PAWTUCKET – The meet started out cold and damp and finished in a monsoon on Monday afternoon, but the St. Raphael Academy boys’ and girls’ cross country teams easily swept their dual meets with their neighboring rivals at Slater Park’s 3.1-mile course.
The boys’ team blanked Tolman and Shea by 15-50 scores to wrap up their 9-1 dual-meet record in the Metropolitan Division. The Saints will finish in second place, just behind undefeated La Salle Academy.
The girls’ team, meanwhile, ran a tough race to defeat Bay View, 27-32, and the Lincoln School, 20-45, while also shutting out Shea and Tolman by 15-50 scores.
Both wins kept the Pawtucket city cross country championship in the Saints’ hands. Both squads captured their seventh straight championships and 11th in the last 12 years – Tolman had last captured both titles in 2014.
The boys’ race went off first, and even though a runner from Shea took the early lead, the Saints banded together to run in a pack and had eight finishers among the top 10, including the winner, senior Patrick MacDonald, who posted a time of 17:18. Senior teammate Jack Pereira finished a second behind him, and the third-place finisher was Shea’s Joel Da Cruz in 17:23.
“We ran as a pack today, and we’re just trying to practice that,” SRA head coach Chris Magill said. “We want to go into the big meets and keep that spread from one-to-five and one-to-seven as close as possible. The boys ran well and we were able to win today, so I’m very happy about that.”
After seeing their top All-American runner, Darius Kipyego, graduate and continue his track and field career at Iowa State University, the Saints have another Kipyego to keep them going in Devan, who is now a junior, and Magill said that he has been leading the way.
“He didn’t win today, but that was kind of by design,” Magill said of Kipyego. “He won his first five races and he won the big Ocean State Invitational. We’ll see how he does now coming into championship season.”
Kipyego finished the race in sixth place with a time of 17:26, a second behind teammate and junior Pedro Mayol, who rounded out the top five in 17:25. Magill highlighted Mayol and Pereira, and he said that they now just need to work on getting their number four and five runners to come in and close the gap.
Another senior who finished in the top 10 for SRA was Joshua Farrell, who placed fourth in a time of 17:25, but a split second ahead of Mayol. Junior Andrew Worden finished seventh in 17:27, freshman Alex Ramos placed eighth in 17:44, and freshman Gianni Santagata took ninth place in 18:47.
The girls, meanwhile, got the brunt of the rain, but made it count, as their four victories helped them improve from a 3-5 record in 2020 to 7-5 season this fall.
“The girls had a tight meet between Bay View and Lincoln, two very good teams,” said Magill. “But we were able to sneak through those, so we’re very happy to end the season with the girls with a winning record. We had a losing record last year, but we ended up going 7-5 for the year, so we’re very proud of them.”
The top female finisher was Mia Barrus, a sophomore out of The Lincoln School, who posted a time of 19-54. The Saints’ top finisher was sophomore Chandaniey Boyce, who took third place in 20:28; junior Tyla Forbes also placed fifth in 20:51, and senior Valeria Uribe was seventh in 21:32.
“They got through maybe two-thirds of the race and the sky opened up,” Magill said. “But the girls are tough, so we’re proud of them. It’s real cross country weather. When the rain started falling, I almost felt like our girls started running faster. Maybe they wanted to get out of the rain. But they ran fantastic today.”
SRA also swept the eighth through 11 places behind freshmen Faith Perry (22:01) and Jaala Smith (22:04), senior Meghan Cabral (22:07), and sophomore Lindsay Cobb (22:15).
“I’ve been working with the girls’ team for a while,” Magill said. “It seems like they are coming together and gelling as a team.”
Boyce and Forbes have been battling for the top two spots, Magill said, while Uribe stepped up into the number three role and did a nice job Monday.
With their dual-meet season over, the Saints will now travel to invitational meets to help prepare them for the class, state, and New England championship meets. Magill said his teams will run in the Manhattan College Invitational this weekend.
The head coach also said that he hopes both the boys’ and girls’ teams can finish high in the class championship meet. At the state meet, he said everyone is battling for the top six spots to qualify for the New England meet.
“Hopefully, we’ll piece it together,” he said about the boys’ team looking to earn a spot at the New Englands.