Saturday’s cross-country state championship meet in Belfast featured a bit of the unexpected.
While Falmouth and Greely’s quest to win the Class B boys’ crown was denied by Caribou, Class C had a decidedly Forecaster Country feel as North Yarmouth Acdemy won its first boys’ crown in eight seasons and Freeport’s Merriconeag Waldorf School girls’ squad won its first.
The Panthers boys’ team tallied 60 points to easily outdistance runner-up Freeport (99). Merriconeag (169) came in seventh.
Merriconeag’s nickname-less girls, edged three-time defending champion Waynflete (46-52), while NYA (81) came in third and Freeport (88) placed fourth.
In the Western B boys’ meet, Greely was going for four titles in a row and Falmouth liked its chances, but in the end, Caribou was the champion with 92 points, eight better than the Yachtsmen. The Rangers, competing without top runner Sam Johnston, were fifth (124). Yarmouth (231) came in ninth.
On the girls’ side, John Bapst ended powerhouse Cape Elizabeth’s three-year reign (72-78). Falmouth (141) was fourth, Yarmouth (146) fifth and Greely (227) placed ninth.
Changing of the guard
Merriconeag made a splash at last year’s state meet when the boys came in fourth and a pair of girls impressed as individuals.
This time around, the girls ended Waynflete’s reign with a strong team performance. Sophomore Zoe Chace-Donahue was fifth overall and second for scoring purposes after she finished the 5-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 2.38 seconds. Freshmen Teagan Wu (fifth, 21:36.19) and Carlin Tindall (eighth, 21:57.03) also were top 10 finishers. Other scorers included sophomore Emelie Chace-Donahue (14th, 22:34.04) and freshman Emma Dolan (17th, 22:46.45).
“Winning the state championship in the first year of our girls’ running program was a very satisfying accomplishment,” said Merriconeag coach Tom Ryan. “The school, which has an enrollment of 37, is probably the smallest school to ever win a state championship.”
Ryan said the seeds of this title were planted months ago.
“The win tells me that the plan we put in place in May worked,” Ryan said. “Since this school does not have an outdoor track program, it was important to organize the team early and to get them running over the summer. I met with the middle school eighth graders in May in an attempt to fill out the girls’ team and to find new boys for the team as well.
“In mid-summer, the team attended a running camp that I organized. Seventeen kids attended, half of the school. It was a great way to get the team united and to introduce the freshman runners to the team. Early in the season, at a meet in York, the Freeport coach said to me that our girls could be state champs. At that point, that thought had never entered my mind. His comment caused me to think about the possibility.
“Bottom line, our teams, boys and girls, worked very hard to prepare for a successful season. They set goals early in the year, both personal goals and team goals. A few of the kids had their sights set on winning the state meet. Their enthusiasm motivated others to take the season seriously and to work to their potential. The kids trained as a team, prepared for each race as a team and competed as a team. Credit for their success is directly attributed to their efforts and desire to succeed.”
NYA had two top 10 finishers: junior Hillary Detert (third, 21:09.43) and junior Maggie Meixell (seventh, 21:56.36). Juniors Sarah Jordan (11th, 22:14.98), Morgan Scully (24th, 23:30.54) and Hadley Gibson (36th, 24:19.63) also scored.
Freeport was led once again by senior Lauren Easler, who placed sixth in 21:52.81. Junior Ellie Soule (10th, 22:13.24), freshman Gabby Tilton (19th, 23:02.87), freshman Emily Jennings (23rd, 23:27.84) and sophomore Lia Wellin (30th, 23:50.69) were the other scorers.
On the boys’ side, NYA won its third overall Class C crown (it went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002) thanks to all five runners finishing under 18 minutes.
Juniors Cam Regan (fifth, 17:11.94), Evan Kendall (eighth, 17:20.84) and Rudy Guiliani (10th, 17:36.22) all placed in the top 10. Senior Elliot Daniels (17th, 17:54.44) and junior Grant McPherson (20th, 17:59.70) also scored.
“The boys ran very well on Saturday,” said Panthers coach Peter Sillin. “They really showed what they were capable of. Cam and Evan ran really smart races. A lot of the field went out very fast at the start of the race, but Cam and Evan stuck to the race plan. By biding their time and not panicking early, they put themselves in position to move up quite decisively in the last mile. Rudy ran his best race of the year and Elliot and Grant ran by far the best races of their lives. Brian Trelegan was crucial as our sixth man. He displaced the third place runners on most of the other teams and freshman Ian Moore met the race goals we set beforehand. All the top six guys set personal records on Saturday, which was impressive considering the conditions.”
With four of five scorers and six of its top seven returning, NYA has a great shot to do it again in 2011.
“The future looks bright,” Sillin said. “Elliot is our only senior, so if everyone does their summer work and stays healthy, we should have a deep team of experienced racers.”
Freeport’s scorers were senior Griffin Day (15th, 17:45.74), senior Bennett Wade (16th, 17:51), sophomore Ian McGhie (19th, 17:57.18), senior Max Jennings (23rd, 18:14.52) and sophomore Mason Cyr (26th, 18:20.93).
Merriconeag was paced by sophomore standout Jack Pierce, who was third (16:45.27). Senior Phineas Samuelson (25th, 18:18.41), junior Tyler O’Brien (33rd, 18:30.82), sophomore Ben Tindall (52nd, 19:40.82) and junior Cyrus Fenderson (56th, 19:51.38) also scored.
Not this year
Greely and Falmouth boys’ teams both had high hopes entering the state meet, but both teams wound up short-handed. The Rangers lost Johnston to a disciplinary issue and the Yachtsmen were without their No. 2, Johnny Lake, who succumbed to a stress fracture.
