NORTH SCITUATE — For the first mile of Sunday’s Rhode Island state girls cross country race at Ponaganset High’s Cover Bridge 5,000-meter course, everything was going according to plan for South Kingstown senior Paige Ethier.
Ethier, the runaway Class B champion, said her game plan was to shadow two-time defending state champion Molly Keating and make her move at the end of the race.
And the first time the top two runners flew past the covered bridge, Ethier was glued to Keating.
But by the time Keating made her way over the covered bridge 10 minutes later, the La Salle senior had opened up a 30-second lead on Ethier. Keating became the first female to win three straight titles by running the race in 18:24.85.
“I was just going way too fast if I wanted to stay near her. I had to slow down,” Ethier said. “She just continued to go. It was a little hard running most of the race by myself because I knew there were people behind me that were potentially drafting off of me.”
While second place wasn’t her goal coming into the meet, a runner-up finish in a time of 18:59 was still spectacular for the Rebel who moved up 32 spots from last season.
Ethier cut over 90 seconds off her time from her junior season.
She ended up fighting off a late charge from Barrington’s Abigial Livingston. The Eagle made a strong charge in the final 500 yards, but Ethier held her off by two seconds. North Kingstown junior Aisha McAdams was a further six seconds behind.
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