SMITHFIELD – It’s been an annual tradition of the Sentinel Striders’ youth running club to send a large group of runners to the USATF National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships, and for the past few years, the Striders have boarded flights down south to Florida and Alabama and as far west as Reno, Nev.
And for the second time in the last three years, the Striders will be en route to Kentucky, and the town of Paris, just outside Lexington, for this month’s championship meet, which is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11, at Bourbon County Park.
Veteran Striders coach Jeff Kurbec reported on Monday afternoon that the Striders will most likely ship 17 runners, “mainly younger ones and no one older than the 9th grade,” to the Bluegrass State, and that includes a team in the girls’ ages 11-12 division that took third place at the Region 1 meet on Sunday, Nov. 21, at Highland Park in nearby Attleboro.
At the Region 1 meet, two runners with ties to Cumberland took first place in their respective age divisions, “and will have a shot to place pretty high,” noted Kurbec. Cooper Magill captured the boys’ 8-10 division’s 1.86-mile race in a time of 10:48, and Cecilia Ludwig won the girls’ 11-12 division’s 3K race in 10:48.
Also taking top honors for the Striders in thee boys’ ages 15-16 division was Mount Saint Charles Academy sophomore Ethan Fadden, who toured the 3.1-mile course in a time of 17:08.
Locally, six Smithfield runners cracked the top 10 in their races, and two did so in the girls’ 8-under group’s 1.24-mile race. Maeve Bates took sixth place in a time of 8:28, and Adrionna Taylor placed eighth in 8:44.
In the boys’ ages 17-18 division’s 3.1-mile event, Ethan Maione, who graduated from Smithfield High this past spring, took sixth place in 17:33, and in the girls’ ages 15-16 division’s 5K, Maritza Howard, who is a freshman on the Smithfield High girls’ cross country team, finished eighth in 22:51.
The ages 9-10 division also saw the boys take second place in the team standings and Cameron Pakler (5th place, 11:09) and Colin Smith (10th, 11:15) land top-10 finishes.
Among the local runners to place among the top 30 in their age divisions were Jackson Farrell (25th) and Seth Borden (29th) in the boys’ 8-under division, Will Busam (26th) in the boys’ 11-12 division, and Mackenzie Ahern (29th) in the girls’ 11-12 division.
Also taking part in the meet was Scituate Middle School student Mackenzie Lickert, who was one of six 12-year-old runners to compete in the girls’ 13-14 race. Lickert stepped onto the medal stand by taking 28th place in a time of 15:53 that topped the other five 12-year-olds.
Seven days earlier, the Striders were in action at the New England meet at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, N.H., and Magill again highlighted the meet by capturing the boys’ 9-10 race in a time of 11:18 and helping his group of Striders again place second in the standings. Pakler took sixth place in 11:50, and Smith was three seconds behind him in eighth place.
The Striders also struck gold in the boys’ 15-16 age division by taking five of the top six places, and among the top finishers was Fadden, who won the race in a time of 16:52, and Smithfield High junior Reilly Bennett, who placed fifth in 17:31, and St. Raphael Academy junior Andrew Worden, who finished sixth in 17:35.
In the boys’ 17-18 division, Maione finished fifth in 17:42 and Smithfield High senior Andrew Kelley placed eighth in 19:04, and cracking the top 20 in the boys’ 13-14 division were Smithfield High freshmen Marcus Miller (15th 14:28) and Michael Goodson (17th, 14:30).
Several other local runners also claimed top-30 finishes: Borden (22nd, boys; 8-under division), Busam (26th, boys’ 11-12 division), and Farrell (27th, boys’ 8-under division).
On the girls’ side, Bates (5th place, 9:53), and Taylor (7th, 10:13) again placed in the top 10 of the 8-under division. Howard placed 11th (22:33) in the 15-16 division, and Alyssa Parenteau finished 19th (15:59) in the 13-14 division.
Also among the top 30 were Grace Borden (21st, 14:26) in the 9-10 group, and Chloe Albaret (27th) and Meaghan Bennett (29th), who helped the Striders place third in the 11-12 standings.