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Cheverus sweeps Western A cross country crowns: Both Deering teams, Waynflete girls also qualify for states

Sports

Cheverus sweeps Western A cross country crowns: Both Deering teams, Waynflete girls also qualify for states

Local cross country runners made the most of their extra week of preparation for the regional championships and stepped up big-time Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.

Cheverus lived up to preseason billing by sweeping the Western A crowns.

In the boys' race, the Stags had the top three finishers and wound up with 44 points, more than enough to down Massabesic (88), Scarborough (99) and Gorham (105). Deering had 193 points and was the eighth and final team from the region to qualify. Portland (270 points) came in 11th.

On the girls' side, Cheverus posted 43 points, which was 40 better than runner-up Massabesic. Deering (225) was eighth and made the cut. Portland (301 points, 12th place) and McAuley (385 points, 13th) did not.

In Western C, two-time defending state champion Waynflete had 49 points in the girls' race to finish three points behind Freeport. The Flyers finished tied with North Yarmouth Academy, but wound up second on a sixth-place individual tiebreaker.

The Waynflete boys had 184 points, but finished eighth (only the top six teams qualified).


Stags sparkle

The Cheverus boys won the regional title in 2008, but slipped to third at the state meet. This year, the Stags aim to go all the way. After a dominant regular season, Cheverus rode roughshod over the region.

Scarborough's Nate Hathaway was the top individual finisher Saturday, but was disqualified for (horror of horrors) wearing a bracelet, which is a violation of Maine Principals' Association rules. That transgression gave the No. 1 finish to Stags junior standout Jack Terwilliger, who completed the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 49.98 seconds. Senior Taylor Dundas was second (16:51.45) and senior Andrew Snyder came in third (16:53.40). Senior Tim Woods (eighth, 17:15.40) and senior Max Bulger (30th, 18:21.53) also scored. Sophomore Lukas Temple (41st, 18:41.53) and sophomore David Woodbury (78th, 20:06.80) also took part.

"It would have been hard for anyone to beat us Saturday," said Cheverus coach Bruce Bickford. "The kids ran so well up front. I was happy with the performance. I think the guys were too. It was a fun day. It's good to see us come out on top against good teams."

Deering, which didn't qualify for states in 2007 or 2008 (the Rams were 12th at regionals last fall), was led Saturday by Tom Dean's 27th-place finish (18:09.73). Sean Perry (35th, 18:30.22), Laug Luka (37th, 18:33.14), Gabe Turner (46th, 18:49.52) and Arjan Nekoie (48th, 18:55.02) were the other Deering scorers. Jesse Butler (82nd, 20:13.45) and Alex Hebert (86th, 20:33.12) also competed.

 "Things went the way they were supposed to," said Deering coach Dick Kress. "We were seeded eighth and we finished eighth. Our sixth and seventh runners did not run well, so they're glad to get another chance. Our goal is to beat at least one team at states and use the meet as experience for next year. We're a young team."

Portland's top finisher was senior Cole Hutchinson, who qualified for states as an individual with a 15th-place performance (17:39.20). Sophomore Dexter Morse (47th, 18:53.06), sophomore Sam Hamilton (49th, 18:57.01), senior Simon Thompson (79th, 20:08.02) and senior Tim Weber (80th, 20:09.83) rounded out the scorers. Senior William Murdock (91st, 21:00.26) and senior Joshua Staples (99th, 22:04.74) also took part.

The big story in the Western A girls' race was the performance of Cheverus sophomore Emily Durgin, who defeated Kennebunk's Abbey Leonardi in a highly-anticipated showdown. Durgin finished with a time of 18 minutes, 25.38 seconds. Sophomore Fiona Hendry (third, 19:32.07) and senior Liana Rubinoff (fourth, 19:44.51) also placed in the top five. Senior Amelia Lundkvist (14th, 20:51.57) and sophomore Madeline Woods (21st, in a personal best time of 21:49.22) were the other scorers. Freshman Greta Niedermeyer (49th, 23:30.12) and junior Caroline Summa (51st, 23:49.54) also competed.

"It was a very nice day for us as we have never captured a regional title in my nine years at Cheverus either in cross-country or track and field," said Stags coach Valerie Guillet. "I have a very special and talented team and we have worked really hard together all season long. The team is entirely focused on doing well at states and we spend every bit of our time staying motivated, healthy, and well-prepared. Emily's win was icing on the cake, a sweet victory for Emily who has been running against Abby Leonardi in second place since fifth grade. Abby ran a very hard race and her time was excellent, but in the end, Emily prevailed."

Deering hadn't qualified for states since 2005, made the cut this time. Ella Ramonas led the way, placing 15th in 21:08.37. Ania Chandler (25th, 21:57.77), Kristin Pollard (51st, 23:50.11), Kaela Holmes (62nd, 24:32.13) and Dali Tauwala (72nd, 25:13.14) also scored. Nighty Otto (76th, 26:00.17) and Azaria Galli (84th, 27:14.54) ran, but did not score.

