Burrillville races past Smithfield squads

Burrillville races past Smithfield squads

Smithfield seniors Ashlyn Maio, left, and Anna Logan, right, took the top two places for their girls’ team in last week’s Northern Division dual-meet finale at Burrillville Middle School, but the host Broncos grabbed the next four places (and six of the next eight) to squeak out a 26-30 victory. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Cross country teams conclude Northern Division dual-meet seasons with 10-2 records, turn attention to Class C meet

BURRILLVILLE – The Smithfield High boys’ and girls’ cross country squads wrapped up their respective Northern Division dual-meet seasons with 10-2 records, but they were unable to end their seasons on a winning note.

Competing in a four-team meet last Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Burrillville Middle School’s course, both Sentinel teams were able to shut out Central Falls and North Providence by 15-50 scores, but the boys suffered a 27-30 loss to the Broncos and the girls fell to their hosts, 26-30.

It was a windy, cool start to the afternoon that turned muggy. The boys’ race was first, with the first 15 finishers either being a runner from Burrillville or Smithfield. Burrillville’s Mitchell Dailey blew away the competition with a winning time of 16:39 that topped the second-place finisher, Smithfield junior Ethan Maione, by 23 seconds.

After Burrillville took the next two spots, Smithfield juniors Zach Isble took fifth place in a time of 17:38, and his classmate, Chris Olean, finished sixth in 17:39. Olean just came back for this meet after being out with an injury.

The Sentinels also captured the eighth through 10th places behind sophomore Unwana Okokon (18:07), freshman Camden Maione (18:09), and senior Mike Herchen (18:12), but the Broncos claimed the places they needed to nip Smithfield by three points.

“Burrillville ran very well with Mitchell and Garrett (Dailey),” Smithfield boys’ head coach Joe Bennett said. “Basically, they won the meet (by placing) 3-4 on us. We needed to break them up there, and we were more than capable of doing it. (Burrillville) ran well and we were off.”

“The guys know it,” added Bennett. “I don’t need to say it to them. It was a tough day for us. Today was a bit of an upset.”

Bennett has a huge team this year, with 29 runners, 12 of them freshmen, and two of the other top 9th-graders on the team have been Bennett’s son, Reilly, and Elijah Saddlemire.

The Sentinels’ freshmen won the Injury Fund Freshmen Meet to start the season, and they were the first Rhode Island team (as well as the third-place squad) in the 9th-grade race at the Ocean State Invitational on Sept. 28 at Goddard Park.

“We have some exciting things going on,” Bennett admitted. “But we are a better team than we showed today. Hats off to coach (Marty) Crowley and (coach) Samantha (Stanton). Their kids ran great today and they deserved it.”

The team is led by senior captains Tim Ferron, Michael Herchen, Stephen Herchen, and Vedant Bhagat. Ferron, who hopes to attend the Naval Academy, placed 11th with a time of 18:20, and right behind him were two of his teammates, Saddlemire in 12th place and junior Aidan Sayles in 13th.

While the Sentinel boys’ team finished its season in a tie for second place with Burrillville and Lincoln – Cumberland won the regular-season title with a 12-0 mark – the girls ended up in third place behind the Clippers (12-0) and Broncos (11-1).

“We knew it was going to be close coming in,” Smithfield girls’ head coach John Marchand said. “I told the girls, ‘We ran well, but (Burrillville) just beat us. They were just better.’ It happens. But I’m thrilled with the way we ran. I’m obviously disappointed that we lost, but I’m happy for Burrillville – they do a good job. It’s a tough loss, but it gives us something to shoot for in the class meet.”

Senior Ashlyn Maio placed first in a time of 20:44, and Marchand said he was proud of her, as she turned her ankle at the two-mile mark. He said that Maio said it hurt when it happened, but not as much, as she continued on.

Senior Anna Logan also took second place for Smithfield in 21:20, but the next four finishers were from Burrillville.

“(Burrillville) had a lot of depth out there, a lot of young runners,” Marchand added. “I knew they were good. They had a great race plan and they went out hard. But our girls all hit their mile splits, which is all you can ask for, and a lot of our girls ran their fastest time all season. I know this is a fast course, but I still think we ran well.”

The Sentinels, who only have nine active runners, are led by their four senior captains in Maio, Logan, Alyssa Cournoyer, and Grace Horton, who took seventh place in a time of 22:12. Also placing in the top dozen were sophomore Audrey Turcotte, who finished ninth in 23:12, and Alana Urizar, who was 11th in 23:28.

“I like to keep the focus on what we can control, and I’m not really a big excuse guy,” Marchand added. “It is what it is – we have nine, that’s the reality. But they’re nine good kids who work hard, and you can win with nine just as well as you can (win) with 16.”

Marchand said they will see Burrillville again at the Class C championship meet, as well as some other top-notch teams, such as St. Raphael Academy and the Prout School.

“We know now no matter what place it is – it doesn’t have to be first – it will be a good measuring stick for us to try and show we improved,” he added. “It will be a good team goal to have, and we’ll see if we can back at (Burrillville) and maybe give them a good run.”

Both the Sentinel boys’ and girls’ teams will run in the Class C meet on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Ponaganset High. The state meet will be the following Saturday back at Ponaganset.