Freeport sweeps Western C cross country titles; Greely boys take Western B
The regional cross country meets were worth the wait for local teams.
Pushed back a week by rain, Saturday's races proved to be a showcase for top runners from Forecaster Country as nine of 10 teams made the cut for this weekend's state championships.
Freeport, back in Class C where it dominated earlier this decade, swept the competition.
The boys had 68 points to finish first. The Merriconeag-Waldorf School, located in Freeport and New Gloucester, in just its third varsity season, was runner-up with 97 points. North Yarmouth Academy qualified with a fourth-place finish (119).
On the girls' side, Freeport had 46 points. NYA finished tied with Waynflete with 49 points, but wound up third since the Panthers' sixth-place runner came in behind her Flyers' counterpart. NYA qualified for states nonetheless.
In Class B, the Greely boys won a second straight regional crown, scoring 35 points and easily outdistancing York (74). Falmouth (92 points) placed third. Yarmouth (132 points) finished fifth and qualified for the state meet.
In the girls' Class B race, won by powerhouse Cape Elizabeth (29 points), Falmouth (124 points, fourth) and Greely (149, sixth) qualified. Yarmouth (187, seventh) fell just short.
Feel good stories
From 2003 through 2006, the Freeport girls won Class C titles and was among the finest in the state, regardless of class. Based on Saturday's showing, it's possible the Falcons are on the brink of returning to glory.
At regionals, senior Lindsey Merrill was the top Freeport individual, placing second for scoring purposes on the 5-kilometer course in 22 minutes, 9.14 seconds. Sophomore Ellie Soule was right behind in third place (22:18.99). Senior Kiera Berkemeyer also finished in the top 10 (eighth, 22:30.92). Junior Lauren Easler (11th, 23:30.26) and freshman Lia Wellen (22nd, 26:12.29) rounded out the scorers. Junior Brianna Roy (30th, 27:24.20) also took part.
"We had a really good showing from Lindsey and Ellie who are normally
our 2 and 3 runners," said Falcons coach Brian Berkemeyer. "They went 1
and 2. Kiera's been injured. Lia's been great all year long. We only
have six girls and it takes all of them. States is anybody's race with us, Waynflete and NYA. It'll be west-dominated."
For NYA, sophomore Hillary Detert (fifth, 22:28.64), senior Maeve Stier (sixth, 22:28.67) and sophomore Maggie Meixell (seventh, 22:28.75) all had top 10 showings. Sophomore Sarah Jordan (12th, 24:07.20) and sophomore Morgan Scully (19th, 25:18.64) also scored. Sophomore Abbie McIvor (27th, 26:31.72) and senior Devin Gamble (31st, 28:35.77) also competed. McIvor was six spots behind Waynflete's Mica Thompson, accounting for the third place team finish.
"We had a phenomenal day," said Panthers coach Chris Mazzurco. "When the team sat down and worked out the possible scenarios, it looked like we had a very slight chance of pulling in close to second place with amazing performances and a bit of luck. We never thought we would end up in a tiebreaker for second and three points from first. Our top three runners bested their previous times on the course by between 30 seconds and a minute, 30 seconds and to have all three place top 10 side by side is priceless. That set a strong foundation for the rest of the team to build on. Once the stage was set, it was our numbers 4-7 that stepped up and followed their race plans and met their goals to help us drop significant points. We had some big movers in the middle of the pack and that made all the difference for the team.
"Our goal coming into the season was to train for the regional championship meet and try and make it back to the state championships after having narrowly missed it the past couple of years. It's hard to lose a tiebreaker in the regional championship, but to be a part of such a close race is a huge success."
Merriconeag-Waldorf featured three runners: Teagan Wu (22:33.87), Zoe Chace (22:42.91) and Emelie Chace (25:26.21).
On the boys' side, Freeport has also benefitted from a return to Class C. The Falcons placed in the top 10 at states every year from 2001 and 2006 and are in the hunt this fall as well.