Falmouth wound up second, thanks in large part to the continued dominance of junior Tim Follo, who placed runner-up to Fryeburg’s Silas Eastman in 16:21.30. Junior Conor McGrory (18th, 17:23.57), junior Henry Briggs (21st, 17:30.52), junior Thomas Edmonds (24th, 17:35.39) and sophomore Azad Jalali (35th, 17:50.81) were the other scorers.
“Losing Johnny was tough and impressively his mates rose up and raced their best all season,” said Yachtsmen co-coach Danny Paul.
“The boys learned on Friday night that Johnny would not be available for the state meet,” co-coach Jorma Kurry added. “They handled this adversity extremely well, rebounding from last week’s third-place finish at regionals to earn runner-up honors to Caribou. We had a very good day, with lots of personal bests. Tim was outstanding as always, but the real boost came from Henry’s performance. After a great week of practice, he ran the race of his life. We got great efforts as well from Conor, Thomas, Azad, (junior) Colby (Howland) and (sophomore) Jay (Lesser), subbing in at the last minute. All of them ran tough and we were very proud of the effort.
“Next year looks good as all seven runners return, as well as Will Robinson, Sean Hodgdon, Tristan Tucker and lots of other quality runners. We have very high hopes and are excited already.”
Greely was paced by junior Stefan Sandreuter (ninth, 17:12.01). Sophomore Nathan Madeira (23rd, 17:34.50), senior Connor Regan (25th, 17:35.67), junior Isaak Emery (26th, 17:37.07) and senior Justin Murphy (41st, 18:04.43) also scored.
“The team, led by Stefan, all ran personal bests or close to it for the 5K distance,” said Rangers coach David Dowling. “Nate, Connor, Isaak and Justin rounded out the top five. Also running in the top seven were Jamie Currie and Ian Byron. With four to five teams vying for the top spot, circumstances favored Caribou, which ran an excellent team race.
“Next year we return five of the top seven with veteran runners Matt Davis and Costa Pollak as part of the top 10.”
Yarmouth finished in the top 10 for the third year in a row. The Clippers featured senior Ben Nickerson, who was 14th (17:18.94). Senior Ben Woodbury (19th, 17:26.34), sophomore Thomas Robichaud (48th, 18:09.27), freshman Braden Becker (74th, 18:58.12) and freshman Jack Elder (76th, 18:58.12) were the other scorers.
“The coaches are very, very proud of all the boys and girls who ran for Yarmouth this season,” said longtime Clippers coach Bob Morse. “Special thanks to our captains. The seniors will be missed. Also a special thanks to all the boys and girls who came and supported the team with face painting and signs. It was awesome.
“We’ll have a very young team coming back next season. Not one member of the junior class has run yet. We have a sophomore and four freshmen. Also, we have the potential of six freshmen joining the team next fall, so the numbers look good.”
In the girls’ race, Falmouth had four girls finish in succession: senior Maggie Parrish (25th, 21:10.58), sophomore Meg Palombo (26th, 21:13.30), junior Jena Mannette (27th, 21:20.18) and sophomore Summer Greenwood (28th, 21:21.02). Sophomore Abby Payson (35th, 21:34.60) was the other scorer.
“Our girls ran a strong meet, with a tight 1-5 pack,” Kurry said. “Our goal of a top five finish was achieved and we were pleased with the aggressiveness of the girls, not afraid to challenge the top teams. We were happy with the performance, especially Jena’s outstanding run. She has made dramatic progress over the past few weeks.
“With only Maggie Parrish graduating from our top seven and Sarah Abramson from our top 10, we should be very strong next year. We look forward to challenging Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, MDI and John Bapst for honors in 2011. Emily Rand and Jena Mannette will be seniors and our class of 2013, led by Meg, Abby, Summer, Molly Ryan and Cassie Darrow, is very strong. If these girls come into the fall with a strong base, they will be strong group.”
“We have truly enjoyed and appreciated this group and next fall cannot come soon enough,” Paul added.
Yarmouth’s best state finish since 2003 was keyed by sophomore Sarah Becker, who placed eighth (20:19.31). Sophomore Joss Richards-Daniels (17th, 20:40.35), sophomore Sydney Sperber (31st, 21:26.29), junior Hope Saulter (43rd, 21:47.81) and sophomore Brittany Elvidge (47th, 21:56.53) also scored.
“The girls’ goal was to make the top five in states. Mission accomplished,” said Morse. “We’re returning five runners from the state meet and nine-plus runners who are hungry to run in states next season, plus freshman and new additions to the team. The outlook is great.”
For Greely, freshman sensational Kirstin Sandreuter capped her dazzling year with a second-place finish (19:45.41). Senior Megan Stroud (34th, 21:33.59), sophomore Jordan Ouellette (45th, 21:48.64), freshman Krista Marble (70th, 22:44.45) and Julia Isaacson (76th, 23:30.47) were the other scorers.
“The girls were led by Kirstin’s 20-second 5K personal best,” said Dowling. “Also running well were Megan, Jordan, Krista and Julia. The team maintained its position against Western Maine schools and had a successful race. Next year, four of the top seven return.”
The New England championships are Saturday, Nov. 13, in Vermont. The Merriconeag girls’ team, Falmouth and NYA boys’ squads and Greely’s Kirstin Sandreuter and Merriconeag’s Jack Pierce made the cut.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
NYA’s Cam Regan (front) and Evan Kendall were just two reasons why the Panthers won the Class C boys’ cross country championship for the first time in eight years Saturday. Regan finished fifth and Kendall eighth.
Merriconeag freshman Emma Dolan was her team’s fifth-place scorer (and came in 17th overall) as she helped the Freeport school win its first Class C state championship.