Greely boys win Class B cross country crown again; Freeport, NYA oh-so-close in Class C
As expected, the Greely Rangers repeated as Class B boys' cross country state champions Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland. Falmouth finished third and Yarmouth was eighth. In the girls' meet, won by Cape Elizabeth, the Yachtsmen came in eighth and the Rangers were 12th.
The Greely boys almost had some local company at the top of the podium.
In the Class C girls' meet, North Yarmouth Academy wound up one point shy of Waynflete. Pre-race favorite Freeport placed third. In the boys' race, won by Boothbay, Freeport was second by a point, while NYA placed third. The Merriconeag-Waldorf school, based in Freeport and New Gloucester, finished fourth.
The Greely boys have long been the standard-bearer in Class B cross country and the 2009 team lived up to its legacy. The Rangers won five out of six titles between 1999 and 2004, then, after failing to qualify in 2005 and placing fifth in 2006, Greely won it all each of the past two seasons. The Rangers excelled during the regular season this fall, winning every meet in-state before taking the conference and regional titles.
Saturday, Greely scored 74 points, which was 31 better than runner-up York. Falmouth (108) finished three points behind the Wildcats, but held off rival Cape Elizabeth for the third spot. Yarmouth's 181 points left it eighth.
Greely placed its first three finishers in the top nine. Senior Mark McCauley came in third on the 5-kilometer course (16 minutes, 27 seconds). Senior Logan Price finished fifth (16:51). Junior Sam Johnston was ninth (17:22). Sophomore Stefan Sandreuter (28th, 17:58) and junior Connor Regan (29th, 18:00) rounded out the scorers. Sophomore Isaak Emery (38th, 18:11) and senior Andrew Hunter (65th, 19:11) also took part.
"We overcame losing our No. 4 man Sam Humphries (flu) and outpaced the competition by 31 points," said Rangers coach David Dowling. "It was a stronger performance for McCauley and Price, who had faster times than (regionals) and comparable times by Johnston, Sandreuter, Regan, Emery and Hunter. The depth of the 4,5,6 runners helped keep the team score competitive.
"For next year, five of the top seven return, though the loss of Price and McCauley leaves fast times to be chased."
Falmouth, which was also third at the 2008 state meet, was led by another superb performance from sophomore Tim Follo (who was sixth in 16:58). Junior John Lake (14th, 17:35), sophomore Conor McGrory (24th, 17:54), senior Eric Hemphill (25th, 17:54) and sophomore Thomas Edmonds (39th, 18:14). Sophomore Henry Briggs (41st, 18:15) and senior Charlie Swerdlow (47th, 18:25) also took part.
"The boys ran well," said Yachtsmen co-coach Jorma Kurry. "We made up much of the gap on York, but fell just short of the runner-up spot. Tim and John had great races and Eric and Conor were very solid as well. Nearly all of our boys moved up relative to their runs at the regional meet.
Falmouth will return five of its top seven next year and could be primed to make a run at the top spot.
"With most of our top seven returning, we will set our sights very high next year, especially with the depth of the team," Kurry said. "Having Tom Edmonds, Henry Briggs, Sean Hodgdon, Azad Jalali, Jay Lesser and others will give us the competition for those varsity spots and make all the runners better."
Yarmouth enjoyed its second straight top 10 finish. The Clippers were paced by junior Ben Nickerson (19th, 17:47) and junior Ben Woodbury (22nd, 17:52). Senior Sam Woodbury (31st, 18:06), Senior Tim Wright (53rd, 18:40) and freshman Thomas Robichaud (56th, 18:46) also scored. Senior Samuel Peterson (60th, 19:00) and senior Lucas Hamilton (94th, 20:54) also competed.
