In any sport – cross country included – generating momentum is a vital part to postseason success.
As the three-week postseason kicked off over the weekend with conference championship action throughout the state, the Mount Desert Island, Orono, Brunswick and Maranacook girls and Mt. Blue, Lincoln Academy, Caribou and Orono boys have established some early momentum by claiming first-place finishes in the Penobscot Valley Conference and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meets.
The Trojans, Vikings and Red Riots walked away from the PVC meet at Old Town High School with team crowns, while at Cony High in Augusta, it was the Cougars of Farmington, Eagles of Newcastle, Dragons and Black Bears from Readfield earning KVAC crowns.
In each instance, all teams ran together regardless of class, and the meets – Class A and B competitions in Augusta and Class B and C races in Old Town – were scored separately.
Powered by senior Tia Tardy’s first-place finish, MDI was able to accumulate 46 points to easily outdistance runner-up Caribou’s 74. Ellsworth finished third with 86 points, followed by John Bapst of Bangor (92) and Presque Isle (130).
The Class C race was far tighter, and it came down to a sixth-runner tiebreak between Orono and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
The Red Riots’ sixth runner, Marta Ehringhaus finished two slots ahead of the Eagles’ No. 6 girl, Bella Cimeno, giving the Riots the edge in spite of each squad scoring 32 points.
Narraguagus of Harrington (101), Washington Academy of East Machias (115) and Houlton (127) rounded out the top five.
Caribou won the boys’ Class B race in convincing fashion, scoring 29 points, with second-place John Bapst tallying 82. Ellsworth (84), MDI (93) and Old Town (104) also finished in the top five.
Orono would tally 28 points to claim the Class C boys’ competition, with GSA taking second with 49 points.
Narraguagus took third with 106, Bucksport fourth with 127 and Machias fifth with 130.
GSA senior John Hassett went on to record the fastest time of the day, covering the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 26.20 seconds, but six Red Riots finished among the top 10 Class C competitors.
Leading the way was Matt Keresey, who finished fourth while Lowell Ruck was fifth. Jonathan Steelman, Jonny Spencer, William O’Neil and Stephen Nelson finished 6-8-9-10 for the Riots.
Caribou’s Dylan Marrero was first among his Class B brethren, and three other Vikings – Evan Desmond (second), Alec Cyr (fourth) and Kyle Boucher (10th) recorded top-10 finishes to power the Vikings.
For the girls, MDI’s Tardy cruised to the afternoon’s quickest time in 18:58.80 in leading the Trojans to the team crown.
Katelyn Osborne was the other MDI runner in the top 10, recording a sixth-place finish. Rounding out the Trojans’ scorers were Emmy Banks (12th), Emma Strong (13th) and Louise Chaplin (14th).
Orono would get a 1-3 finish from Kassidy Dill and Camille Kohtala, while Hannah Steelman was seventh and Liza Gallandt 10th.
George Stevens was able to keep up thanks to four Eagles finishing in the top 10, with Eliza Broughton taking second, Mary Richardson fourth, Zeya Lorio fifth and Tess Williamson eighth.
Meanwhile in Augusta, the Hampden Academy boys placed three runners in the top 10 in the KVAC Class A competition, but the Broncos didn’t have the pack power to overcome Mt. Blue.
Paul Casavant and Wyatt Lord led the way for the Broncos with a 3-4 effort while William Webb finished eighth.
Overall winner Tucker Barber (16:43.8 over 3.1 miles) would go on to lead Mt. Blue to a 74-88 triumph.
Bangor was sixth in the 12-team Class A field (149) while Brewer was ninth (190).
Lincoln Academy tucked four runners in the top 10 to claim the Class B crown with 38 points, while Maranacook was second with 87 and Camden Hills of Rockport third with 103. Nicholas Dill of Waterville was the top Class B finisher.
And for the girls, Mount Ararat of Topsham’s Katherine Leckbee posted the fastest time of the day (19:44.2) while Brunswick placed three runners in the top 15 to eke out a 74-89 win over Mt. Blue
Hampden Academy and Brewer finished fifth and sixth, respectively, while Bangor was ninth.
In Class B, Maranacook edged Camden Hills behind the strength of fifth runner Lily Welch placing 19th, compared to a 27th-place run by the Windjammers’ No. 5 girl, Macy Pushaw, aiding the Black Bears to a 45-63 win.
The top Class B finisher also came from Maranacook as Molly McGrail beat out Emma Trapini of Camden Hills.
Regional championship meets are scheduled for Saturday, with the Northern Maine teams competing in Belfast and the Southern Maine schools in Cumberland.