Skee Carter Invitational brings out 27 teams as Broncos celebrate cross country seniors

Burrillville High School senior cross country athletes. Credit: Burrillville School Department

BURRILLVILLE – The Burrillville cross country team hosted the 11th Annual Skee Carter Invitational at Burrillville Middle School on Thursday, Oct. 19, with runners from 27 teams from across the state coming to compete at an event that also served as the Bronco athletes’ senior night.

The gathering was the largest to date for an event honoring longtime Burrillville teacher and coach Wilfred “Skee” Carter.

“Our Burrillville athletes take great pride in hosting this race,” explained Maria Quiray Lawrence, director of strategic initiatives for the Burrillville School Department.

Carter, who taught sixth grade math at BMS, retired in 2002. He coached middle and high school cross country, middle school basketball, ran the clock at high school basketball games, and was the high school baseball with Peter Berthelette for more than 20 years. During his tenure coaching cross country, Carter coached with high school math teacher Cathy Forrest, and later coached with Marty Crowley, now the athletic director at Cumberland High School as well as the girls cross country coach. Carter also coached current teachers and cross country coaches Sam Stanton and Jackie Keable when they were in high school.

“Each morning he would head to the middle school to walk the trails with his dogs before heading home for a hot cup of coffee and sugar free muffin,” noted a release put together by the coaches..

Carter died unexpectedly after walking his dogs in the morning on January 2, 2013, at the age of 66. 

The race was originally called the Bronco Invitational and was created by Crowley and Skee. At the time, the educators note, Burrillville was, “not the best,” at cross country, but the event gave student athletes a chance to compete in with other small schools before the class meet.

The invitational has grown dramatically over the last decade and was renamed in Carter’s honor after his death in 2013.

On Thursday, the Bronco runners remembered the coach during senior night for 7 Class of 2024 athletes: Greta Ajoyan, Nolan Baynes, Kaitlyn Fleming, Jenna Forrest, Braden Paquette, Devin Richard and Nolan Serafin.

Burrillville runner Arthur Ferris would go on to come in third in the varsity boys 5,000 meter run finals with Richard just behind him in fourth place. Moses Brown School’s Eli Ziegler would come in first among male runners, with Mount Hope High School’s Jessica Deal the fastest of the female competitors.

“Coach Carter’s spirit and legacy remains an integral part of the cross country team’s values,” noted his colleagues and former students. “He pushed student athletes to not only be the best athlete they could be, but the best teammate and person they could be.”

“He would always see the best in every situation, and worked to help student athletes view life from a positive lens,” the write up on Carter noted. “He is greatly missed.”

The coaches who carry on Carter’s legacy closed with a favorite quote from their late mentor: “Happy trails.”

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