All six local cross country teams made the cut at Saturday’s regional championships at Twin Brook in Cumberland and now will look to steal state meet glory Saturday in Belfast.
Scarborough’s boys took top honors in Western A for the first time since 2006. A year ago, a jewelry-related disqualification left the Red Storm third, but this time around, with four runners in the top 10, they had no peer, finishing with 38 points, 52 better than runner-up Massabesic. South Portland finished eighth with 207 points and was the final team to make the cut.
Nick Morris won the 5-kilometer race in 16 minutes, 59.30 seconds. Tom Hague was third (17:09.50), Zach Brown seventh (17:21.30) and Robby Hall 10th (17:25.60). Wout Moulin (17th, 18:00.40) was the other scorer.
If Scarborough produces anywhere near that type of performance this Saturday, it will win Class A for the fifth time in seven years.
After a five-year absence, South Portland qualified in 2009 and made it two in a row Saturday. Matt Clement led the way with a 16th-place finish (17:55.90). Austin Gotts (37th, 18:36.40), Max Knutsen (42nd, 18:47.01), Tom Redstone (55th, 18:56.10) and Robert Graff (57th, 18:59.50) also scored.
“Honestly, I was blown away with the boys’ performance on Saturday,” said Red Riots coach Andrew Lupien. “We have had a lot of issues with injury and illness this season and I really didn’t think we would be able to advance to the state meet, but each of the boys ran out of their shoes and we did just enough to advance. We were led by Matt, but the real reason for our advancement was our incredible pack. Our No. 2 through 6 runners were separated by only 24 seconds and this tight finish secured our place in the state meet.
“This Saturday is a reward for four months of hard work. Our only goal is to run to the best of our ability and to have fun. None of our runners have ever competed at Belfast, so it’s going to be an new experience for each of them. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”
In the Western A race, won by defending state champion Cheverus with 31 points, South Portland placed sixth (176) and Scarborough got the eighth and final spot with 187 points.
The Red Riots were led, as usual, by sophomore Nyajock Pan, who came in 13th (20:54.14). Annelise Donahue (23rd, 21:21.29), Angela Tirabassi (35th, 22:39.71), Bridget Mulligan (49th, 23:14.60) and Jackie Merrill (56th, 23:46.60) also scored.
“We did what we needed to do in order to get the team to the state meet,” said South Portland coach Karen Reardon. “We had solid races from Nyajock, Annelise and Angela. Angela has been improving all season and had a nice race for us at the regional. Nyajock and Annelise ran well for the team, Annelise was very consistent throughout the race but both she and Nyajock have a little more to show, I think. Bridget ran again after being out since Oct. 8th. She is coming around and will hopefully be even more ready this week. Jackie gave the team a nice effort and is healthier and stronger than she was a year ago heading into the state meet. Maria Letourneau did not have one of her better races last week, but I expect Maria to be much more ready to race this week. All in all, the day turned out pretty well.”
South Portland looks to match or improve upon its seventh-place showing from the 2009 state meet.
“We have a team going to the state meet again, which is one of our goals each year,” said Reardon. “We will be looking to improve upon our races from last week and work better together as a team. We have some pretty challenging competition that we face each week around here in the SMAA and this year our schedule has put us on some pretty challenging courses throughout the season. I think we will be ready for what Belfast has to offer and ready to deal with the teams from the East. We need to focus on what we can do and control, the rest of it will all fall in to place. We will be trying to catch up with the schools that were ahead of us and look to compete well and finish in the top half of the teams competing. For Annelise and Maria, this is their senior season, so I think they will be putting a good effort out there for their senior finale. We ran in the cold and wind last week, so if it is cold again this week, we should be more prepared. I’m looking forward to seeing what the girls can do and how the team stacks up against everyone else in Class A.”
Scarborough was paced by Sarah Dugas (15th, 21:00.26). Other scorers included Marisa O’Toole (29th, 22:19.32), Abby Chick (42nd, 22:59.14), Emily O’Connor (47th, 23:08.49) and Andrea Tolman (54th, 23:43.20).
“Our main goal was to qualify,” said longtime Red Storm coach Ron Kelly. “If we can put together a solid performance by my top five, we could be in the top eight (at states).”
Cape Elizabeth, again
In Western B, the three-time defending state champion Cape Elizabeth girls once again had no peer, rolling to victory with 56 points, 33 better than runner-up Yarmouth.
Kelsey Barton came in sixth (20:39.20), Rachel Nichols seventh (20:41.50), Catherine Tierney ninth (21:13.80), Emma Inhorn 12th (21:17.30) and Emily Lobosco 22nd (22:23).
“The girls got the job done and ran well as a team,” said Capers coach Mary Ann Doss. “A great team effort as a whole.”
Cape Elizabeth is the favorite Saturday as it goes for four in a row and five in six seasons.
“We are definitely in contention this coming weekend,” said Doss. “It would be so exciting for the girls to bring home a fourth consecutive state crown.”
Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ squad had 71 points and was a narrow second to three-time defending state champion Greely (68).
The Capers were led by Thomas Bottomley (fourth, 17:22.40) and Reid Douty (fifth, 17:24.16). Leo Ledman (10th, 17:41.82) also made the top 10. Peter Doane (21st, 18:08.48) and Paul Trantina (31st, 18:32.46) also scored.
“We had a strong day,” said first-year coach Derek Veilleux. “Falmouth was the favorite heading into the meet. Our goal was the cut the gap and make it to the state meet. We accomplished both of those goals. Everybody 1 through 5 ran a personal best on the Twin Brook course. We had a 1:10 split, which was our closest of the season, and had three runners in the top 10. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance. Greely surprised everyone, which should have been no surprise as they always run well at the end of the year and now are the favorites heading into the state meet.”
Cape Elizabeth will be right in the hunt Saturday, along with Greely, Falmouth and possibly Eastern B champ Caribou.
“I feel we have more left in us for this weekend, we haven’t raced much, so our legs are fresh,” said Veilleux. “The mindset of the team is positive, we’re right where we wanted to be when we began the season with a shot to win it all. Last weekend was a huge confidence booster for us. We know we can run with anyone now. It’s going to be a real close meet with four or five teams with a legitimate shot to win. Every second and place is going to matter.”
Cape Elizabeth’s boys start the festivities at Belfast at 11 a.m. The Class B girls begin at 11:45 a.m. Scarborough and South Portland’s boys run at 2 p.m. The Class A girls’ race is at 2:45 p.m.
The New England championships are Saturday, Nov. 13.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cape Elizabeth’s Kelsey Barton and Rachel Nichols lead the pack early in Saturday’s Western Class B regional championship cross country meet. Barton was sixth and Nichols seventh as the Capers won the team title.
Scarborough’s Tom Hague nears the finish line en route to a third-place finish in the boys’ Class A meet. The Red Storm won the team title with four runners in the top 10.