"I'm ecstatic," said Yarmouth coach Bob Morse. "We ran missing two of our top five runners, Cam Woodworth (stress reaction) and Andrew George (illness), so, our first goal was to place in the top 10 and our ultimate goal was to place eighth as well as beat our Western Maine Conference rival Fryeburg Academy. We hit the trifecta by accomplishing all three goals. How did we do this? Great running by Ben Nickerson, Ben Woodbury and Sam Woodbury. Also, seniors Tim Wright and Sam Peterson. Freshman Thomas Robichaud had to replace Andrew George and he had his best race of the season placing fifth for the team."
The Clippers have their work cut out to return to states in 2010.
"We're graduating 50 percent of the 14 boys on the team," Morse said. "So, I need boys to rethink their fall sport experience and decide if they want to just be part of a team or do they want to be on a team that will compete in a state championship. I hope that more boys will join the team next fall."
In the girls' meet, Falmouth secured its fifth straight top 10 finish by scoring 197 points, which was two behind seventh-place Poland (Cape Elizabeth easily took the crown with 46). Freshman Meg Palombo was the top individual, coming in 20th (21:46). Freshman Abby Payson (28th, 22:03), sophomore Emily Rand (38th, 22:15), senior Erin Morris (50th, 22:40) and junior Maggie Parrish (61st, 23:06) were the other scorers. Senior Francesca D'Alfonso (66th, 23:13) and freshman Molly Ryan (77th, 23:43) also took part.
"As we've seen all season, getting everyone together on the same day is a challenge," said Kurry. "The girls ran into that at the state meet. We had several outstanding performances, though, especially from Meg Palombo and Abby Payson. Emily Rand also had her best race of the season. Strong performances from these younger runners give us something to build on for next year. Losing Francesca and Erin will be difficult, but with girls like Meg, Abby, Emily and Molly Ryan, we have something great to start with for next year."
Greely (250 points) was paced by sophomore Melissa Jacques (32nd, 22:06). Senior Marissa Goding (46th, 22:31), junior Dee Little (53rd, 22:45), junior Emily Christensen (59th, 22:58) and sophomore Sarah Ezzio (60th, 22:58) also scored. Senior Emily Norton (83rd, 25:21) also took part.
"We came in as the 13th seed and finished 12th, running times comparable to the regionals last week," Dowling said. "Five of the top seven girls return for next year and hope to move up the ranks in the state standings."
Yarmouth's Chloe Sarapas, competing as an individual, had the 40th-best time (22:10).
"Chloe was pleased with her results and has set her goal for next season, which is to make the top 20 and run with the girls' team," Morse said. "It was great if all the girls return and we pick up a few more girls we could have our biggest and best team in five years. The outlook is very promising."
After sweeping the Western C meets a week ago, Freeport was viewed as the favorite entering states, but illness on the girls' side and a sparkling performance from Boothbay's boys' squad prevented the Falcons from adding another championship trophy to their collection.
In the girls' race, the biggest local story was the surprising rise of NYA, which had 38 points, one more than Waynflete. Freeport had a 53.
The Panthers, who last won a state crown in 2002 and hadn't even qualified the past two seasons, were led by sophomore Hillary Detert, who was third (21:44). Senior Maeve Stier (sixth, 22:03), sophomore Maggie Meixell (seventh, 22:22) and sophomore Sarah Jordan (10th, 23:29) also placed in the top 10. Sophomore Morgan Scully (12th, 24:04) was the other scorer, while senior Abbie McIvor (22nd, 26:04) and senior Devon Gamble (30th, 30:46) also took part.
"The girls did everything they could on Saturday," said NYA coach Chris Mazzurco. "With some runners improving by over a minute from their time at regionals. Everyone is very pleased with the outcome. To come within one point of a state championship was a thrilling end to a successful season."
With most of the top scorers back next fall, the Panthers won't sneak up on anyone and could finish the job.
"We are graduating only one runner from our top five and with the return of our injured reserve from this fall plus the addition of several 8th graders from our first full middle school team, we are hopeful that next season will be a strong one for NYA," Mazzurco said.
