Sentinel cross country squads turn attention to class, state meets

Sentinel cross country squads turn attention to class, state meets

The captains on this season Smithfield High boys' and girls' cross country teams are, from left, Stephanie Mattson, Caitlin Paredes, Genesee Daley, Jake Dascoli, Daniel McCutcheon, Carlton Eaton, Rebecca Meinertz, and Madison Saliba. (VAlley Breeze & Observer photo by Kayla Panu)
Despite losing Northern Division titles to Cumberland, Smithfield's spirits are high

SMITHFIELD - Before the cross country season began, the Smithfield High boys' and girls' teams knew that Cumberland High would be their biggest threat in the Northern Division.

The Lady Sentinels had captured three straight division titles going into this year, but the boys' head coach Joe Bennett said that Cumberland would be snapping at their heels. And after the final regular-season meet last Monday, the Clippers' boys and girls each clinched their divisions with 11-0 records.

The Lady Sentinels still finished their regular season strong, defeating North Smithfield, Scituate and Woonsocket on Monday to wind up with a record of 10-1. Their only loss came a week earlier against Cumberland, 25-31.

"It was a great race," Smithfield girls' head coach John Marchand said about that defeat. "I have nothing but respect for Joyce Bonner and the rest of the coaching staff. They're an outstanding team that beat us; that's the nature of competition. Cumberland and Smithfield always bring out the best in one another. It is a great rivalry, and I look forward to more races to come."

Last Monday afternoon was the Lady Sentinels' final dual meet of the year, and it took place at home at Deerfield Park. The top runner was Smithfield's Stephanie Mattson, who toured the 3.1-mile course in 21:21. The next three finishers were also from Smithfield in Rebecca Meinertz (21:23), Sydney Bagus (21:23) and Madison Saliba (21:24).

Veronica Northup of Scituate placed fifth, while the sixth- and seventh-place finishers were Sentinels. Isabella Cournoyer grabbed sixth in a time of 22:39 and Analise England took seventh.

"Sophomore Sydney Bagus has had a fantastic year, as well as future leaders (and juniors) Cassidy Bissitt, Molly Millea, Isabella Cournoyer, Audra Ravenelle, and Brooklyn Saliba, sophomore Samantha Chelo, and freshman Lindsy Rawlinson," Marchand said.

Bissitt placed ninth with a time of 23:06, while Millea was in 10th in 23:20. The final two seniors placed 12th in Genesee Daley and 16th in Caitlin Paredes.

"This senior group will go down as one of the greatest girls' cross country teams in school history," Marchand said. "I am extremely proud of seniors Stephanie Mattson, Rebecca Meinertz, Madison Saliba, Genesee Daley, Analise England, and Caitlin Paredes. They will be missed as runners, and more importantly, as people, and they will be difficult to replace."

Throughout their time on the girls' cross country team, these six seniors have had many accomplishments. Marchand said that they have captured two junior high state championships, the freshman state championship, three Northern Division championships, and three Class C championships, and finished with a 39-1 record in division meets. They have also qualified for three New England Championship meets.

The girls are now training for the class and state championship meets. The class meets are on Oct. 25 at Ponaganset High School, and for the first time ever, the Smithfield girls will be competing in Class B. Marchand said that Class B has several strong teams, including Westerly.

The Smithfield boys are also preparing for these meets, but will still compete in Class C. Both the boys' and girls' teams will compete in two invitationals over the next two weekends to get ready for the end of the month, with the state meet being held on Nov. 2 back at Ponaganset.

The boys finished their regular season also with one loss, and that also came at the hands of Cumberland. As with Marchand, Bennett has a lot of respect for the Cumberland team and program.

"We finished 9-1-1 and lost to Cumberland," Bennett said. "They have an unbelievable program with triple our enrollment, and I couldn't be prouder (of my team). Cumberland has such a great program. They have two middle schools, a good feeder system. They have two Adam Courtemanche's to my one."

On Sept. 29 at the Cumberland Monastery, the Sentinels were slightly off, while Cumberland was running on all cylinders. Bennett said that before the race, they knew they would have to run an A-plus race and get lucky to win, but they had an off day and lost.

The Sentinels finished their regular season last Monday by defeating North Smithfield and Woonsocket, but tying Scituate, 28-28.

"That was interesting," Bennett said about the final. "Scituate was seventh in the state and just missed the New Englands last year."

Runners on both Scituate and Smithfield are friendly, as they partake in the Sentinel Striders, a running program out of Smithfield.

"Mike Nehring does a great job," Bennett said about the Scituate boys' head coach.

This last race was a close one as the Spartans broke out hard and fast, while the Sentinels tried to keep up even splits and be consistent to go into the second half of the course.

With half a mile to go, the Spartans were 1-2, Bennett said, while Adam Courtemanche was in third and Scituate's Nick Pietrantozzi was in fourth.

"We had to get Pietrantozzi," Bennett said. "Carlton Eaton was in fifth just behind the fourth runner. I told him, 'You got to get him for a shot, it's your last senior dual meet.' He went from fifth to third and came to within a second of Nick. I'm proud of our guys bouncing back."

There was no catching Scituate's Ian Gould, a Second-Team All-Stater last season, as he finished first with a time of 17:17. His teammate Matt Vinacco was second at 17:23. Courtemanche took third at 17:33, and his teammate, John Pagliaro finished fourth in 17:36. Pietrantozzi took fifth in 17:42.

"Adam (Courtemanche) went out hard," Bennett said. "He was six seconds out of the lead and finished real strong. John (Pagliaro) has been the most consistent and finished a pretty strong second (for us)."

Bennett said that when the runners came out of the woods after the two-mile mark, he saw that Scituate held the first, second, and fourth spots while his runners were third, fifth, sixth, and seventh.

The Spartans finished eighth, while the Sentinels took ninth place.

"We were down 25-30 and knew it would be very difficult to overcome, but we were in striking distance," Bennett said. "It's a testament to the kids."

To earn the tie, the hosts had to push to displace Eaton, and they did as he took sixth in 17:43 and a North Smithfield runner took seventh. Smithfield's Chris Anderson took eighth and Dan McCutcheon took ninth.

Bennett said that McCutcheon was still working on the transition from soccer to cross country and is a work in progress.

"My last runner, Cosimo D'Elia, broke the 30 minute mark for the first time in his running career," Bennett said. "We are all real proud of him."

D'Elia was a football player, but could not longer play after suffering too many concussions, so he switched to cross country.

Now both the girls' and boys' teams can focus on the class and state meets.

"It's that time of year and we are working to peak at the right time," Bennett said. "We have a great bunch of guys and I enjoy coaching them. Jake (Dascoli), Dan (McCutcheon) and Carlton (Eaton), as captains, have given the younger kids good attitudes and a positive environment."

Marchand believes that both teams from Smithfield and Cumberland have a good chance to qualify for the New Englands by finishing in the top six in the state meet.