For the teams and athletes that qualified for Saturday’s New England Cross-Country Championships, it proved to be a solid day all around for the Rhode Islanders that made the trek to Belfast, Maine for the 88th annual event.
Cumberland High, which finished just a point behind eventual champion Bishop Hendricken at last week’s State Meet, was the top R.I., squad in the boys’ competition. The Clippers finished fifth overall with 265 points, 31 points ahead of the Hawks, who were eighth among the 30 schools.
Competing on the Troy Howard Middle School XC Course, Cumberland’s Sam Henderson was the first from the state to cross the finish line. The talented junior, last week’s individual titlist, raced to a time of 15 minutes, 44.25 seconds for the 5K course to take seventh overall. La Salle Academy sophomore Marshall Vernon also broke 16 minutes, placing 16th in 15:57.57. Also placing among the top 50 in the field of 257 runners were Smithfield’s Jason Padula (27th, 16:10.04), Portsmouth’s Sean Gray (30th, 16:12.17), Mount St. Charles’Ethan Fadden (16:13.42), Ponaganset’s Owen Klein (16:16.97), and Barrington’s Myles Napolitano (42nd, 16:20.90).
In the girls’ competition, recent state titlist Cumberland led the local contingent at the New England’s by taking 11th overall with .349 points, La Salle (368 points), East Greenwich (372 points) and North Kingstown (387 points) were 13th, 14th and 15th, respectively.
Chariho’s Erin VonHousen, a runner-up at last weekend’s championsip meet, was the first from state. The Charger senior was 23rd in 18:36.79. She was just ahead of Cumberland’s Kiley DeFusco (25th, 18:41.25) and Narragansett’s Madeleine O’Neill (26th, 18:42.59).
North Kingstown freshman Abbie Tighe (34th 18:47.4), Pilgrim’s Keaney Bayha (39th, 18:53.42), and La Salle ninth-grader Alyssa Parenteau (47th, 19:01.0) also cracked the top 50. The race had 251 finishers.