WOOD RIVER JCT.—Talent at the top is important but in cross country depth is king.
Chariho didn’t have a boy or girl finish first in the season opening races with Narragansett and Exeter-West Greenwich Monday afternoon yet each team won their dual meet by a comfortable margin.
“A lot of people have stepped up and a lot of people have done their work over the summer,” Chariho girls coach Diane Leith-Doucett said. “We’ve got some good new freshmen in that mix and then people came back. We’re just deeper this year.”
Narragansett’s Marissa McPhillips won the girls race with a time of 19:16 but the Chargers took the meet 22-38 over the Mariners and 15-50 over Exeter-West Greenwich.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” McPhillips said of how things have gone early on for her and her team. “I did a lot more training in this summer and it’s been a lot more mileage.”
“…We have one good freshman that just came in, we have a bunch of other girls that have been here that are improving greatly so it’s been going pretty well. I’m just hoping we can get some more girls to join the team.”
The Knights did not score as a team in the meet as seniors Katie Millar and Erica Marcus – who finished in fourth and 18th with times of 20:44 and 27:26, respectively – were the only EWG runners to enter.
For the Chargers, juniors Isabel Baker and Caroline Duksta led the way in second and third, respectively, with times of 19:41 and 20:30.
“It was a great race today,” Leith-Doucett said. “Isabel had a massive PR on the home course today.
“…We had a really nice, tight pack where our four, five, six, seven and eight were all packed in. It was a really good day for us.”
After Millar Chariho senior Paige Ross took fifth in 21:55, Narragansett’s Emily McNeiece came in 10 seconds later in sixth and Chargers Delaney Silvestri, Kerry Wallbillich, Natalie Keefe and Evelyn Siler occupied spots seven through 10.
Rounding out the top five for Narragansett were a pack of three runners who finished 19th through 21st in MaraJean Hagen-Spath in 27:53, Erika Chapasko in 28:08 and Christa Poulos in 28:09.
“Outstanding effort by all the girls today,” Narragansett coach Robert Shields said. “They made great strides forward individually and as a team they really worked together and ran some great races.”
On the boys side, Exeter-West Greenwich senior Mike Dampier crushed the competition, winning the race in 16:18 nearly one full minute ahead of Chariho junior Jung Kim (17:15).
“All summer my team and I have been working really hard, packing in the mileage,” Dampier said. “I hit about 70 miles last summer at my peak so it really pays off when you come to meets like this and can go out and win.”
Much like the girls’ race though, the Chargers’ superior depth carried them to victory as Kim led a pack of five runners that took the next five spots in a 20-41 victory over the Knights and 15-50 win over the Mariners.
Junior Mitchell Carrier (17:29), senior Andrew Sardelli (17:47), senior Matt Drummond (17:55) and junior Nate Claire (18:09) took the next four spots before EWG senior Adam Sowden broke up the run of Chargers with a seventh place result in 18:17.
“We always give out a race rock award and I’m almost positive Nate Claire is going to get it because that was a huge race for him,” Chariho boys coach Bill Haberek said. “…He was anxious to run and my goodness he certainly proved himself.”
“…This is a great team, they’re real enthusiastic and they work hard.”
It was a strong day for the Chargers, particularly considering they were without one of their top runners in senior Stephen Gencarelli.
“He rolled his ankle,” Haberek said. “He tried running a little bit [Sunday] and it was painful so he went to the physical therapist and I guess he just popped it out. I guess it’s OK. He probably needs to do a little [physical therapy] with it but I think he’ll be OK.”
Chariho junior Andrew Ferrigno, senior Kahekee Northup, senior Alden Andrea, senior Teal Migliaccio and junior Matt Tierney took spots seven through 12 before Narragansett’s first runner – junior Ryan Tudino – crossed the line in 13th with a time of 18:41.
Tudino’s Mariner teammate, freshman Liam Carberry, finished just after in 14th in 18:45, freshman Max Laurie and senior Ben Rauh (19:14) finished tied for 19th and junior Jared McConnell (19:48) rounded out the top five for the Mariners in 25th.
“It was a good day. The boys ran very well,” Shields said. “We didn’t necessarily finish the way we wanted to, however, we had a great start to the race and the middle of the race looked very good for all of the runners.”
Rounding out the top five for the Knights were senior Donald Galloway in 17th (19:01), junior Nick Soucy in 18th (19:09) and junior Robert Healy in 22nd (19:36).
Overall it was a good day for EWG, scoring a 23-33 win over Narragansett after failing to field five runners in a meet most of last season.
“Seeing as we actually have a team this year – a full team – without injuries we’ve got a good chance of making it to states as a team,” Dampier said. “Last year we had three guys make states but didn’t make it as a team so we’re going places.”
All three teams will be back in action on the road Monday at 4 p.m.
The Chargers will face Westerly and Middletown at St. George’s, South Kingstown will host Prout and the Knights and Narragansett will travel to Ryan Park for a meet with North Kingstown at West Warwick.