CUMBERLAND â It wasnât Sean Lavertyâs intention to stoke the flames regarding the upcoming Interscholastic League cross-country season.
Based on his runaway victory at Saturdayâs 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 raceâs 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 canât win a dual meet by himself. Thatâs 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.
âIt was friendly competition; we all help each other out,â Laverty stated. âThis year I think weâre going to have the strongest team since Iâve 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
Time will tell if Lavertyâs best-case scenario comes to fruition. As for Saturdayâs 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. Lavertyâs first mile was around five minutes, twenty-five seconds.
âI 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 Laverty said. âWeâve been practicing all summer, but this is a good race because all of the cross-country meets are 5Ks.â
Laverty didnât 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.
âI knew I should kick in,â said the Cumberland teenager. âI was feeling pretty good at that point.â
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 thatâs held in conjunction with the weekend festivities associated with Cumberlandfest.
Speaking of recent high school grads, Wrenthamâs Amanda MacDonald earned the distinction as the raceâs first female finisher. An alumna of King Philip Regional, MacDonald placed 23rd overall with a time of 20:54.
âI was running with a bunch of the guys thinking that I could keep up, but they went flying past me,â smiled MacDonald, who is attending Maineâs University of New England. âI just kept a pace I thought I would be good at and I guess I did pretty good.â
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