NORTH SCITUATE—Make them earn it.
It was the mantra for the East Greenwich boys cross country team Sunday for the RI State Championships as the Avengers were fully aware of the depth and talent of both Hendricken and La Salle.
Just because the Hawks and Rams were heavily favored to duke it out for the state title Sunday didn’t mean EG was going to roll out the red carpet for the two teams though as the Avs put up a strong fight at Ponaganset High School’s Covered Bridge Trail.
Ultimately effort alone wasn’t enough, however, as the Hawks claimed the title Sunday with 37 points, just five points ahead of the second-place Rams.
East Greenwich finished in no-man’s land in the standings in third place with 74 points, well behind La Salle for second but far in front of fourth place Cumberland (148 points).
“Honest, back in June, July, August I didn’t see it this year,” said senior Garrett Scanlon of the team’s performance this season. “We had Graham Chapski come over from soccer this year and that was huge. That really kind of gave us the idea that this is still a very strong team and we can make some noise out there.
“Hendricken and La Salle they’re awesome runners and they have five to seven great guys out there but [they had to earn it].”
Overall the afternoon was a tremendous success for EG as it had five runners between the boys and girls teams garner All-State selections.
Scanlon was the top finisher for the EG boys in fifth place with a time of 16:05.77, while junior Margaret McCaffrey was first for the Avengers girls in sixth place with a time of 19:03.20.
“That’s kind of been my goal all year,” Scanlon said. “I came in 10th last year, which is second-team, and from that day on I said first-team was where I was going.
“…It’s been a really great year and I’ve kind of progressed. I’ve been kind of solid throughout the year and definitely peaked in these two weeks, which is important.”
As for the boys team, East Greenwich got gutsy performances throughout its flight of runners.
Junior Tommy Sommer kicked into high gear in the final straight away to pass a handful of runners to take seventh place in 16:20.33, while junior Noah Barreto had one of his best races of the season taking 10th place in 16:25.47.
“Tommy ran fantastic,” Scanlon said. “He’s always been a strong runner but he really showed up strong today. I was really impressed to turn around and see him come in seventh.”
Senior Angelo Acker (16:59.42) and sophomore Dylan DePriest (17:11.16) rounded out the Avengers’ scoring in 26th and 28th places, respectively.
Heading into Sunday’s race EG boys coach Peter Dion was not sure if Chapski – who was sick the few days leading up to states and on race day – would even be available to run but the first-year senior battled through it to try and help his team.
Chapski finished in 30th place with a time of 17:12.21 and while his result may not have counted towards the team score – even if he had won it wouldn’t have been enough to catch Hendricken or La Salle – his determination to fight through illness was inspiring.
Junior Matt Wegrzyn was the final Avenger to finish in 44th place with a time of 17:30.45.
As for the girls team, McCaffrey put forth a tremendous effort down the stretch to earn her second consecutive First-Team, All-State selection by passing Barrington’s Mary Kate Coogan and Amy Laverty in the final 100 meters for sixth place.
“I kind of came in here with some doubts because the field of runners was so strong this year but I kind of really couldn’t compare it to what I did last year,” McCaffrey said. “I had to come in really focused.
“…I was hurting at the end but I knew I was right on the bridge of First-Team or Second-Team [All-State] so I kind of had to go.”
“You can’t count her out because she’s really a game-time performer. It’s just kind of in her nature,” EG girls coach Erin Newman said of McCaffrey. “I realistically predicted her to be anywhere from five or six to 12 because you never know with how it was going to shake out today but she knew exactly where she needed to be.
“Even though the girls went out really fast in that first mile she really didn’t let it pull her along too much. She kind of stayed on pace for herself.”
Joining McCaffrey with All-State honors will be classmate Thedita Pedersen, who finished in 19th place Sunday in 19:42.74.
The duo’s performance helped power the Avengers to a seventh place finish as Coventry – who edged out EG for first in the Central Division during the regular season – once against got the better of East Greenwich for the sixth and final qualifying spot in the New England Championships. The Oakers took sixth with 216 points, while the Avengers finished with 240 points.
Rounding out the top five for the Avs were senior Phoebe Osterhout (21:41.40), junior Emily Ferguson (22:28.72) and sophomore Abby Allaire (22:28.72) in 69th, 87th and 93rd places, respectively. Juniors Caroline Blessing (22:38.37) and Zoe Hinman (24:25.33) finished in 100th and 127th, respectively.
The Avenger boys – plus McCaffrey and Pedersen – will return to action Saturday when they travel to Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H. for the New England Championships.
“They work extremely hard. Now we just have to recover and get ready for New Englands,” Dion said. “I’d like to see three of our guys get in the top 25 at New Englands. That’s our goal, maybe four.”