Cross-country teams will compete in state championships this Sunday
The North Kingstown High varsity cross-country teams are in the hunt for the state title. Both the girls and boys were number one in their division and will compete this weekend for the state championship at Ponaganset High.
Both squads turned in identical 8-0 records in the regular season in Division I South.
Jamestowner Hannah Niebel led the girls to a third-place finish at the Class A meet last weekend.
The girls and boys both repeated as division winners. According to Jamestown’s Emma Vogel, a senior at North Kingstown, both teams turned in back-to-back undefeated seasons.
That was no small feat in a year that might have been considered rebuilding.
“We had four of our top runners graduate last year,” head coach Brian McNeiece said. “The team had to step it up to retain.”
He attributed the success to hard work, but the girls also did something different this season.
“We concentrated on ourselves and tried to improve,” he said.
Emma said people made an extra effort to include everyone on the team this season.
“This year, we were all really close,” she said. “We always have a great group of girls, but this season, the team spirit was special.”
This team was young, she added. The girls only had one senior on the varsity squad.
Hannah, who just moved to Jamestown this year, is a sophomore. McNeiece said her performance came as a bit of a surprise.
The class meet was the first time Hannah became the first Skipper to finish a race. It was her first time on the course, the same one where the states will be held Sunday, Nov. 3. That may help her do better in her second race at Ponaganset, he said.
Bethany Nunnery, of North Kingstown, is usually the team leader, but McNeiece said the girls’ team is so deep, he never can say for sure who is going to run the best race.
“Hannah broke free and took charge of the race,” he said.
Her time was 20 minutes, seven seconds, a shade more than two minutes behind La Salle’s Eliza Rego, who set a new course record with a time of 17:47.1.
Hannah’s time was good enough for 19th place overall. One other Skipper also turned in a top time. Freshman Jamie Hazel finished the meet in 20:14, good for 21st place.
As a team, the Skippers have now qualified for the states, but the athletes will not compete for any of the individual state titles.
The top seven finishers at the class meet are considered the varsity and will represent the squad this weekend, Emma said.
Jamestown girls are prominent runners on the cross-country team, which has 36 athletes on the roster. McNeiece said they’re all hard working.
While McNeiece is looking forward to the race, he says La Salle is going to be tough to beat. La Salle won the class meet by a convincing margin.
“If La Salle runs the same way they did the other day, no one will be able to catch them,” he predicted.
The Rams set a record, he said. According to McNeiece, no team has ever run that fast on that course.
“It looks like we’re, hopefully, a solid number three,” he said. “And that’s great.”
But then again, the outcome of the championship will all depend on who runs the fastest race on Nov. 3, he said. La Salle hasn’t won anything yet.
Before the class meet, McNeiece thought undefeated Barrington (10-0) would be the victor, but the Rams (9-1) had other ideas. The Eagles finished a distant second. The Skippers came in third.
Jamestowners are also contributing in the leadership roles, the coach said. Sofia Greco-Byrne, a senior, is one of the co-captains. Other islanders on the squad include Alanah Gaudreau, a sophomore who recently moved to Jamestown from North Kingstown, and seniors Peyton Wallace and Raeann Niebel, Hannah’s sister.
“We have a lot of really, really good kids coming from Jamestown,” he said. Once a week, during the summer, practices are at Fort Wetherill in Jamestown.
“These girls have worked very hard all summer long,” the coach said.
McNeiece, who is in his third year as the head coach, said the Skippers have been in training since June. Looking forward to next year, almost all the top runners, except for Jaxine Wolf, are returning.
“That’s a tough loss,” he said.
The boys’ cross-country team has also qualified for the state championship. The Skippers finished in fourth place at the class meet behind Bishop Hendricken, La Salle and Cumberland. Paul Tetreault is the head coach.