BANGOR – The championship-season mix of muck and mire, hill and dale, and wind and chill greeted runners in Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference championships.
The Mount Desert Island girls and Ellsworth boys prevailed with strong victories at the Saxl Park course.
The red-hot Trojans, riding momentum from a strong second-place effort at the Maine Festival of Champions two weeks ago, rolled to a 59-point first-place finish. Host John Bapst finished second with 95, Old Town third with 97, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln fourth with 108, and Hampden Academy rounded out the top five with 121.
Now here’s where things get tricky.
The Lynx took home a trophy as well for placing first among the small school (Class C) girls teams. When figuring the score of this meet, the small schools are scored separately in their own competition, although they are running in the same race as the large schools.
Thus, when it was all figured out, MA had 28 points within Class C competition and rival Lee Academy was second with 55. Orono was third with 65 and Foxcroft fourth out of four scoring teams with 67.
Hilary Maxim of Old Town cruised to the individual win in 19 minutes, 11 seconds over 3 miles. Molly Peverada of Hampden was second in 19:29, Renee LaFlamme of MA third (19:53), Hannah Saunders of Caribou fourth (20:13), and Eliza Tibbits of Old Town fifth (20:19).
Riding on the strength of their pack time, the Ellsworth boys scored 49 points to win the boys crown. Defending champ Caribou was second with 57, Bangor was third with 83, Brewer fourth with 122, and Foxcroft Academy fifth with 124.
The Ponies won the small school competition with 25 points. Orono was second with 49, followed by Mattanawcook (69) and Lee (89).
In the girls meet, coach Kate Goupee’s Trojans are peaking at just the right time, and their pack time (the difference between the first and fifth runner) proves that.
Fifth runner Mackenzie Curtis (17th place) finished 47 seconds behind Jessica Swanson, who came in seventh.
Sophomore Heather Spurling, who has been MDI’s frontrunner most of this year, battled to a 10th-place finish, fighting cramps down the homestretch.
“She definitely had such a big heart in this race,” said senior Liela Banks, who was the Trojans’ third runner, finishing 12th. “Even though it hurt that bad, that just shows us how we need to keep pushing for the team no matter what.”
Curtis, a freshman, was determined that she was going to give her all for the team.
“I think that I came in and I thought I just had to keep pushing myself,” she said.
Banks knows MDI will have a target on its back at the EM regionals next weekend and that they can’t gun for one opponent.
“You can’t just aim for one team, you just try to do your best no matter what,” she said.
She added that the team’s goals are fairly simple.
“The goals are just to keep doing what we’re doing, going to the well and doing our best and making sure that’s good enough,” Banks said.
Fellow senior Sue Falt took 13th, freshman Lily Maderia 20th, and senior Amanda Ohmeis 33rd to round out MDI’s lineup.
The boys meet had its share of excitement: A birthday boy setting a course record and a dogfight between two longtime rivals.
Sam Sheehan of Caribou sloshed through the slop in 16:04 on his 17th birthday, earning his first individual win over Ellsworth’s Corey DeWitt this fall.
Sheehan even asked DeWitt for a late birthday present.
“I asked Corey if he’d let me win today because it with my birthday,” Sheehan said laughing. “Everyone on the starting line sang me happy birthday so that was nice.”
Sheehan and DeWitt went back and forth throughout the race, before Sheehan took over with a mile to go.
“It was nice that Corey and I were able to go back and forth a lot and not have one of us just sit on the other one,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan’s efforts weren’t enough to earn the Vikings their second straight team title as Ellsworth’s pack was too strong.
The rivalry between the Eagles and Vikings has been close over the years, and Saturday’s race was no different.
DeWitt and Logan Will finished 3-5 for the Eagles, but coach Andy Beardsley’s fifth runner, Dakota Hellum, proved to be the difference.
“Our number five guy, Dakota Hellum, really stepped it up this week. He had a really good race,” Beardlsey said.
Ben Chapman and Alec Phippen finished 12-13 for the Eagles while Charles Silsby was 58th and Ryan Petros 61st to round out Ellsworth’s lineup.
Beardsley knows more close battles with Caribou are looming.
“The last couple years it has been real close between us and them. Last year [in PVCs] it was three points,” he said. “They’re always tough, they come ready to run.”
Casey Quaglia and Riley Masters finished second and fourth, respectively, to lead Bangor while Travis Blackmer’s sixth place and Evan Taylor’s eighth paced Brewer.