BURRILLVILLE – With just days before the official start to their 2013 season, the South Kingstown High School boys and girls cross country teams descended upon Burrillville Middle School last Saturday to take part in the annual RIIL Cross Country Injury Fund Carnival.
The Rebels girls team enter the 2013 season coming off back-to-back Class B championships and a five year span that has seen them lose just four regular season meets. They got the Injury Fund festivities going for South looking to defend their Casewell Race title in the very first race of the day.
South’s girls performed well in their first meet of the season, getting all of their top seven runners in the top 20 scoring positions, but were undone in their title defense by a dominant Coventry team that placed five of their runners in the race’s top 10.
Seniors Julie Munkelwitz and Kelly Reiss led the way for the Rebels with finishes of eighth and ninth, respectively, in times of 20:53.14 and 21:01.69, followed closely by freshman Abigail Cobb, who was 11th with a time of 21:33.41.
Malia Erickson was the fourth Rebel to finish the course, crossing the finish line five seconds behind Cobb and in 12th place. The sophomore duo of Naomi Fastovsky and Jenna Hannafin also took back-to-back finishes for South, coming in 16th and 17th, while senior Julianna Liberas was the final runner of record for SK, finishing the race in the 20th scoring position (21st overall) with a time of 22:28.59.
Sophomores Callie Krekorian (25th) and Hallie Manchester (29th) also finished in the race’s top 30.
South’s boys team faced a much stiffer task when they took to the course next for the Bill Gray race, being placed in a field that included reigning state and New England champion Bishop Hendricken.
Despite coming into the year off a Class B championship, the 2013 Rebel boys are facing a rebuilding year having lost three of their top four runners from last year to graduation. The team’s overall numbers are strong and future is bright with 38 on the roster, 20 of who are freshmen, but taking the jump up to Class A this fall means it could be a tough season for the Rebels.
“We were hit a little hard last year with graduation because our No. 1, 2 and 4 runners all graduated and they were all All-Division, All-Class runners, so we’re looking to fill the void of those guys,” said coach Jim Champion. “…It’s going to be a rebuilding year, I’m not going to lie to you, but you look down the road and you see 20 freshmen coming at you, you have high hopes for the future.
“The attitude and the effort has been outstanding. I love the work ethic I’ve seen so far. …The kids showed a lot of determination, hard work and it’s been a pleasure so far working with them as they show up every day. I tell them what to do and they just say ‘Yes, coach,’ and they do it.”
Unlike the girls team, the boys could not run in as close packs, finishing farther back and farther apart from one another as they finished fourth in the nine team field behind Hendricken, Coventry and Prout.
Senior tri-captain Derrick Yang, last year’s No. 3 varsity runner, paced the group on Saturday as the first Rebel to cross the line, scoring in 12th with an overall finish of 20th in a time of 17:46.96. Juniors Matt Sheehy and Paul Sayour finished second and third for the Rebels, scoring 27th and 29th, respectively, with a 47th place finish in a time of 19:09.14 and 52nd place finish in 19:29.34.
Sophomore Jacob Liberis and senior tri-captain Scott Clancy rounded out the top five for South, with back-to-back finishes in the 34th and 35th scoring positions (62nd and 63rd overall). Junior Mike McGovern was the sixth Rebel to complete the course, scoring in 37th (68th overall), while sophomore Zach Benoit rounded out SK’s top seven, scoring in 38th place (70th overall).
Both Rebel teams will run their first official race of the 2013 schedule this coming Monday. They will travel to the Grills Preserve in Westerly for a 4 p.m. dual meet with West Warwick and host Westerly.