CUMBERLAND – The story Tuesday afternoon at the Monastery wasn’t so much whether host Cumberland High would sweep its Northern Division tri-meet against other local foes.
They did, and then some.
Instead, it revolved around a rivalry that began last year. That is, how would Clipper sophomore Amy Laverty perform against junior Betsy Dumais, one of Burrillville’s top harriers over the past decade or more.
Laverty captured this particular outing, outhustling Dumais to the finish line with a stellar 3.1-mile clocking of 19:50. She edged the runner-up Bronco by a mere four ticks.
“I like racing against Betsy because she’s such a great competitor,” Laverty grinned afterward. “She pushes me, just like she did last year. I felt I was going to go fast because I had somebody right on my heels for most of the race, and I had to keep up my pace.
“She really brings out the racer in me,” she added. “The whole day, I didn’t stop thinking about it. I had so much adrenaline going through me, I could barely sit still (in class). I couldn’t get it out of my head.
“As it gets closer to a meet, I start to get a little nervous, but once the gun goes off, it all disappears, and the adrenaline rush is unbelievable.”
Laverty’s best time this summer/fall came at the Injury Fund meet at the 3.1-mile Burrillville Middle School course. She made the trek on a proven faster course in 19:59, so improved – on a more difficult Monastery trail – by nine seconds.
“I’m happy; I wanted to get my time down more, but – for me to do this, and it’s still early in the season – I’ll take it.”
With Laverty’s win, not to mention strong showings from teammates Meaghan Scullin, Nichole Barger, Ashley Bricault and Kerry Connolly, the Clippers garnered elementary victories over Burrillville (21-40), Woonsocket (15-50) and North Smithfield (15-50) to remain unbeaten at 6-0.
Scullin took third in 20:39, Barger fourth (21:39), Bricault sixth (21:53) and Connolly seventh (22:10).
The only interruption, after Dumais, came from BHS junior Kaidy Cornell, who took fifth in 21:46.
As excited as Laverty was after claiming the triumph, Dumais expressed the same feeling.
“I ran here Friday in the Blackstone Valley Invitational, and I came in at 20:42, so that was a big improvement for me,” Dumais smiled later of hustling 48 seconds faster than she did just four days before. “I know I was 6:06 at the mile, and we were side by side. At the two-mile, we were virtually side by side, so it was really close.
“In the back loop, the middle portion between the first and second mile, (Laverty) opened up a four or five second lead,” she continued. “We came into the third mile together, but she pulled away over the last couple tenths.”
When asked how she felt about placing an unusual second in a dual meet, Dumais smiled again, “Actually, I am used to losing, but I’m really happy with this race. She dragged me along to a good time. Facing a great competitor like Amy, it really does help. You learn from every race, and getting beaten puts everything in perspective.”
Stated Broncos’ mentor Marty Crowley, whose squad fell to 4-2: “Amy’s a great runner, a girl who finished seventh in the state meet last season (to snag All-State first-team laurels), and for Betsy to go stride for stride with her virtually the distance, it’s a testament to all the hard work Betsy put in during the off-season. She ran a great race.”
Burrillville’s other top scoring placements came from Lauren Lamontagne (11th) and Morgan Allen (13th). Brianna Lake of Woonsocket placed 14th overall in 23:14, while North Smithfield’s Annemarie Votta took 17th in 24:21.
Cumberland head coach Joyce Bonner appreciated the wherewithal Laverty exhibited during her triumph.
“That was an amazing race for her,” she noted. “I just told her beforehand to run her race. We knew she’d be close to Betsy, and she ran really well. This is the first time she’s really been pushed. It’s her personal-best this season, and her best time ever on this course.
“We have one more home meet left here against Scituate, and that team is pretty tough,” she added. “If we win that, then we have to face Smithfield and Mount St. Charles the week after that (Oct. 7) at Deerfield Park. That would be for the division championship.
“Meaghan Scullin ran a great time; she PR’d by 15 seconds, and so did Nichole, who hasn’t been running because of a knee injury. Ashley, Kerry and Hannah are our senior tri-captains, and they’re such an inspiration. Some of the younger girls are faster, but there’s no animosity between them. They lead and teach by example; that’s why they’re our captains.
“They’ve all been injured, so they know the heartache when the younger kids can’t compete. They understand.”