CUMBERLAND â€” It wasnâ€™t Sean Lavertyâ€™s intention to stoke the flames regarding the upcoming Interscholastic League cross-country season.
Based on his runaway victory at Saturdayâ€™s Cumberlandfest 5K road race, the junior-to-be at Cumberland High can afford a little bravado. Not only was Laverty successful in trans- forming Diamond Hill State Park into his own personal playpen â€“ his winning time of 16:38 was 20 seconds quicker than the runner-up finisher â€“ but many of the charges that veteran Cumberland mentor Tom Kenwood will have at his disposal this fall also turned in encouraging performances.
Of the raceâ€™s top 10 finishers, six will be counted on to produce low times and score valuable points for the Clippers. Cross country is a sport that stresses strength in numbers, particularly when the topic centers on team scoring. As good as Laverty has the potential of being, he canâ€™t win a dual meet by himself. Thatâ€™s why the 16-year-old made sure to reference how teammate Abdul Kaba pushed him Saturday, a scene that is probably not all that different from the Clippersâ€™ summertime workout sessions.
â€śIt was friendly competition; we all help each other out,â€ť Laverty stated. â€śThis year I think weâ€™re going to have the strongest team since Iâ€™ve been here. Everyone is feeling great. I think we can have our top seven under 17 minutes. That would be phenomenal if we can do that.â€ť
Time will tell if Lavertyâ€™s best-case scenario comes to fruition. As for Saturdayâ€™s developments, Kaba came in second (16:38) followed by fellow Cumberland senior-in-waiting David Agudelo (16:51). The trio was joined by the following top 10 finishers who are also expected to contribute to the Clippersâ€™ cause: Matthew Fownes (fifth, 17:05), James Haupt (seventh, 17:50) and Will Mardo (10th, 18:59).
Citing the hill that the runners must contend with roughly a quarter mile after taking off from the starting position, Laverty gave credit to Kaba for staying by his side in the early going. Lavertyâ€™s first mile was around five minutes, twenty-five seconds.
â€śI wanted to get out quick and kept picking up the pace in an effort to bring Abdul along. I helped him push through the first mile-and-a-half and he did a good job staying back,â€ť Laverty said. â€śWeâ€™ve been practicing all summer, but this is a good race because all of the cross-country meets are 5Ks.â€ť
Laverty didnâ€™t bother checking his watch at the second mile checkpoint. Upon clearing the third mile, it dawned on him that he had a chance to set a personal record.
â€śI knew I should kick in,â€ť said the Cumberland teenager. â€śI was feeling pretty good at that point.â€ť
Two recent Cumberland High graduates, Alex Southiere and Kevin Seaver, finished sixth and ninth respectively with times of 17:29 and 18:45. A total of 117 participants wound up crossing the finish line at the 24th edition of a running event thatâ€™s held in conjunction with the weekend festivities associated with Cumberlandfest.
Speaking of recent high school grads, Wrenthamâ€™s Amanda MacDonald earned the distinction as the raceâ€™s first female finisher. An alumna of King Philip Regional, MacDonald placed 23rd overall with a time of 20:54.
â€śI was running with a bunch of the guys thinking that I could keep up, but they went flying past me,â€ť smiled MacDonald, who is attending Maineâ€™s University of New England. â€śI just kept a pace I thought I would be good at and I guess I did pretty good.â€ť
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03View more articles in: