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In this paper, we discuss distributed algorithms to construct ring-like overlays over a subset of scattered nodes in a static, random wireless ad hoc and sensor network (WASN). A ring-like overlay consists of a unidirectional ring plus side paths or loops, in which the given subset of nodes may appear multiple times. Different from a Hamiltonian cycle, a ring-like overlay is easier to construct and more efficient to operate. Yet, it can support many useful control operations in WASN such as mutual exclusion, clock synchronization, and cluster management. Compared with other topologies, a ring-like overlay allows conflict-free two-way communications, supports node ordering, and provides cost-free status feedbacks of operations. In this paper, we first present a distributed algorithm to construct a proximity-aware ring-like overlay in WASN. We then show optimization techniques to adapt the primitive overlays to meet the various application requirements.