McAuley, which saw its streak of six straight state appearances end, did qualify an individual, senior Lauren Fecteau, who was 19th (21:37.05). Sophomore Rebecca Kaiser (68th, 24:59.68), sophomore Chloe Leida (98th, 32:02.07), sophomore Wendy Doan (99th, 35:37.85) and sophomore Kate Liziewski (101st, 35:58.49) rounded out the scorers. Expect the Lions' young nucleus to build on this year's experience to return to the mix in 2010.

Portland, which hasn't qualified for states since 1998, will have to wait another year. The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Helen Otto (41st, 22:49.46). Sophomore Nyawel Lia (44th, 23:08.90), sophomore Alice Lala (64th, 24:33.94), sophomore Maxine Eisenberg (73rd, 25:17.15) and senior Liza Iselborn (79th, 26:15.86) also scored. Sophomore Devon Miller (90th, 28:49.03) and sophomore Mara Dittrich-Salamon (100th, 35:58.49) also took part.

Flyers in the mix

The small, but potent Waynflete program has made its mark in a short time in Class C. The girls have placed in the top three at states in each of the past four years and were first in 2007 and again last season. The Flyers came very close to winning the regional crown Saturday, but wound up just short of Freeport.

Senior Amy Allen did take individual honors, placing first in 21:31.87. Other Waynflete scorers included freshman phenom Martha Veroneau (fourth, 22:27.16), sophomore Emily Trafton (ninth, 23:10.40), freshman Phoebe Suva (17th, 25:06.53) and senior Grace High (18th, 25:09.54). Junior Mica Thompson's 21st-place finish (25:45.16) was six spots better than NYA's sixth-place runner to give the Flyers second place over the Panthers. Senior Rachel Hamilton (26th, 26:22.96) also took part.

"I have a unique situation in that my top two girls are running cross country for the first time," said Waynflete coach Ziggy Gillespie. "Amy has been amazing, having never run in a race of any kind. She's ranked second in the state. Martha is having a senior-type year as a freshman. her first time at Twin Brook, she was over a minute faster than (former standout state champion) Adele Espy was as a freshman. That says a lot for her potential.

"I knew from the gun we were in trouble, there were supposed to be eight teams, but there were only five. That meant 21 runners were not in the race. Those 21 runners would have pushed back teams' fifth runners. Our strength as a team is our strong 1-2 runners and our very strong 5-6-7 runners. Then, Martha lost a shoe in the race. Despite all this, we only lost by three points, certainly a postive."

In the boys' meet, the Flyers saw freshman Abukar Adan qualify as an individual after placing 10th (18:23.60). Freshman Josh Espy (23rd, 19:12.74) will also run next week. Sophomore Mitch Newlin (44th, 20:22.60), freshman Abdisalan Mohamud (53rd, 21:05.85) and senior Nate Niles (54th, 21:05.93) rounded out the scorers. Freshman Myoung Kim (57th, 21:22.37) and sophomore Eric Nathanson (67th, 22:34.48) also competed.

"The boys were also affected by a lack of teams, 18 were supposed to run, only 12 did," said Gillespie. "Abkur and Josh qualified for the states as freshman. The boys team continues to get stronger."

State meet time

This Saturday, back at Twin Brook, all eyes will be on the state championship meets.

The Cheverus and Deering girls get things started with the Class A meet at 11 a.m.

"Emily will try to repeat this Saturday's exploit while Fiona Hendry will do everything she can to shake things up and show that she is and has never stopped being a force with which to reckon," said Guillet. "Liana, who is having her strongest season to date, will also try to repeat her top four time while Amelia is hoping to finish a good minute faster this coming Saturday. Maddie Woods will try to be our fifth runner again, but will face tough competition in Caroline who will be looking forward to redeeming herself. I have a lot of trust in their ability to do well when the stakes are high. They have done it many times and I trust they can do it again. I can't wait to see them race this Saturday and embrace the challenge."

The Class A boys run at 11:45 a.m.

"We won't overlook anyone," Bickford said. "I feel good about how we're running. We have four good top guys and a steady fifth. I think Scarborough's still the team to beat. They're very strong with great depth. Edward Little and Lewiston are also very formidable."

Class B's girls start at 12:30 p.m. The Class B boys run at 1:15 p.m.

Waynflete will take part in the Class C girls' meet at 2 p.m. The Class C boys' race ends the festivities at 2:45 p.m.

"I think it will be a very close girls' race with Freeport, Waynflete, and NYA," Gillespie said. "Six teams will be in the states, that will certainly help us. We look forward to racing Freeport again. I have told our girls many times that Freeport was the third-ranked team in Class B last fall. They have a rich history."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Photo: John Jensenius
Deering's Tom Dean (front), with teammates Sean Perry (left) and Laug Luka close behind, made the turn during the Western Class A regional cross country meet at Twin Brook. The Rams qualified for the state meet with an eighth place finish.

Photo: John Jensenius
McAuley's Lauren Fecteau, who qualified for states as an individual, neared the finish line in the girls' Western A race.