring, led the charge in a tick over 18 minutes for La Salle. Lexington, however, took the next two spots with Joseph Ryan and Ian Miller running 18:19 and 18:26 respectively. Lexington's third runner, Robert Badger, proved to be the difference as they finished in 5th ahead of Richard Meyer of La Salle Academy. La Salle Academy fell 38-31 to Lexington as their spread helped them take the title.
The Varsity Girls Race yet again saw a Rhode Island 1-2-3 as in 2019 La Salle's Kaylie Armitage, Coventry's Haley Oliver, and East Greenwich's Rylee Shunney. During this time Reese Fahy was still running in New Jersey dominating races on her way to an individual berth at NXN. Now with the top two runners from 2019 not at this race, and Reese running for the Avengers, the duo from East Greenwich made a statement on Saturday as Reese ran 17:50, breaking the course record formerly held by the previously mentioned Kaylie Armitage at the inaugural running of the Highland Park race. A minute behind in 18:52 was teammate Shunney. She placed 30 seconds ahead of Caroline Cummings of La Salle who clocked another sub 20 performance in 19:24. Freshmen sensation Kiley Defusco finished 6th for Cumberland in 19:53 and Ava Peters for East Greenwich made it three for the Avengers in the top 8. La Salle's Lily Borin finished in 10th with a 20:32. East Greenwich put 5 in the top 15, but Bishop Feehan put 5 in the top 14. However, East Greenwich won 39-46 thanks to their low sticks scoring a combined 3 points.
The Varsity Boys Race saw La Salle Academy return to defend their team title from 2019. That team, however, only returned Jack Casey and Lachlan Bishop. They faced a strong East Greenwich team for the second major race in a row after already running against them at Injury Fund. History would repeat itself as La Salle would win out thanks to a strong set of performances from Jack Casey and Adam Thibodeau. Jack and Adam said East Greenwich's Nick Martin and Jacob Connolly were together up until 600 meters left in the race. From there, Adam began to surge, and Casey and Nick would match the move. With only a few hundred to go Adam and Casey broke away with Casey kicking ahead of his teammate in order to secure the win. They went 1-2 in a pair of sub 16 efforts in 15:57.1 and 15:58.1 respectively. Third and fourth were the duo from East Greenwich Nick Martin and Jacob Connolly who ran 16:03 and 16:16. Also in the top ten were Phil Simas and Lachlan Bishop of La Salle whom both ran between 17:02 and 17:03. Adam spoke about how hard their training recently has been as they begin to prepare for their invitationals in the coming weeks. They were also pleased with the return of Phil Simas to the line up who has been battling both injury and sickness. "He has not lost a beat," said Adam, "and yet he is still building up mileage and will continue to make an impact on our team." La Salle's win today is very exciting and continues to build up to when La Salle and Hendricken face each other head to head later this fall at the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
In Burlington Vermont, North Kingstown's boys and girls squad prepared to race the Burlington High School Cross Country Run Invitational. The boy's team was lead by Junior Jackson Borge. He ran 16:07.1 for runner-up honors to Jacob Tremblay of BLA St. Albans who ran 16:00. North Kingstown also had Jake Sullivan and Cameron Ferrell in the top 15 placing 6th and 14th respectively. North Kingstown would fall to BLA St. Albans 41-65 as they put 5 in the top 16. In the JV Boys race, Ben Monaco of NK placed 3rd in 19:17 and Jake Milner was 13th. The North Kingstown girls team also competed with Rory and Molly Sullivan placing 4th and 5th and their teammate Ruby Nunnery was 7th. The Sullivan sisters lead the way with their 19:21 and 19:41, but the team also finished runner-up to Harwood UHS 44-59. They were lead by Ava Thurston in 18:24 winning by about 30 seconds. In the JV Girls race, the NK team placed 5th lead by Claire Lockwood's 8th place finish in just over 23 minutes. Amelia Dion led Burlington HS to the win with just 36 points. North Kingstown's Sullivan sisters as well as Jackson Borge and Jake Sullivan are primed to make a splash later this postseason if they continue at their current rate of improvement.
Also, I was scrolling through MileSplit and noticed Barrington once again traveled to Martha's Vineyard for the Martha's Vineyard Invitational 2021. The boys of Barrington High School were led by Holden Vaughn who finished runner up in a season's best 16:22.28. Brandon Piedade finished 14th in a PR of 17:27. The boy's team finished 3rd overall behind the host, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, and Brockton was 2nd. The JV boys team for Barrington won 63-90 over Plymouth North High School in the JV race. The Eagles were led by Ethan Baker in 4th and Elijah Hruska in 8th. The freshman boys race saw Barrington win again thanks to 4 freshmen in the top 13. They were led by Connor Curran and Myles Napolitano who were 4th and 5th over the 1.x mile course. The Eagles showed their depth and proves they will make themselves known at the Class B Championships and States later this year.