Rene captures Glocester Fourth of July 5.5M race

Rene captures Glocester Fourth of July 5.5M race

Chepachet resident and recent Bishop Hendricken High graduate Matt Rene shows off his first-place trophy after capturing last Thursday’s 46th annual Glocester 5.5-Mile Road Race in a time of 32:28. Rene will continue his running career at Quinnipiac University in the fall. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Quinnipiac-bound runner braves heat to post 32:28 time; Ponaganset’s Drexler takes second place again

GLOCESTER – Matt Rene did his homework.

Before running in last Thursday morning’s 46th annual Glocester 5.5-Mile Road Race, the Chepachet resident and recent Bishop Hendricken High graduate logged onto, perused the race’s results from the past couple of years, and figured out what he’d need to do if he wanted to win the race.

“I knew that if I ran around a 5:50 pace (per mile), I could possibly win it,” he admitted. “As long as there wasn’t anyone exceptionally good in this race, I could win it.”

On a hot, humid morning, with temperatures sitting in the mid-80s, Rene wasn’t able to maintain a 5:50 pace, but his time of 32:28, which came out to a 5:55 pace, was still good enough to capture the race by 94 seconds.

Rene, who claimed third place in the 2017 race in 33:40 and fifth place in 2016, topped Ponaganset High senior-to-be Seth Drexler, who settled for runner-up honors for the second straight year and finished in the top eight for the fourth year in a row.

In last summer’s race, Drexler turned in a time of 32:24, only to lose to former PHS All-State runner Mike Macedo, who captured his sixth Fourth of July championship in the past eight years.

But last week, Macedo went to New Hampshire to serve as a groomsman at a friend’s wedding, which meant that all eyes were on Rene, who will be continuing his running career at Quinnipiac University in the fall, and Drexler, who is a member of the Northern R.I. High School Triathlon Club, as the favorites to capture the race.

Rene and Drexler were among four runners that broke away from the field a half mile into the race, but right after the first-mile mark, “I took the lead on the (first) hill and I dropped some of the other runners – one of them was Seth – and then I pretty much ran alone for the rest (of the race),” Rene recalled. “I just kept making the gap bigger.”

As for the course, which includes a 2½-mile stretch down sun-drenched Route 44 and toward the finish line next to Chepachet Union Church, “it’s very hilly,” Rene reported. “After the one-mile (mark) all the way to four (miles), there are a bunch of hills, and the last mile is downhill, but on a day like today that’s really hot – it’s like 85 degrees now – you can’t really push it.”

Greenville’s David Barrett seized third place in a 34:15 time, and another Greenville runner, Barry Bates, was 15 seconds behind him in fourth place.

Jonathan Wahl, a 2017 graduate and former runner at PHS, placed fifth in 35:09; Burrillville High senior-to-be Lucas Raimond finished sixth in 38:21, and the women’s winner, Louisa Bates, rounded out the top seven finishers in 38:33.

While 116 runners toured the challenging 5.5-mile course, another 111 took part in the 1.75-mile race and nearly 180 children participated in the mile and half-mile runs.

Grabbing top honors in the 1.8-mile race was another Hendricken runner, BHS junior-to-be Ryan Dyer, who capped an eventful 15-hour stretch by winning the race in a time of 10:29.

At the previous night’s 10th annual “Finish at the 50” 5K at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the home of the New England Patriots, Dyer topped a field of 2,915 runners in a 19:42 time.

In the children’s mile race, Chepachet’s Ian Etheridge took first place and Sentinel Striders runner Alyssa Parenteau was the girls’ winner, while in the half-mile race, Chepachet’s Daniel Rhodes was the overall winner and Burrillville’s Sophia Zampella was the top female finisher.

Ponaganset Middle School teacher Jamie LaRose extends her lead on a group of runners during the final stretch of last Thursday morning’s race. LaRose posted a time of 55:22.
Chepachet’s Daniel Rhodes is all by himself as he wins the children’s half-mile race.
Glocester Town Council member Walter Steere, who is a veteran runner, gets ready to head to the finish line.