By PETE FONTAINE
Sydney DeCesare is certainly no stranger to the winners’ circle.
After all, the talented Johnston resident made her mark – make that many marks – during her highly-successful cross country career at La Salle Academy in Providence.
While Sydney began competing in the often grueling and boring sport of cross country as an eighth grader at St. Rocco’s School in Johnston, she didn’t kick it into high gear – as the old adage goes – until her varsity days running for the perennial powerhouse that La Salle cross country teams have come to be.
DeCesare’s reputation as a classic competitor – along with the respect of her teammates – led to the daughter of David and Jo-Ann DeCesare and sister of La Salle basketball standout Jayme DeCesare being named captain of the Rams’ 2016 state champion cross country squad.
For toppers, she received the prestigious Raymond Dwyer Award, which is presented in memory of the late and legendary cross country and track coach and official, and goes to a senior for “her outstanding contributions to the La Salle cross country and track and field teams.”
This fall, though, DeCesare cranked it up – “big time” as people at Salve Regina University in Newport will attest – and was a major reason why the Seahawks finished third at the annual Commonwealth Coast Conference championships and wound up 25th out of 56 teams in the highly-competitive regional championships.
For her performances during the 2017 season – her first as a collegiate runner – DeCesare was awarded Salve Regina’s prestigious Rookie of the Year Award.
“I could not have asked much more of our team,” Rob McGuinness, the Seahawks’ coach, offered. “To see so many personal-best performances in our most significant meet is a credit to the team and a validation of the work that we’ve done this season.”
Some of that work came from DeCesare, who was usually the Seahawks’ No. 6 finisher, but stepped it up and became a solid performer – and valuable point scorer – by finishing fourth in team scoring in important meets like the CCC championships.
In the CCC championships, which featured 102 runners, DeCesare really shined and finished 21st overall in a time of 26:17.0.
As the fourth and fifth Seahawk runners slipped outside of the top 20 as the race wore on, DeCesare made a charge on the second loop in an effort to salvage the team score. She went on to score in the No. 4 spot. She turned in a personal-best time of 24:55.2 in the 6,000-meters at the NCAA Division III Regional Championships in Gorham, Maine.