Runners head to Junior Olympic nationals

Runners head to Junior Olympic nationals

The runners on the North Cumberland Surge ages 13-14 boys’ team, shown with their medals, are, from left, Orrin Savage, Ryan Bourke, Cole McCue, Phil Simas, Sam Kucal, and Anderson Jacinto.
North Cumberland Surge, Sentinel Strider runners earn berths at USATF regionals in NYC

CUMBERLAND – The scholastic cross country season may have ended less than a month ago, but that hasn't stopped several Cumberland and Lincoln youngsters from competing regionally on this month's USATF Junior Olympic circuit.

And a week from Saturday, local runners from the North Cumberland Surge and Smithfield-based Sentinel Striders' running squads will add one final meet to their schedule, the USATF national championships at scenic Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nev.

The North Cumberland Surge, which contains runners solely from Cumberland, will send both its boys' and girls' ages 13-14 teams, as well as one of its youngest runners, Charli McCue, to Nevada, thanks to their strong finishes at the regional championships that were held on Nov. 18 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.

The top five teams and top 30 runners in each race qualified for the national meet, and the Surge's boys' team, which captured the national championship last season, and girls' squad placed fifth in their respective 2.48-mile races. McCue, meanwhile, placed sixth out of 114 runners in the girls' ages 9-10 division's 1.86-mile race in a time of 12:34.4.

As for the Striders, which will send a handful of squads to Reno, they were led by Cumberland's Kiley DeFusco, who placed 10th out of 141 runners in the girls' ages 11-12 division's 1.86-mile race in 11:55, and Cooper Magill, who finished 21st in the boys' ages 7-8 division's 2,000-meter run in 9:06.4.

The regionals were originally scheduled for Bowdoin Park in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but due to that weekend's snowstorm, it was moved 48 hours before the meet to nearby Van Cortlandt Park, reported first-year Surge head coach Richard Kucal.

"It was certainly a curveball to have the meet location changed, but the runners handled it well," noted Kucal, who is also the boys' cross country coach at Shea High. "Our runners are very excited to represent Cumberland at the highest level. It's been an honor to coach these amazing kids, who are also hard-working competitors."

In the boys' 13-14 race, most of the runners who helped the North Cumberland Middle School boys' cross country team repeat as state champions led the way for the Surge. Cole McCue seized 12th place in a time of 14:23.9, and after Cumberland's Pedro Mayol, who helped the Striders place fourth in the race, finished 28th in 14:48.3, Anderson Jacinto (38th, 14:52.9), Sam Kucal (44th, 15:00.6), Philip Simas Jr. (50th, 15:20.8), Ryan Bourke (65th, 15:55.3), and Orrin Savage (66th, 15:56.5) crossed the finish line.

The girls' 13-14 race also saw a handful of Surge runners place in the top 70. Cumberland High freshman Chloe Jacinto led the Surge by placing 34th in 16:50.8, and she was followed by Emma Peterson (38th, 17:02.7), Grace Carr (46th, 17:29.6), Bridget Casey (54th, 17:37.1), and Victoria Milligan (67th, 18:04.5).

The Surge also had another runner qualify for the national meet, Sam Henderson, who placed 18th in the boys' 11-12 race in 11:29, but he will be unable to compete in Reno, the Surge head coach reported.

Locally for the Striders, Marcus Miller (33rd, 11:48) helped the Sentinel boys' 11-12 team finish fifth, Maila Miller (47th, 14:04.2) helped the girls' 9-10 team place fourth, and Noah Brown (60th, 13:20.4) and Will Souza (62nd, 13:26) helped the boys' 9-10 team place seventh.

The runners on the Surge’s 13-14 girls’ team are, from left, Chloe Jacinto, Bridget Casey, Emma Peterson, Grace Carr, Victoria Milligan, and Grace Holmander.