All six local cross country teams qualify for states
The one-week delay was worth the wait for local cross country runners and teams at the regional championships Saturday at Twin Brook in Cumberland.
Cape Elizabeth's girls' juggernaut continued to trounce all comers, taking the Western B title for the seventh year in a row, scoring 29 points to easily outdistance York (80). The Capers now take aim at a third straight state championship. Cape Elizabeth's boys' team came in fourth with 94 points and will look to bounce back at states. Greely won the region with 35 points. York (74) and Falmouth (92) also finished ahead of the Capers.
In Western A, the biggest story was the success of the two South Portland squads. The boys ended a five-year drought and qualified for states by placing seventh at regionals with 184 points. Cheverus (44) came in first. Scarborough (which had its top runner disqualified) came in third with 99 points. The Red Riots girls got back to states for the first time since 2006 by scoring 180 points to also place seventh. Cheverus (43) won that race as well. Scarborough (134) placed fifth.
Cape Elizabeth's girls have had no peer in recent seasons and following a dominant regular campaign, kept the good times rolling Saturday. All five scorers for the Capers finished in the top 10, a monumental feat. Senior Emily Attwood led the way with a runner-up finish (completing the 5-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 4.9 seconds). Junior Rachel Nichols came in fourth (20:26.74). Junior Kelsey Barton placed sixth (20:37.67). Senior Hannah Doss was seventh (20:48.71) and freshman Emma Inhorn came in 10th (21:10.29). Sophomore Catherine Tierney (17th, 21:46.14) and freshman Ellen Best (29th, 22:40.96) also competed and would have scored for nearly every other team.
"I thought the girls ran a strong race as a whole," said Cape Elizabeth coach Mary Ann Doss. "I was thrilled, to say the least. Hannah and Emma had stellar races. They were both very aggressive and raced out of their minds. We attempted a new team strategy and it seemed to work well. They are incredibly fit and ready to go this Saturday. If all goes well and we execute our race strategy, we should have a great day. Our goal is to once again repeat as state champions."
The Capers boys hoped to give Greely a scare, but settled for fourth. Sophomore Thomas Bottomley led the way with an eighth-place finish (17:26.58). Senior Peter Brigham (13th, 17:48.47), junior Leo Ledman (20th, 17:53.92), junior Reid Douty (22nd, 18:00.68) and junior Sean Thomas (31st, 18:33.56) also scored. Senior Bobby Yokabaskas (32nd, 18:31.52) and junior Paul Trantina (46th, 19:04.26) were the other participants.
"The regional was not our best effort," said Cape Elizabeth coach Dave Weatherbie. "The boys are eager to produce an improved result at the state meet Saturday."
Climbing the ladder
The South Portland boys qualified for states for the first time since the Paul Brogan Era. Leading the way for the Red Riots Saturday was senior Jon Clement, who placed sixth in 17:09.23. Junior Matt Clement came in 16th (17:44.48). Junior Sam Redstone (50th, 18:59.11), junior Tom Redstone (52nd, 19:03.42) and sophomore Jamison Esquibel (60th, 19:25.38) rounded out the scorers. Freshman Ryan Tuttle (63rd, 19:28.87) and senior Joe Michaud (69th, 19:43.36) also took part.
Despite their strong showing, the Red Riots were hoping for more.
"The meet was most definitely a mixed bag," said coach Andrew Lupien. "We entered the meet with a goal of finishing in the top five in the region, which we thought was reasonable after our 12-4 regular season record. Unfortunately, we didn't run up to our potential and finished seventh. On the bright side, we finished in the top eight for the first time in several years and qualified for the state meet. Jon Clement finished sixth overall after a 12th place finish last year. His brother Matt, who is running cross country for the first time as a junior, finished 16th. These were both bright spots for our team. We were hoping that our pack of runners from 3-7 would finish in the 30's overall and for the most part they finished in the 50's. This dropped us a few places.
"This will be the first cross country state meet for six of our seven runners, Jon ran as an individual qualifier last season. Our goal is to run better as a team and hopefully have a top 10 team finish in Class A. Jon is hoping to qualify for the New England Championship by finishing in the top 25 overall, all classes. To do this, he will need to cut about 20 seconds off of his time from last week."
Scarborough has won four of the past five Class A crowns, but has its work cut out this season. Senior Nate Hathaway lapped the field Saturday, but was disqualified for (horror of horrors) wearing a bracelet, which is against Maine Principals' Association rules. As a result, sophomore Nick Morris (fourth, 16:59.27) was the top Red Storm finisher. Other scorers included senior Sean Griffin (22nd, 18:00.94), freshman Robby Hall (23rd, 18:01.21), junior Zach Brown (24th, 18:02.37) and junior Tom Hague (26th, 18:09.57). Senior Joe Prosack (36th, 18:32.93) also competed.
"The regional meet was a little disappointing, but we're looking forward to the state meet," said Scarborough coach Jim Harmon. "The team to beat will still be Cheverus, but Massabesic, Gorham, Brunswick and Edward Little are all strong teams we will also have to contend with. I know our team is in great shape and I like our chances, but we won't know how it will turn out until just after noon on Saturday."
In the girls' race, South Portland was paced by junior Annelise Donahue, who was 17th (21:19.09). Freshman Bridget Mulligan (27th, 22:14.18), junior Maria Letourneau (35th, 22:29.15), freshman Jackie Merrill (46th, 23:22.44) and senior Bobielynn Fisher (55th, 24:00.69) also scored. Sophomore Shelby Miller (57th, 24:12.23) and senior Tanya Wilkes (80th, 26:19.71) also took part.
"We had some good runs last week from Annelise Donahue, Bridget Mulligan, and Maria Letourneau," said Red Riots coach Karen Reardon. "Jackie Merrill and Bobielynn Fisher did what they needed to do in order to get our team in the state meet. The team is very much looking forward to competing Saturday. It was a goal that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season, so it is nice to realize it as a team. We have been improving each week and I think the team will run with maybe a little more confidence this week. We expect to have (freshman) Nyajouk Pan as well, and that should just make us stronger as team. She competed very well this season, so it should be interesting. Annelise also gained a great deal of confidence after Saturday's race, so that bodes well for us too. Cheverus should be strong in the team standings, as well as Massabesic and Gorham. Mt. Blue and Mt. Ararat should be strong teams from Eastern Maine. We hope for good weather and good racing, my team seems to be coming together for the meet."
Scarborough, which won the regional and state crown a year ago, will have a chance to defend its state title, but will need to turn it up a notch. At regionals, senior Melissa DellaTorre led the way with an 11th place finish (20:27.03). Junior Abby Chick (23rd, 21:54.02), junior Sarah Dugas (30th, 22:19.56), senior Margaret Benoit (32nd, 22:22.08) and junior Emily O'Connor (38th, 22:31.66) were the other scorers. Senior Libby Davis (49th, 22:37.22) and freshman Jessica Cote (53rd, 23:54.03) also took part.
"Melissa had a very good race," said longtime Red Storm coach Ron Kelly. "As a team, we did not run the first mile fast enough. The team will make that adjustment and we should see a better team performance. If we can have a great race, we could battle for second or third. Cheverus would have to have one of their top four not finish the race for any one else to challenge."
State meet times
Saturday, back at Twin Brook, the state championships will be held. Scarborough and South Portland's girls kick things off at 11 a.m. in the Class A race. The Class A boys go at 11:45 a.m. Cape Elizabeth's girls run at 12:30 p.m., in the Classs B championship. The Class B boys' race starts at 12:30 p.m. Class C rounds out the day with the girls' meet at 2 p.m. and the boys' at 2:45 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com