NORTH SCITUATE—Last fall the South Kingstown girls cross country went into the RI State Championships as Class B champs and hopeful for a top six spot.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, when everything settled they found themselves on the outside looking in at a top six spot and the berth to the New England Championships that goes with it.
Sunday afternoon at Ponaganset High School’s Covered Bridge Trail history repeated itself as SK finished in eighth place to once again miss out on New Englands.
“We did OK,” SK coach Sherry Hathaway said. “We were seeded seventh or eighth coming in based on the results from last week so I’m pleased with how we ran. A couple of them are disappointed with how they ran today but overall we had a great season and that’s what I tell them. It’s not just today but the season they had.”
Among the four local teams that qualified for states the SK girls had the highest finish, while the Prout girls came in 12th place. The Crusader boys ended the day in ninth place, while South – one of the last teams to qualify for the race – came in 18th place.
The day was not all lost for the locals though, as Prout’s Jess Elliott and Luke Emby and Narragansett’s Marissa McPhillips each qualified for New Englands as individuals by virtue of their performances Sunday.
McPhillips finished the race in 24th place in 20:02.97 in one of the more courageous performances you’ll ever see, literally crawling to the finish after her body shut down with 50 yards to go to the line.
“She definitely has a flair for the dramatics,” Narragansett coach Robert Shields said with a smile. “Great effort, an outstanding athlete and [she had] just the heart to get up and crawl across the finish line. You can’t ask for anything more out of an athlete like Marissa.”
McPhillips was one of two Mariners at Ponaganset Sunday as senior Quinn McLaughlin finished the boys race in 95th place in 18:28.43.
As for the Crusaders, Emby continued what has been a very strong season in finishing the course in 16:57.66 to secure the final bid to New Englands in 25th place.
“It was definitely tougher than I thought it would be,” Emby said. “The first mile was pretty fast so that probably messed me up but overall I think it went well.
“...Everyone just goes out hard the first mile so it’s tough to get the right mile [split] you want to get.”
Similarly to what Victor Ricci did for Prout last season, Emby has been the leader of the pack this fall and played a big part in the Crusaders’ ninth place result Sunday.
“It was definitely my hardest year of work,” Emby said. “I gave it my all and that’s what matters.
“…I really tried to take [Victor’s] place as captain and try to do as well as we did last year.”
Behind Emby, junior Ryan King (17:32.75) finished in 46th, sophomore Jacob McConnell (17:59.96) came in 73rd, freshman Jonathan Eckel (18:03.32) was 75th and junior Ryan Donovan (18:11.27) rounded out Prout’s scoring in 78th.
Elliott, meanwhile, put forth the strongest performance in her four years racing at Ponaganset.
Last fall the Prout senior was dealing with knee injuries and settled for 48th place one year after taking eighth as a sophomore.
Sunday Elliott finished in 22nd place in 19:48.38, her time four seconds faster than when she was Second-Team, All-State as a sophomore.
Rounding out the Crusaders’ top five were sophomore Victoria Matrullo (21:57.25) in 76th, senior Cailtin Gosciminski (22:16.48) in 86th, senior Kayla Harrington (22:37.41) in 99th and junior Courtney Moffit (23:00.93) in 109th.
As for the South Kingstown girls, senior Julie Munkelwitz – racing for the first time at states – led the way for the Rebels in 45th place with a time of 20:58.84.
“She ran well,” Hathaway said. “She didn’t break 21 last week, she did this week so she had a PR and I’m proud of how she ran. She ran a smart race, she had a good first mile and stuck with it.”
Classmate Kelly Reiss (21:07.41) finished in 48th, sophomore Hallie Manchester (21:25.80) crossed the line in 56th, freshman Abigail Cobb (21:28.53) was 58th and sophomore Naomi Fastovsky (21:39.52) rounded out South’s top five in 66th.
The SK boys team, meanwhile, was excited to extend its season another week as the Rebels were one of the final three teams to sneak into Sunday’s state meet.
“We were just happy to be here,” SK coach Jim Champion said. “We weren’t quite sure last week if we were even coming, we had to wait for the e-mail later that night and we were happy to find out we were a part of the state meet.
“[There are] 18 teams [that] get to come, 22 stay home and we only have two seniors in this group so the five kids that ran today were able to experience some valuable atmosphere of what a championship race is all about.”
Senior Derick Yang was the first Rebel across the line in 62nd place with a time of 17:48.17, while junior Matt Sheehy was 102nd in 18:38.19.
Juniors Paul Sayour (18:38.19), Mike McGovern (19:35.26) and sophomore Jacob Liberis (19:50.88) rounded out the top five for SK in 105th, 130th and 134th, respectively.