PAWTUCKET — It was a September afternoon with a November feel to it.
Well, maybe not weather-wise. Temperatures were in the mid-80s as four cross country teams converged upon Slater Park for the first dual meet of the season.
The reference to November comes after watching two male runners on the list of state meet contenders put on a display that could very well be a preview of coming attractions.
With roughly 200 yards still to go, St. Raphael junior Devan Kipyego summed what runners like to refer to as their final kick – the boost energy that allows them to put forth a powerful display with the finish line in sight.
La Salle Academy senior/Cumberland native Adam Thibodeau was side-by-side with Kipyego before one challenger pulled away from the other.
Kipyego completed the course in 14 minutes, 55 seconds with Thibodeau closing at 14:58. They were the lone two runners to eclipse the 15-minute mark on a day that saw the Rams sweep the Metropolitan Division meet with wins over the Saints (24-35), Wheeler (15-50) and Moses Brown (16-47). The Saints registered wins over the Quakers (17-37) and the Warriors (15-48).
As for the race’s top two finishers, Kipyego and Thibodeau agreed that there were plenty of takeaways from Monday’s race with an eye towards November’s state meet at Ponaganset High School.
“Just knowing my competitors and seeing what’s ahead in the future, it’s clear that I’m going to have plenty of good competition at states,” said Kipyego. “I’ve been studying what others are doing, but it’s more about focusing on myself and pushing through my workouts.”
Added Thibodeau, “There are a lot of guys around the state who worked hard during the summer. I definitely know I have to put in more work, but we’re not going to change just because of what others are doing. We’re going to listen to our coaches because they know what’s best for us.”
As for Kipyego pushing the pace, Thibodeau said, “Devan came out and it was clear he wanted to race hard. He took it to me. I led most of the race. He sat on me before making his move.”
“I looked back and didn’t see anyone. I figured it would just be us,” said Kipyego. “I started playing in my head as far as what I could do and what my plan would be.”
Thibodeau accomplished his goal of turning the page after placing fourth in the Injury Fund’s Peter Dion race.
“I’m not back to where I felt during [last spring’s] outdoor season. I still have work to do, but I’m excited about that,” said Thibodeau.
As for the rest of the developments from Monday’s meet, fellow Cumberland native and La Salle senior Jack Casey placed third (15:48) with SRA receiving top-10 finishes from junior Pedro Mayol (fifth, 15:51) and senior Jack Pereira (sixth, 15:52).
In the girls’ race, Moses Brown standout Sophia Gorriaran blitzed the rest of the field with a first-place time of 17:47. SRA’s Tyla Forbes was her team’s top finisher (10th, 21:13). A ninth-grader from Cumberland, La Salle’s Maeve Casey placed eighth (20:43).
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03