Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 11-19-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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GLOCESTER – It had been quite some time since the Mount Saint Charles Academy boys' cross country team last cracked the top 10 in the RIIL Championships at Ponaganset High, but thanks to the performances of their top two seniors, the Mounties were able to end that drought. Ryan Slaney earned Second-Team All-State honors by taking 13th place in 16:22.49 and Ceejay Laquerre grabbed the final spot among the Third-Team All-State selections by finishing 21st in 16:35.99, and that led the Mounties to a 9th-place finish that was their best showing at the state meet since 2012. "I'm very happy with them," said MSC cross country coach Amy Noecker. "It was very thrilling to be able to have them run here today and run as well as they did. In the four years I've coached this team, we've never had a full team come (to this meet), so it was really exciting to have all of them here." This season was truly a memorable one for the Mounties, who not only posted a 10-2 dual-meet mark in the Northern Division, which was good for third place and marked their best record in eight seasons, but also fin- ished third in the previous weekend's Class C meet, just 12 points behind the winner, Smithfield. Of course, the Mounties' act wasn't just a two-man show, and that was evi- dent at last Saturday's meet. MSC had three more runners finish among the top 80 with times under 18½ minutes: freshman Ethan Fadden, who finished 68th in 18:00.29, and seniors Ben Happenny (75th, 18:17,74) and Owen Noecker (78th, 18:21.67). Finishing just ahead of Fadden was Woonsocket's representative in this race, senior Drew Paskanik, who took 65th place in 17:57.39. In the girls' meet, the Mounties saw freshman sensation Emmy Belvin con- clude her rookie season with an excla- mation point by placing 24th in a time of 20:00.91 that destroyed her previous personal-best time by 28.09 seconds. "She did awesome," said Noecker. "She ran a great race. I'm super happy for her. She had a major PR on a chal- lenging course, so that was exciting." NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | NOV. 19-25, 2020 SPORTS & RECREATION 17 17 BREEZE PHOTOS BY ERIC BENEVIDES Left, Mount Saint Charles Academy senior RYAN SLANEY runs with the lead pack at the start of last Saturday's state championship meet at Ponaganset High's 3.1-mile course. Slaney earned Second-Team All-State honors by placing 13th in a time of 16:22.49. Right, Woonsocket High senior DREW PASKANIK, shown running through the woods and approaching the first-mile mark, took 65th place in a time of 17:57.39. to receive either a Division I or II scholarship to continue their throwing career. There were some folks who thought he was going to select Penn State because he had been seen at times wearing that school's apparel for the past couple of years, but in the end, Kentucky won him over. "Any of my top four schools would have been a great choice," he added. "They all have great programs, so this was going to be a hard choice regard- less. Penn State has been one of my dream schools forever, but so is the University of Kentucky, and I think it just really came down to a conversa- tion I had with my mom and what we thought was best for me." Being unable to visit any schools or sit down for any in-person visits with coaching staffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coles resorted to his share of virtual tours and hours upon hours of research. "There were countless nights where I was up until 2, 3 or 4 in the morn- ing, just researching and trying to figure out as much as I could about all the schools," said Coles, who returned to school in September as the country's 3rd-ranked thrower in the 12-pound hammer with a personal-best throw of 230 feet, 11 inches and 4th-ranked thrower in the 25-pound weight with a PR throw of 77-4.5. "Because of this corona stuff, I couldn't go out and do what I needed to do, so I had to do a lot of stuff on my own." For those who are close to Thibault, it was no secret where she wanted to play softball after her high school career ended. As a freshman, she fell in love with the Worcester college, as she often made the 30-minute trip there with Mount teammate Talia Williams to watch the Crusaders' soft- ball team in action and check out the campus. "Once I got older, I started to look into the school more and what they had for academics," she said. "Once I knew they had biology – they have a beautiful science building – I decided to go for Holy Cross. They were my first offer and I accepted it on the spot because they were my dream school." A middle infielder, Thibault's career began in the Woonsocket Little League, where she helped Esten & Richard win the league champion- ship and played on the WLL's Major Division all-star team, but she eventu- ally switched to the travel softball cir- cuit and the Rhode Island Thunder's program. She played for the R.I. Thunder-Gold Wilson team, and this fall, took the field for the Connecticut Eliminators U18-Gold ballclub. While Thibault's decision was an easy one, so was Dowdy's, as she chose the first school to reach out to her and whose head coach, Tom Garrick, is a native of Warwick who went on to play at URI and spend four seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Los Angeles Clippers. "After these other coaches heard that I accepted (UMass-Lowell's) offer, they were trying to make me change my mind," added Dowdy, "but UMass-Lowell was the first school to make me an offer. They really wanted me and they talked to me a lot." Last season, the two-time First-Team All-State center averaged 15.5 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and three steals per game, reached the 1,000-point mark in her career late in the season, and helped the Saints claim the Division I-C regular-season title. "(UMass-Lowell) is close to home, and I'm just happy everyone can come and see me play," admitted Dowdy, who decided to commit to UMass-Lowell in June. "I've been playing basketball since I was seven, and all the AAU tournaments and all the work I put in finally paid off." From preceding page Mount boys claim ninth place at RIIL cross country meet Slaney, Laquerre receive All-State honors; Belvin is 24th in girls' race By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze Sports Editor sports@valleybreeze.com www.valleybreeze.com/learning/ ONLINE LEARNING Find out more, call 401-334-9555 x134 • Career Building • Excel • Communication • PowerPoint • Digital Marketing • Women in Business • Entrepreneurship • Security Awareness Online Professional Development

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