Second no more: McLoughlin captures R.I. cross country title

Second no more: McLoughlin captures R.I. cross country title

Bishop Hendricken senior Evan Reynolds, right, struggles to catch up to La Salle Academy senior Jack McLoughlin as they exit the woods during the final mile of last Saturday’s state championship meet at Ponaganset High. McLoughlin, who hails from Cumberland, won the 3.1-mile race in a time of 15:27.32 that topped Reynolds by 5.84 seconds. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Casey, Mongeau cop First-Team All-State honors

GLOCESTER – Jack McLoughlin was not going to be denied.

After taking second place in the previous weekend’s Class A meet and last season’s state meet and Nike Cross Northeast Regional Championships, the Cumberland native and La Salle Academy senior finally struck gold at last Saturday’s RIIL Cross Country Championships by turning in a memorable performance on Ponaganset High’s 3.1-mile course.

Thanks to a strong kick in the final kilometer of the boys’ race, McLoughlin was able to win the state championship in a time of 15:27.32 that topped Bishop Hendricken senior Evan Reynolds by 5.84 seconds and La Salle teammate and classmate Chase Leach by 7.66.

“I’ve never been happier in my life,” said McLoughlin, who had lost the Class A race to Reynolds by 0.77 of a second, “especially with my team right behind me, and we won (the state championship) as well. It feels great.”

McLoughlin, who 24 hours earlier, had signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his running and academic career at Georgetown University, was locked in a three-way duel for the lead through the first two miles with Reynolds and Leach, with plenty of real estate separating them from the eventual fourth-place finisher, St. Raphael Academy senior Darius Kipyego.

McLoughlin tried to break away from Reynolds and Leach at the two-mile mark, “but Evan and Chase are such good athletes that they kind of stuck with me,” he recalled. “Under the (covered) bridge with (0.62 of a mile) to go, I said to myself, ‘I have to do it now or else I’m not going to be able to win this race,’ so I put down a little surge.”

“I came around (toward the finish line) with about 150-200 (yards) to go, and my coach was screaming at me that I’d been here before and I’d been so close,” continued McLoughlin, who was the 2019 Gatorade R.I. Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year. “I just wanted to put it away at that point.”

After Kipyego crossed the finish line, La Salle sewed up its state title by grabbing three of the next five spots, and among that group was junior Jack Casey, a Cumberland native, who took sixth place in a time of 16:08.08 to join McLaughlin among the First-Team All-State selections.

“Casey works hard,” said McLoughlin. “He’s one of the most hardest working guys on this team. He had an injury his freshman year, and to see him come back from that and get First-Team All-State is awesome.”

Two more Cumberland natives sporting the singlets of private schools also earned Second-Team All-State honors. La Salle junior Adam Thibodeau nailed down his team’s championship by taking ninth place in 16:15.50, and Mount Saint Charles Academy senior Ryan Slaney placed 13th in 16:22.49.

Cumberland High’s top finisher was junior Henry Dennen, who earned Third-Team All-State honors by grabbing 16th place in 16:29.64, and two of his teammates were also able to finish among the top 35, as junior Ethan Carpenter took 28th place in 16:47.55 and sophomore Cole McCue placed 32nd in 16:49.50.

Also placing in the top 70 were Lincoln native and St. Raphael Academy junior Pedro Mayol (33th, 16:53.14), Cumberland seniors Jake Gilson (44th place, 17:11.63) and Owen Molis (59th, 17:51.42), and Lincoln High junior Ben Martins (69th, 18:00.85) and sophomore Nathan Evans (18:01.34).

The Clippers, who took third place and was the top public school team in last year’s state meet, was hoping to duplicate that performance, but North Kingstown took that spot by scoring 152 points. The Clippers and Chariho tied for fourth with 166, but Cumberland was awarded fourth place because its number five runner, Molis, finished four places better than the Chargers’ fifth finisher.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, one of their runners, junior John Walker, suffered a spill at the start of the race and was unable to finish it. Walker, who finished the Class A meet with a time of 17:00.13, would have probably cracked the top 40 had he not fallen and come close to duplicating that performance.

“We didn’t meet our goal,” said Cumberland boys’ head coach Kerrie Carpenter. “We had our number four guy get knocked down in the first 200 (yards). He was dealing with an Achilles issue, so I think that was a little too much strain and trauma for him to have to recover from. One guy goes down, it’s tough to recover from that. We did enough to get the tiebreaker, but our goal is always to be that number one public school and the best team that we can be.”

In the girls’ race, the top local finish came from Cumberland native and St. Raphael Academy senior Rachael Mongeau, who placed fifth in a time of 18:37.35 to earn First-Team All-State honors for the third straight season.

Mongeau stayed on the heels of the top three runners, East Greenwich sophomore Reese Fahys, who won the race in 17:43.51, La Salle senior Kaylie Armitage, who was second in 17:58.53, and Moses Brown sophomore Sophia Gorriaran, who took third in 18:14.07. But just when it looked like the Monmouth University-bound Mongeau was going to end up in fourth place, East Greenwich sophomore Rylee Shunney managed to catch up to Mongeau in the final quarter mile and grab that spot in a time of 18:25.97.

“Right when the gun went off, I was looking for Kaylie and them so I could stick with them for a little bit and see how it felt, what they were planning on doing,” recalled Mongeau. “I kind of fell back a little bit, just to not kill myself, and I ran alone for a good mile-and-a-half. Right toward the end, (Shunney) caught me, and I kind of stayed on her back until the end, and she just kicked it in.”

“St. Ray’s has never had a girl finish First-Team All-State three times,” offered Cumberland resident and SRA head coach Chris Magill. “In some respect, she’s the best cross country runner in St. Ray’s history. If you look at the full body of work over four years – a two-time Class C champion, a two-time runner-up, and what she’s done (at the state meet) – it’s just amazing.”

Receiving Third-Team All-State honors were Blackstone Valley Prep junior Lucy Noris, who finished 15th in a time of 19:30.11, and Cumberland native and La Salle freshman Bridget Casey, who took 20th place in a time of 19:44.34.

Noris, who had placed 56th at last year’s state meet, became the second BVP scholar in the school’s young history to earn All-State honors, joining classmate Bryan Zapata, who was a Second-Team All-State selection in swimming last winter.

The Clippers, who took sixth place in the standings with 195 points, just six behind 5th-place South Kingstown, were led by their top two seniors: Bailee Brown, who placed 33rd in 20:25.59, and Olivia Belt, who finished 39th in 20:41.14.

Cumberland also saw its next four runners cross the finish line within striking distance of each other, as sophomore Grace Carr placed 48th in 21:07.07 and senior Lizzie Pickering (21:13.40), freshman Grace Belt (21:15.64), and sophomore Susanna Henderson (21:20.55) swept the 50th through 52nd place. Also finishing in under 22 minutes were Cumberland sophomore Emma Peterson (61st, 21:36.16) and Lincoln freshman Sequoia Drolet (62nd, 21:39.70).

Jack Casey, a Cumberland native and a La Salle Academy junior, earned First-Team All-State honors at last Saturday’s state championship meet by taking sixth place in a time of 16:08.08.
Cumberland native and Blackstone Valley Prep junior Lucy Noris, shown exiting the woods and making her way toward the finish line during last Saturday afternoon’s state championship meet at Ponaganset High, became the second student-athlete in her school’s history to earn All-State honors, as she clinched a spot among the Third-Team selections by taking 15th place in a time of 19:30.11. That marked a significant improvement from her 56th-place finish at last season’s meet.