All Saints Day

All Saints Day

St. Raphael Academy junior Rachael Mongeau, right, runs side by side with Barrington High senior Caroline Livingston, left, and La Salle Academy junior Kaylie Armitage in the woods during the first mile of the girls’ race at last Saturday afternoon’s RIIL Championships at Ponaganset High. Armitage captured the race in a time of 18:24.03 that was 4.03 seconds quicker than Livingston and seven seconds faster than Mongeau. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
SRA boys’ cross country team grab first trip to New Englands since 2001; Mongeau, Kipyego cop First-Team All-State honors

NORTH SCITUATE – Twenty minutes after the boys’ race at last Saturday afternoon’s RIIL Championships was in the books, St. Raphael Academy head cross country coach Chris Magill made the long, anxious walk around the outside of Ponaganset High’s track and toward the concession stand at the 50-yard line of the football field, where the results of the boys’ meet were taped to the front of the stand.

Midway through his walk, Magill received a call on his cell phone from an SRA supporter who beat him to the concession stand. The conversation was brief, but Magill hung on every word of it before hanging up his phone and jubilantly pumping his fist in the air.

“Sixth!” he yelled. “We took sixth! We’re going to New Englands!”

On a day in which a lot of things went very well for the Saints, from juniors Rachael Mongeau and Darius Kipyego earning First-Team All-State honors to senior Nasavell Medeiros landing a spot among the Second-Team All-State runners for the second straight year, the news of the boys’ team clinching its first berth in the New England Championships since 2001 clearly put an exclamation point on an amazing afternoon.

As expected, La Salle Academy, which took six of the top 10 places to win the state championship with 26 points, and Bishop Hendricken, which took three of the top nine to end up with 65, led the way in the team standings, with Chariho (143), Cumberland (154), and Classical (183) leading the way for the public schools.

But the Saints captured sixth place, and the state’s final berth in Saturday’s New England meet at Wickham Park in Manchester, Conn., by scoring 195 points, just seven fewer than 7th-place Westerly, and it took a team effort, as well as SRA’s number seven runner, freshman Andrew Worden, to seal the deal.

“We’re very, very excited,” Magill admitted. “I knew it was going to be close and I knew it was going to take seven guys. And our seventh guy, Andrew Worden, was our fifth man. I can’t say enough about his performance. We know about Darius and Nas, but with our (numbers) four or five guys not running well, Andrew saved the day today. He’s going to get a free lunch!”

Worden took 95th place in a time of 18:09.78, and that finish was sorely needed because the Bulldogs placed their top five runners among the top 62, but saw their top harrier take 19th place.

Kipyego led the Saints by placing sixth out of 148 runners in a time of 15:56.43. As Kipyego sped into the final 100 yards of the race locked in a battle for seventh place with La Salle’s Tyler Chambers, who finished eighth in 15:57.09, Kipyego poured on the jets that earned him All-American honors as a middle distance runner this year. And not only did he outkick Chambers, but he also sprinted past La Salle’s Alex Maxwell, who to his dismay, settled for seventh place, 0.01 of a second behind Kipyego.

Medeiros, meanwhile, took 14th place for the second straight year, doing so in 16:24.79, and the Saints’ next two finishers were also the top two freshmen in the race, Pedro Mayol, who took 40th place in 17:12.82, and Devan Kipyego, who placed 57th in 17:25.35.

“We’re just absolutely ecstatic right now,” remarked Magill. “Finishing sixth in the state – just coming from four or five years ago, when we finished last in the Class (C championship race) – and now we’re going to New Englands. It’s such a great feeling. We live to see another day. Eleventh (place at the state meet) last year and sixth this year. We are pumped. Things are coming around, and hopefully we can continue the trend.”

The Saints’ top individual performance of the meet came from Mongeau in the girls’ race, which contained 141 runners, as she hooked up in a battle for first place from start to finish with La Salle junior Kaylie Armitage and Barrington senior Caroline Livingston.

Mongeau never led in the race, but stayed on Armitage’s heels before Armitage eventually pulled away and won the race in a time of 18:24.03 that was 4.03 seconds quicker than Livingston and seven seconds faster than Mongeau.

“I just felt really good today,” said Mongeau, who earned First-Team All-State honors last season by finishing seventh in a time of 19:25.89. “I was happy because I had some competition to push me this time, so it was a really fun race.”

“That girl is a gamer,” said Magill, who also saw freshman Tyla Forbes place 83rd in 22:10.30. “I’m so proud of Rachael. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her run bad. She listens to everything she’s told and she’s just an amazing athlete. I don’t know if she’s quite five feet, but when she’s out there in a race, she certainly stands tall. We had a game plan to try and win the race today, and she stuck right there. And it was a fun, fun race to watch.”

St. Raphael Academy junior Darius Kipyego, left, gets ready to outkick Alex Maxwell during the final 50 yards of the boys’ race. Kipyego took sixth place in a time of 15:56.43 that edged Maxwell by 0.01 of a second.