BELFAST – The Ellsworth boys cross country team has a unique tradition after winning a big-time meet: Heading back onto the course for a mud run.
On Saturday, the Eagles did two mud runs.
First, they took to a muddy Troy Howard Middle School course in search of an Eastern Maine Class B title.
After the race, even senior Corey DeWitt thought rival Caribou had overtaken Ellsworth for the EM crown.
“I didn’t believe it. I thought we had lost,” said DeWitt.
Once the final results were posted, DeWitt led the Eagles over to the building were they were posted, and after jumping for joy, they embarked on their second mud run of the day.
“That’s what we do, it’s a team bonding experience, we do a mud run every year,” said junior Logan Will.
The Eagles, led by DeWitt’s victorious 16-minute, 46.96-second run over 3.1 miles, upended the Vikings by a 40 to 47 margin to win the Class B title.
Waterville was third with 89 points, Leavitt of Turner fourth with 105, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro fifth with 126, Belfast sixth with 173, and Mount Desert Island 178 to round out the state-meet qualifiers.
The Edward Little of Auburn boys captured the Class A title and Foxcroft Academy collected the Class C crown.
In Class B, DeWitt avenged last week’s individual loss to Sam Sheehan of Caribou, taking over the race after the first mile and cruising from there.
“I really opened it up right after the mile, and the last half-mile I kind of coasted in,” he said.
DeWitt’s Eagles have traditionally started slowly, losing some early-season meets to the Vikes before peaking for the regional and state meets.
“We always start out a little slow at the Ellsworth Invitational, and Caribou usually gives us somewhat of a beating,” DeWitt said. “But we work our way back into it and by the end of the year we’re always in contention and it’s always a good matchup between us and those guys.
“They work hard, so you’ve got to give them all the credit in the world.”
Third and fourth runners Alec Phippen and Ben Chapman proved to be the difference for the Eagles, finishing sixth and eighth to back up DeWitt and Will’s 1-3 punch.
“I think the most important part was our 3-4-5 guys; they’re really the ones that gave it to us,” Will said.
Fifth runner Dakota Hellum, a freshman, finished 22nd while Ryan Petros and Charles Silsby were 43rd and 44th, respectively.
Also gaining top-five finishes were Leavitt’s Justin Fereshetian (fourth, 17:37.76) and Caribou’s Spencer McElwain (fifth, 17:58.29).
In Class A, Bangor senior Casey Quaglia received a crash course in how muddy and mucky cross country can truly be, particularly in a large six-inch-deep puddle just prior to the course’s wooded section near the halfway point.
“It was just horrible, it was six inches deep and you can’t get your foot out,” he said. “It was definitely a sloppy race.”
In his first tour of the Belfast loop, Quaglia finished in 16:49.60, taking first-place honors, while junior teammate Riley Masters continued his strong season, finishing second in 16:57.10.
That 1-2 punch led the Rams to a solid fifth-place finish and a state-meet berth.
“We’ve been helping each other all year. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without each other,” Quaglia said.
Edward Little of Auburn nipped rival Lewiston 69 points to 86. Brunswick was third with 100, Mt. Blue of Farmington fourth (104), Morse of Bath sixth (120), and Brewer rounded out the state-meet berths with 152.
The Witches were paced by junior Travis Blackmer, who finished fifth, while freshman Evan Taylor was 17th.
Edward Little’s top three runners – Matt Driscoll, Tom Esponette, and Nick Kazar – finished 7-8-12 to pace the Red Eddies.
In Class C, Foxcroft Academy tucked four runners in the top 12 and all five in the top 30 to overcome a valiant effort by defending regional champ Orono.
The Ponies scored 44 points to the Riots’ 56. Following in third was Sumner of East Sullivan’s 125. Washington Academy of East Machias was fourth with 133, Calais fifth with 138, and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (157) earned the other state-meet berths.
Foxcroft coach George Rolleston’s main goal was to have a pack time – the difference between the first and fifth runners – under two minutes.
FA’s pack time Saturday was exactly two minutes.
“We’ve really been working hard at trying to get a pack time under two minutes,” Rolleston said.
Graham Pearsall and Jerod Hayes finished 4-5 for FA while Martin Flagg was ninth, Isaac Almy 12th and Chris Bridges 28th.
Before the race, Rolleston told his troops to worry about place as opposed to time.
“I just told the boys, you can’t worry about time, you’re here to race and you know what your goal is,” he said.
George Stevens of Blue Hill’s Addison Pellerano took first in 17:37.09 while Central of Corinth’s Anthony Wilson followed in second (17:44.14). GSA and Central each had fewer than five runners and didn’t compile a team score.
Orono’s Matthieu Nadeau (third, 18:03.42) and Brandon Paul (sixth, 18:39.56) also turned in strong races.