Freeport, hoping for its first crown since winning four in a row between 2003 and 2006, had three of the top eight scorers: Sophomore Ellie Soule (fourth, 21:47), senior Lindsey Merrill (fifth, 21:54) and senior Kiera Berkemeyer (eighth, 22:25). Junior Lauren Easler (15th, 24:15) and freshman Lia Wellin (21st, 25:14) also scored. Junior Brianna Roy (28th, 27:48) also finished the race.
"We just did not have the numbers this year," lamented Falcons coach Brian Berkemeyer. "So, when one of my runners came down with the flu the week before states, we knew it would be rough going. Ellie Soule and Lia Wellen had excellent races and can only improve for 2010. I will miss both Kiera Berkemeyer and Lindsey Merrill, but look forward to next year."
Two Merriconeag-Waldorf freshmen competed as individuals. Teagan Wu placed 11th (22:11) and Zoe Chace was 14th to the tape (22:23).
In the boys' race, Freeport had 59 points, but Boothbay was one better. NYA finished third with 104 points and Merriconeag-Waldorf placed fourth (109).
The Falcons, in their performance since placing second seven years ago, had three of the top seven scorers: junior Griffin Day (second, 17:22), senior Henry Loughlin (fourth, 17:33) and senior Jake Kostik (seventh, 17:54). Sophomore Taylor Saucier (20th, 18:46) and junior Max Jennings (26th, 18:58) also scored. Junior Bennett Wade (28th, 19:05) and junior Miles Boucher (39th, 19:48) also took part.
"Boothbay really stepped it up and ran an excellent race," Berkemeyer said. "It's very rare to have three in the top 10 and not win. It just goes to show you that every runner counts. We will miss some outstanding senior runners in Henry Loughlin and Jake Kostik. We have a very strong group with a lot of numbers. With Griffin back, we will need to tighten the pack up. We will be sure to contend next year."
NYA's boys, who hadn't finished third or better since 2004, featured top runner sophomore Cam Regan (eighth, 18:02). The Panthers also got points from sophomores Evan Kendall (14th, 18:34), Rudy Guiliani (19th, 18:44), Grant McPherson (29th, 19:07) and junior Elliot Daniels (34th, 19:21). Sophomore Brian Trelegan (46th, 20:10) and senior Philip Champoux (49th, 20:15) also competed.
"I am incredibly proud of how well the boys ran on Saturday," said NYA coach Peter Sillin. "Depending on how you looked at it, we were seeded anywhere from fourth to ninth in that field. Almost all of the boys set (personal bests) in the biggest race of the season and our third-place finish greatly surpassed our goals for the year. Cam continued in his role as team pace-setter. Evan has been our consistent No. 2 for a while and he ran his race plan very well. Rudy has been improving week by week and finally exploded by cutting about 30 seconds off his PR from earlier in the season. Grant has been moving up the team chart steadily for about a month and put together a really gutsy race. And Eliot tried out a new kind of race plan this week, which he ran with great courage. Everyone just ran their hearts out.
"Our team was very young this year. Of the top 7, only one is a senior, but we gained a lot of experience and maturity this year. This is a great group of guys who are all close friends and are willing to work hard to get better. I can't say enough about how positive and fun the team culture is. I really enjoy hanging around this group of guys. If they stay healthy and put in their summer work next year, I think 2010 could be another really fun season for NYA cross country."
Merriconeag-Waldorf, in its first state appearance, had two top-10 finishers. Freshman Jack Pierce was sixth (17:44) and freshman Juan Mesones placed ninth (18:02). Other scorers included junior Phineas Samuelson (24th, 18:52), junior Jacob Kolda (33rd, 19:19) and sophomore Tyler O'Brien (37th, 19:35). Sophomores Cyrus Fenderson (62nd, 21:17) and Wyatt McCurdy (65th, 21:35).
The Greely team along with Falmouth's Follo, qualified to compete in the New England championship meet Saturday in Manchester, Conn.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org