WEST WARWICK — The Labor Day Memorial 5k race in Memory of Sgt. Brian St. Germain and Thomas P. Medeiros is held in honor of two former West Warwick High cross country runners who died far too early. But in the first six years of the event a West Warwick High cross country runner has never won the race. That changed on a muggy Monday morning when West Warwick senior Jon Paquet took control of the race, which winds down Main St., Providence St. and Riverpoint Park, on his way to an impressive victory in a time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds. “It turned out to be a very good first race for me,” Paquet said after beating second-place finisher Michael Hennessey of Barrington by 86 seconds. “I was trying to break 18 minutes so that was a very good time. My knee was bothering me all summer so I only started training hard a few weeks ago. I’ve just been building mileage. “This win is special because I am a senior in my last year. It’s even more special than it would have been a couple of years ago. I just love coming here to run and the people who setup the race are great.” Last year’s champion, West Warwick’s Michael Daniels, didn’t run this race this year. Daniels won last year’s race in 17:46, while 2009 champion Eric Lonergan of North Kingstown holds the course record at 16:17. Monday’s win also marks the first time a high-school runner has won the title. Last season Paquet didn’t run in the race and he said his junior campaign didn’t go the way he wanted after showing promise as a sophomore. Paquet hopes Monday’s victory will be the start of a strong senior campaign for a West Warwick squad competing in the Southern Division with state powerhouses like Chariho, East Greenwich and North Kingstown.
“I hope this will be the start of a breakthrough season,” Paquet said. “Last year I didn’t improve as much as I would have liked.” West Warwick cross country coach Wayne Marsocci, who is in his first season in charge of the Wizards, said he was pleased with Paquet’s effort. “The goal coming in was to run under 18 and I think he looked so strong he could have run a lot faster, to be honest with you,” Marsocci said. “This fits well for him and I think it will help us pick up the pace in practice. I had no idea what these guys could run in a race, now I have an idea.” Marsocci, who coaches the school’s indoor and outdoor track teams, said he told Pequet to take a new pre-race approach Monday. Instead of a spirited warm-up, Pequet opted for a lighter pre-race run and it appeared to pay off. Paquet started the race at a solid pace as he covered the first mile in 5:30. Paquet was rarely challenged, but West Warwick High graduate and current Jr. Post Two assistant coach Chris Mann pushed the Wizard for the first mile. Mann, who was running with a soft cast on his right arm after having Tommy John surgery just five weeks ago, runs the race every year and always seems to run a strong mile. The heat and humidity appeared to catch up to Mann as the 21-year old finished in 24th place. While Paquet was the run away winner, there was a battle for the next three positions. Hennessey beat Putnam, Conn. runner Scott Deslongchamps to the line by three seconds for second place. West Warwick’s Matt Beltrami was a further four seconds back in fourth place. “This is the best I’ve seen him run,” Marsocci said of Paquet. “He looked very strong coming into the finish line. It’s nice to see a high-school kid win this race.” This year, just like every year of the race, the entire West Warwick cross country program ran the race. David Marold, 15, ran a 20:46 to finish in ninth place. Nick Motroni, 14, was 16th, while sophomore Marcus Suggs was 31st in a time of 23:55. The highest-placed West Warwick High female runner was Nicole McAdams in 53rd place. Thirteen-year old Dana Barclay finished 55th in 26 minutes. Warwick’s Lauren Leslie, 50, was just as dominant as Paquet in the female division. Leslie finished 10th overall in a time of 20:51, one second ahead of West Warwick’s Richard Silva. The next closest female finisher was Coventry’s Michelle Lambert. Lambert was 21st overall in a time of 22:18. “It was very hot humid today and I have a lot of miles and races in my legs, but I’m very happy with how I ran,” Leslie said. “It was tough and we had a headwind coming back up the hill. I always like to run a sub-20, but that wasn’t possible today.”
To view more photos from the race, please visit www.risportsphoto.com