Cross country rivals race, stay friends

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(Ed. Note: Johnny Lake is a senior at Falmouth High School and is contributing periodic reports on the Yachtsmen’s cross-country team and the sport in general during the upcoming season)

In sports such as football, soccer and basketball, rivalries are an arbitrary, shared hatred and bad blood between teams that are only rivals because, “that’s the way it is.”

Like the Capulets and Montagues of Shakespeare lore, no one can trace the rivalry back to its beginning, but the rivalry passes the test of time, even strengthening like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill.

This is most certainly not the case in cross-country. On numerous occasions I have congratulated and been congratulated by multiple runners from “rival” teams. This past Friday after our meet the Falmouth boys cooled down with the Yarmouth boys.

I’ve found that running is so much more of a community than other sports. Teams may strive to beat each other, but at the end of the day, those teams have become better because of each other. That has been the case with the Greely Rangers, Falmouth Yachtsmen and the Cape Elizabeth Capers for the past decade. These three teams are the only three to have won Class B Boys cross-country titles in the new millennium.

For the past three years, the Greely Rangers have ruled Class B. For the two years before that, Cape Elizabeth dominated the trails. Now, for the first time since 2004, there is no clear-cut favorite in the Western Maine Conference and the anticipation for the big meets is almost palpable.

The first meet between Greely, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth will take place Oct. 2 at the Festival of Champions in Belfast and you can count on everyone bringing their “A” game. Over the course of this season, my teammates and I have competed against the Capers and Rangers on separate occasions.

In the first meet of the season at Gull Crest Field in Cape Elizabeth, we prevailed over Cape 33-40, with both teams showing they meant business in 2010. This past Friday, we met up with Greely, Yarmouth, and Lake Region at Community Park in Falmouth.

The boys’ runners went out fast and quickly regretted this as we ducked into the woods and came to the portion of our home course that sets it apart from most others in the state of Maine.

After two short, steep hills I found myself behind teammate Tim Follo, Sam Johnston of Greely, and Ben Nickerson of Yarmouth. Up one more hill, out of the woods, and up another hill, our usual No. 4, Thomas Edmonds, caught me and dragged me back up to Nickerson, who had put distance on me over the course of about a mile. I passed Ben going into the woods for the last time, followed closely by Thomas, and we finished in that order. Tim won for the third straight week, putting Falmouth’s first three finishers in front of Greely’s No. 2, Stefan Sandreuter, who finished sixth.

Overall, we went 1-3-4-7-11, to finish with 26 points to Greely’s 41, Yarmouth’s 64, and Lake Region’s 109.

In the girls’ meet, Yarmouth was the winner with 33 points, two points better than Falmouth. Greely was third with 68. Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely was the individual champion (20:34). Falmouth’s Maggie Parrish was runner-up (21:16). The Clippers were paced by Sarah Becker (third, 21:43).

Many teams (including the Yachtsmen) are resting their top seven runners for Saturday’s Southwest Classic held at Twin Brooks in Cumberland. This will give us a chance to cheer on our teammates from the sidelines and to spend time with our friends from other teams, but everyone will have their eyes trained at the Festival of Champions, where a team from Class B will establish itself as the team to beat in 2010.

Until then, the only enemy is the clock.

Sidebar Elements

Greely’s Stefan Sandreuter holds a slight lead over Falmouth’s Conor McGrory during Friday’s meet in Falmouth. Sandreuter held off McGrory by seven seconds for sixth place, but the Yachtsmen were first as a team.

Yarmouth’s Chloe Sarapas (front) and Josselyn Richards-Daniels head for fifth- and sixth-place respective finishes in the girls’ meet. The Clippers won the race, with Falmouth second and Greely third.