Saturday, junior Griffin Day came in third individually (17:29.90). Senior Henry Loughlin was fourth (17:52.60). Senior Jake Kostik (ninth, 18:21.57), sophomore Taylor Saucier (25th, 19:19.51) and junior Max Jennings (27th, 19:21.91) also scored. Junior Bennett Wade (32nd, 19:33.61) and junior Spencer Egan (62nd, 21:47.98) took part as well.
"We knew we were strong going in," Berkemeyer said. "We thought Boothbay
was the team to beat. We matched up well. I have a really strong team
with Griffin and Henry up front. The rest of the pack runs well. Jake
has stepped up all year. The kids believe in themselves. Running against top B teams this year helped us. All along, we wanted to be state champions. States will be the same race as regionals. There's not much from the east. It'll be us, Merriconeag and Boothbay. It will be interesting to see how it pans out."
The Merriconeag-Waldorf program is young and small (only 35 kids in the whole school), but coach Tom Ryan has quickly established a contender. Freshman Jack Pierce made his presence felt Saturday, posting the fifth-best time (17:55.94). Classmate Juan Mesones came in eighth (18:19.28). Junior Phineas Samuelson (21st, 19:09.96), sophomore Tyler O'Brien (30th, 19:31.05) and junior Jacob Kolda (33rd, 19:35.08) rounded out the scorers. Sophomore Cyrus Fenderson (52nd, 20:55.09) and sophomore Wyatt McCurdy (71st, 23:01.92) also competed. Merriconeag-Waldorf now moves on to its first state meet.
NYA ended a two-year drought and returned to states behind a steady performance from a passel of talented sophomores: Cam Regan (11th, 18:24.32), Evan Kendall (14th, 18:52.16), Rudy Guiliani (24th, 19:13.37), Grant McPherson (34th, 19:36.30) and Brian Telegan (36th, 19:40.65). Junior Elliot Daniels (37th, 19:42.30) and senior Philip Champoux (47th, 20:36.41) also took part.
"I was very proud of the way the guys ran," said Panthers coach Peter Sillin. "Our main goal for the season was to break our two-year run of missing states. Five of our guys set (personal records) on Saturday and they did exactly what we set out to do. I have every confidence that the guys will continue to improve next week as well, but whatever happens there will just be icing on the cake."
Rangers rule again
Greely had no peer during the regular season and took another step toward a third straight state title Saturday with a dominant performance. The Rangers had five of the top 11 scorers. Senior Mark McCauley came in third (16:43.34). Junior Sam Johnston placed fifth (16:52.01). Senior Logan Price (sixth, 17:02.06), junior Sam Humphries (10th, 17:41.19) and junior Connor Regan (11th, 17:46.95) also scored. Sophomore Stefan Sandreuter (17th, 17:51.66) and sophomore Isaak Emery (28th, 18:20.97) would have scored for just about any other team.
"I'm very pleased,." said Greely coach David Dowling. "Mark came on strong in the last mile to show that he's almost back to 100 percent. Sam ran his personal best 5K. Logan hung on after a fast first mile. Connor ran his best time at Twin Brook and Stefan Sandreuter, a sophomore, finished 17th, with Isaak Emery, also a sophomore, at 28th.
"Headed into states, the team is just trying to stay healthy and focused. York, Falmouth and Cape are strong from the west with Caribou and Ellsworth the two top teams from the east."
Falmouth was able to leapfrog Cape Elizabeth, but is still in Greely's wake. The Yachtsmen's top finisher Saturday was sophomore Tim Follo (fourth, 16:48.26). Falmouth also got points from junior John Lake (18th, 17:52.01), sophomore Conor McGrory (21st, 17:56.61), senior Charlie Swerdlow (24th, 18:14.33) and sophomore Henry Briggs (25th, 18:16.23). Also running for the Yachtsmen were senior Eric Hemphill (26th, 18:17.29) and sophomore Thomas Edmonds (35th, 18:52.75).
"The boys were pleased to beat Cape for the first time in several years, but are looking for a stronger finish still at the state meet," said Falmouth co-coach Jorma Kurry. "We hope to pack our team together even tighter and a little higher next week to chase down the surprising York boys. Tim Follo and John Lake ran great races to lead the team. Conor and Charlie were steady as always and Henry Briggs really stepped up as our fifth man, running the best race of his career. Overall, a solid performance, but the boys know there is more there and will look to hit their peak next Saturday."
