Cheverus sweeps Class A cross country meets as girls win school's first crown ever; Waynflete girls take Class C again
History was made Saturday when the Cheverus cross country teams swept the Class A state championships at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.
Not only did the Stags boys' team win a title for the first time since 2001, but the girls' squad really turned heads, winning the school's first-ever championship by a girls' team, regardless of sport, since the school went co-ed in 2000.
The Deering boys' and girls' teams, along with a McAuley and Portland individual, also took part in the meet.
In Class C, Waynflete's girls, thanks in large part to a 1-2 individual finish, won their third successive title.
The Cheverus girls entered the season expecting to be a top contender in Class A, thanks to the return of several key runners and the addition of sophomore transfer Emily Durgin, who was runner-up at the state meet in 2008 while competing for Bonny Eagle.
The Stags had no equal during the regular season, winning every meet in which they participated. Cheverus then cruised to the regional title and had no trouble finishing the job Saturday at states. The Stags finished with 52 points to easily defeat second-place Massabesic (101). Deering was 13th with 291 points.
Individually, Durgin was second to nemesis Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk, but still posted a superb time of 18 minutes, 21 seconds on the 5-kilometer course to come in first for scoring purposes (Kennebunk didn't run as a team). The Stags also got points from senior Liana Rubinoff (sixth, 19:44), sophomore Fiona Hendry (seventh, 19:46), senior Amelia Lunkdvist (12th, 20:12) and sophomore Maddie Woods (26th, 21:24). Freshman Greta Niedermeyer (54th, 22:35) and junior Caroline Summa (63rd, 23:06) also took part.
"When we started the season, we knew we would have a strong team," said Cheverus coach Valerie Guillet. "Little by little, it became obvious that we would have the most formidable team Cheverus had ever assembled. We already had a very focused team, a team with one goal: to become state champions.
"Last week's regional win obviously gave (the girls) confidence, but all of them took their task with the utmost seriousness entering Saturday's state meet. Emily, who finished second in her fastest time this season, ran a good race but the early, rather comfortable pace gave Abbey Leonardi the opportunity to eventually use her great speed to surge at mile 2 and never be seen again. Liana caught up to Fiona and eventually was our second runner in a time almost identical to that of last week's. Shortly behind Fiona, Amelia ran 40 seconds faster than the previous week, helping us place our top four runners in the top 15. And as if this were not enough, the extraordinary surprise of the day was to come in 28th position, the first fifth runner of all teams, who incidentally also crossed the finish line before any fourth runner from any other team: Maddie Woods. Saturday was Maddie's day. Our sixth and seventh runners were Greta and Caroline. Greta started the season in 25 minutes and at states, on the most challenging course this year, she ran in 22:35, a minute faster than the week before.
"When they had all crossed the finish line, there was still a bit of disbelief among the team members. The announcements came shortly after the boys' race. Both the boys' and girls' teams were state champions! It was now time to celebrate this formidable win and historic moment for our school. It took nine years. That afternoon, I sent a message to the first Cheverus female athlete, Christie Kapothanasis, as well as a few other Cheverus graduates who remembered the days when assembling five girls to form a team was a small exploit. All expressed their joy and pride for their alma mater's success. We have made great strides."
With five of their top seven returning in 2010, don't be surprised if the Stags do it again.
Deering took part in its first state meet since 2005. Sophomore Ella Ramonas continued to turn heads, finishing ninth (20:03). The Rams also got points from Ania Chandler (31st, 21:41), Kristin Pollard (71st, 23:30), Nighty Otto (87th, 24:58) and Sarah Savage (93rd, 26:54). Dali Tauwala (95th, 27:52) also completed the race.
McAuley senior Lauren Fecteau, running as an individual, had the 20th-best time (20:59).
In the boys' race, Cheverus had 83 points to hold off recent nemesis Scarborough (97) to win its 18th state title since 1971. Deering (307 points) finished 14th.
The Stags had four of the top 14 finishers and that was too much for the Red Storm to overcome. Junior Jack Terwilliger had another strong state meet, placing sixth in 16:42. Senior Taylor Dundas was right behind in seventh position (16:46). Senior Andrew Snyder (12th, 16:59), senior Tim Woods (14th, 17:04) and senior Matt Bulger (44th, 18:14) were the other scorers. Sophomore Lukas Temple (45th, 18:17) and freshman Brady Foshay (69th, 19:00) also took part.
"It was exciting," said first-year Cheverus coach Bruce Bickford. "I knew the competition would be stiffer at states. I knew our guys were up there, but I saw a lot of Scarborough guys coming in. I had to calm myself down, but the guys did what they had to do. It was the last chance for the team to be together. Nothing would deter them. They said they were going to do it and they did. They've been so easy to work with."
The Stags graduate four of their top five (Terwilliger is the lone returner from that group) and will have their work cut out trying to repeat, but don't rule Cheverus out of the running in 2010.
"It'll be a little leaner next year, but we have some good guys coming up," Bickford said.
For Deering, Tom Dean led the way with a 39th-place finish (18:04). Sean Perry (58th, 18:40), Lagu Luka (60th, 18:43), Arjan Nekoie (74th, 19:20) and Alex Hebert (76th, 19:23) were the other scorers. Gabe Turner (88th, 19:49) and Jesse Butler (92nd, 20:12) were the other participants for the Rams.
Portland's Cole Hutchison, competing as an individual, had the 37th-best time (17:53).
Waynflete won the 2007 and 2008 Class C girls' titles behind the individual brilliance of Adele Espy. After Espy graduated, the Flyers were expected to come back to the pack, but two runners who weren't even on the team last fall made sure the program stayed at the top. After a solid regular season, Waynflete impressed at both the conference and regional meets behind first-year senior Amy Allen and freshman Martha Veroneau.
Saturday, the Flyers (barely) had enough to three-peat, scoring 37 points, which was one fewer than North Yarmouth Academy. Favored Freeport came in third with 53 points.
Individually, this time it was Veroneau's turn to steal the show, placing first in 21:04. Allen was second (21:20). Waynflete also got points from sophomore Emily Trafton (ninth, 23:12), freshman Phoebe Suva (11th, 23:51) and senior Grace High (14th, 24:11). Junior Mica Thompson (18th, 24:53) and senior Rachel Hamilton (26th, 26:46) were the other Flyers competitors.
"It was an exciting day for the girls," said Waynflete coach Brian "Ziggy" Gillespie. "They were ecstatic. It was an agonizing and fun way to win. NYA certainly ran a great race, they have a lot of seniors and that is a huge factor in a state meet. That together with being well coached, was certainly a big concern for us. We were so focused on Freeport, we fell asleep in regards to NYA. I knew our ability to go 1-2, and our strength at 5-6-7 would help in a close race. We had a race plan, and the girls all did their individual jobs. I was very happy for Martha after (losing a shoe in) last week's race and Amy has been a force all season, what she has done this fall with no experience is amazing."
The Flyers like their chances to make it four in a row in 2010.
"We have seven of our top 10 runners coming back next fall, so a fourth straight state championship looks very promising," Gillespie said.
Waynflete's boys' team didn't qualify for states, but freshman Abukar Adan had the 12th-best individual time (18:05). Freshman Josh Espy placed 36th (19:03).
"I was very pleased with the progress of the boys' team this fall," Gillespie said. "We might have over 20 boys running next fall. We just missed running in the state meet as a team. Both Abkur and Josh had 5K (personal bests) and were the third and fifth freshmen to finish. We might be in a position next fall to be a real factor in Class C cross country."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org