The 7th Ocean State Cross Country Invitational Cross Country event took place recently in Rhode Island, USA where Team Dunleer came home with a record seven individual medals.
This highly ranked event is co-organised by Charlie Breagy who is originally from Ardee and a member of Dunleer AC since his juvenile days. Charlie was a prolific athlete in the 1980s and a scholarship student at Providence College alongside another Providence graduate John Treacy, Olympic medallist and double world cross country champion.
Breagy has been helping Dunleer AC with Rás na hÉireann since the Club’s Centenary year in 1996, organising international teams and élite athletes to compete at the mid-Louth club’s hugely popular cross country event.
Charlie invited Team Dunleer to compete in Rhode Island, and while this is the third time an Irish team of athletes has participated, 2013 has been the most successful to date with seven team members coming home with individual medals.
This was an amazing feat for the 19 strong team - composed of Dunleer AC and Scoil Uí Mhuirí athletes - considering the event was attended by athletes from 12 US states.
Day one was a lovely sunny day at Goddard Park, with Middle School athletes turning up in their thousands to contest the placings.
Out of 218 finishers Katie Mathews’ 14th placing and individual top 30 medal proved a great start to the Middle School section of the event. Katie covered the cross country 2,000 metre course in a terrific 8.14 minutes.
The Middle School boys event, also over 2,000 metres had 221 finishers and Conor Matthews had a podium top five placing in 6.58 minutes, with 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th tightly packed together and finishing within a five second margin.
On day two, another beautiful sunny day dawned and the Dunleer AC juvenile athletes were in action throughout the day, featuring in four races, with 17 juveniles representing the Irish delegation.
The Freshmen girls race proved to be the race of the day on Saturday for the Dunleer team with Seaghna Campbell executing a brilliant race plan over 4,000 metres to win overall by almost two seconds ahead of 2nd placed athlete Caroline Meizen from Douglas. Seaghna’s time of 16.05 gave her an average mile of 6.28 over three miles.
Seaghna was backed by her team mates Seoda Matthews in 9th place, Leah Cassidy in 22nd and Gráinne Murray in 61st place, despite suffering a stitch mid race. A brilliant performance for the girls’ team.
In the Freshmen boys’ race over the 4,000m course the Dunleer team of Stephen Reilly, Evan Whelan, Evan Doheny and David O’Brien had a great outing with placings of 49th, 89th, 101st and 104th respectively. These boys are all new to the sport of cross country and all acquitted themselves very well against top class competition.
The Dunleer senior girls team competed in the Division 1 Varsity 5km, with Aoife Fay in contention throughout and finishing a fantastic 7th place in 19.55 averaging 6.25 miles for four miles.
Again, there was a huge field with 192 finishers, and the Dunleer girls gave their all, with Aoife first home for the team and winning an individual medal, Emma Fay finishing in 21.48, Niamh Murray in 24.28, and high jumper Lisa McGowan doing her bit for the team finishing in 34.33.
The Boys’ Division 1 Varsity 5km cross country race was won in 15.55, with Dunleer’s Garry Campbell in 19th place in a time of 17.20, making the top 30 medallists. Out of 217 finishers, Jack Boylan was pleased with his new personal best for the distance, 18.15, and his 53rd position.
Newcomers Eoin Dillon and Kurt McGrane finished in 19.34 and 20.39 respectively, with javelin specialist Liam Fussey completing the line up in a very respectable 22.35.
A 5km trail race for the managers took place in the early morning on day two, with Niall Campbell finishing 10th overall in 20.27 and Jacqueline Matthews 30th in 23.35. Niall went on to compete in the Rock and Roll Providence Half Marathon on Sunday October 29 and ran a superb 1 hour 30 minutes.
Medals aside, all 19 of the athletes performed very well in very competitive races and can be very proud of their individual achievements as each member did the distance unaided, competing against the clock and negotiating the terrain themselves.
Thanks goes to team managers Kevin, Jackie, Daisy, Aiden and Niall as well as sponsors and supporters who helped get the team to the USA for this trip of a lifetime.
Sponsors and supporters include Glen Dimplex, Centra Dunleer, JF Travel, Prout Alarms, Louth Meath Education Training Board, Scoil Uí Mhuirí, Dunleer AC, Team Carrie and North Kingstown High School. The bags and singlets were top quality and designed by Gibtex, Tullyallen.
Our thanks to everyone who made it happen, not forgetting our US counterparts, Joe, our informative Rhode Island bus driver, Meet Co-Directors Bob and Ann Rothenberg, plus the North Kingstown Track team and coaches who were excellent hosts throughout.