Yarmouth was able to qualify for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five seasons. The Clippers were led by juniors Ben Nickerson (14th, 17:48.78) and Ben Woodbury (16th, 17:49.80). Senior Sam Woodbury (29th, 18:22.18), senior Tim Wright (36th, 18:57.14) and junior Andrew George (37th, 18:57.64) also scored. Senior Samuel Peterson (42nd, 19:17.75) and senior Lucas Hamilton (62nd, 20:33.18) were Yarmouth's other runners.
"I'm very very happy," said Clippers coach Bob Morse. "We have had a number of injuries and only ran 80 percent at regionals. Ben Nickerson has been bothered with lower leg issues, Andrew George (knees) Tim Wright (calves), Sam Peterson (ankle) and we were not able to run Cam Woodworth (stress reaction on his right leg). Sam and Ben Woodbury ran healthy. I'm going to graduate 50 percent of my team this season. So, for the seniors going to states is a great great victory."
In the girls' race, Falmouth was paced by freshman Meg Palombo, who was 19th (22:09.46). Junior Maggie Parrish (22nd, 22:27.04), senior Erin Morris (23rd, 22:29.18), freshman Abby Payson (27th, 22:31.59) and sophomore Emily Rand (33rd, 22:56.52) also scored for the Yachtsmen, who also featured senior Francesca D'Alfonso (39th, 22:11.08) and sophomore Jena Mannette (40th, 23:12.12).
"Although not 100 percent, our girls are healthier than they have been all season," said Falmouth co-coach Danny Paul. "With everyone available, we should run well at states. Our younger girls have a better sense of the Twin Brook course now."
"Meg Palombo ran an outstanding race for us," Kurry added. "Maggie Parrish and Erin Morris both struggled early in the race, but ran a strong second half to make a big difference for the team. Abby Payson ran a strong race under difficult conditions as well and is capable of even more next week. The girls ran a gutty race this week and will look to take another step forward next week."
Greely has now qualified for states in 30 of the past 31 years. Saturday, the Rangers were led by sophomore Melissa Jacques (18th, 21:58.03). Junior Julia Isaacson (28th, 22:34.28), junior Emily Christensen (30th, 22:44.30), senior Marissa Goding (31st, 22:46.21) and sophomore Sarah Ezzio (42nd, 23:20.20) also scored. Junior Meaghan Crowley (47th, 23:40.18) and senior Addie Halligan (49th, 23:57.69) also took part.
"I was also very pleased with the girls' results," said Dowling. "With six of seven girls running their first regional meet and this being a very strong conference, making states has been the goal all year. Taking sixth place to earn a spot shows the determination of the girls."
Yarmouth fell just short for a second straight year, but junior Chloe Sarapas qualified as an individual with a 13th-place performance (21:40.73). The Clippers also got points from freshmen Emma Pidden (35th, 23:06.28), Joss Richards-Daniels (41st, 23:18.07), Sydney Sperber (43rd, 23:28.16) and Caroline MacLeod (55th, 24:29.59). Senior Samantha Post (57th, 25:18.23) and junior Anne Ryan (58th, 25:54.72) also competed.
"Chloe had her best race of the season, wow!" said Morse. "Even thought the girls came in seventh, again, she reached her personal goal of qualifying for states. Now, she will bring that experience back to a very, very young group of Yarmouth girls who will be working hard to qualify for states as a team next year."
State meet time
This Saturday, back at Twin Brook, the state championship races will be held.
The Class A races start the day at 11 a.m. (girls) and 11:45 a.m. (boys). Falmouth and Greely run in the Class B girls' meet at 12:30 p.m. The Class B boys run at 1:15 p.m.
Freeport and NYA 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.
"It should be an interesting race," Sillin said. "Freeport has to be considered the heavy favorite, having moved down this year from Class B. They've been dominant all season long. Merriconeag deserves a lot of credit for putting together such a strong program in so short a period of time and Boothbay is last year's runner-up, so they have a lot of experience. We have such a young team that I think if we're in the mix somewhere in there, I'll consider that a great day for us."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com