August 20th marked the official start of the Cross Country practice season in the state of Rhode Island. All of the summer miles will start to pay off as many athletes return to their respective schools for the fall. MilesplitRI has taken the task of previewing both the Boys and the Girls competition for this coming year. With cross country previews comes the obvious disclaimer that we are working with an incomplete picture. It is impossible to know what athlete will come out of the woodwork from another sport or decide for the first time to take up cross country. Transfers, incoming freshmen, and unknown injuries will certainly affect any preseason rankings. That said, by taking a look at the returning athletes from last year’s cross country state meet, JV state meet, and the results from the most recent track season, we can predict who will be making a splash this upcoming fall. Today we will be focusing on the boys individual competition.
Last year’s campaign saw one of the more dominating individual victories in recent history. With Mike Marsella moving on to the college ranks we are left this year with what will be a much more competitive individual race. Leading the top returners from 2011 is Jake Kilcoyne of Chariho High School who finished 2nd to his teammate and ran a scorching 16:02.87 at the 2011 Rhode Island cross country state meet and then later a 15:58 at the New England championships. Jake had a strong outdoor campaign finishing third in the 3000m at the Rhode Island state meet in a time of 8:50.54.
One of his major competitors this season will be his teammate Bryce Kelley, one of the remaining “Four Horsemen” who contributed to the national 4x1 mile record. Bryce ran 16:31.05 at the 2011 cross country state meet, good enough to finish 6th, and 16:25 at the New England Championships where he was the 4th Rhode Island finsher. It also happened to be his first cross country season. Bryce came on strong during the outdoor track season winning both the 1500 (4:02.54) and the 800 (1:55.94).
Aside from the two young men from Chariho, the obvious choice to compete for an individual title is Cumberland high school’s ace Trevor Crawley. He finished 3rd at the 2011 state meet with a time of 16:13.51 and then went on to win the outdoor 3000m title with a time of 8:42.17 Do not be surprised to see his name at the top of several result sheets this year.
Bishop Hendricken’s harriers will add to the drama to the season. At the end of the Cross Country season it became hard to pick a consensus #1 from their team. Colin Tierney was the top finisher for the Hawks at the New England championships running 16:20. His teammate Tyler Henseler was able to top the hawks roster with an all-state worthy performance running 16:27 at the cross country state meet. Throw into the mix returning freshmen Michael Potter (16:32 at the New England championships and 8:51.01 for 3000m) and senior captain Connor Doyle (16:43 at the cross country state meet, 15:24 for 5000m at the New Balance outdoor track and field championships) and becomes clear the Hakws have positioned themselves to be a part of the all-state selection.
Some other notables include Lasalle Academy standout Michael Stephens who finished 10th at the RI cross country state meet last year (16:41), Conner Royley of Barrington who finished 12th (16:43), and Ben Fazio of East Greenwich (18th, 16:47).