BELFAST – The Mount Desert Island girls cross county team is peaking at just the right time.
Having held the top ranking in the Maine coaches’ poll the last three weeks, the Trojans have been blazing a green and white trail past their opponents. They did so again Saturday when they captured the Eastern Maine Class B title at Troy Howard Middle School.
MDI totaled 58 points while John Bapst of Bangor and Waterville each followed with 76 points, but Bapst was awarded second by virtue of its sixth runner finishing ahead of Waterville’s sixth.
Old Town was fourth with 118 points, Belfast fifth with 128, Presque Isle sixth with 167, and Caribou tallied 185 to round out teams advancing to Saturday’s state championships at Leavitt High in Turner.
Heavily favored Brunswick cruised to victory in Class A and Mattanawcook of Lincoln dominated in Class C.
In Class B, coach Kate Goupee’s MDI Trojans relied on their team resiliency once again.
Sophomore Heather Spurling ran to a solid third place while Jessica Swanson, a freshman, took ninth. Seniors Sue Falt and Liela Banks were 12th and 13th, respectively, and freshman MacKenzie Curtis was 21st to round out the scoring.
According to senior Amanda Ohmeis, who finished 27th, MDI was looking to gang up on the frontrunners of John Bapst and Waterville.
“We had our top runners like Jessica splitting them up, then the rest of us were supposed to cram in between their [Nos.] 3 and 4 [runners],” she said.
Ohmeis added MDI is hitting its stride at exactly the right time.
“We’re all trying to peak and we’re tapering, and we’re going to be right there [at states],” she said.
The Trojans are looking forward to their rematch with Cape Elizabeth, which they beat in the Festival of Champions Invitational earlier this fall.
“We’re really looking at Cape Elizabeth; that’s what our main focus is,” Ohmeis said.
Old Town junior Hilary Maxim led wire-to-wire for the individual win, touring the messy 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 32.41 seconds. Belfast’s Megan Nealey finished second (20:24.75) and was followed by Spurling (20:28.73), Waterville’s Cynthia Hunter (20:35.37), and Caribou’s Hannah Saunders (20:43.33).
In Class A, Brunswick cruised to victory with 27 points while Mount Ararat of Topsham was second with 71.
The three PVC schools in the field did not disappoint: Molly Peverada of Hampden Academy cruised to the individual win in 20:11.96, leading the Broncos to a third-place finish with 95 points. Brewer earned its first state-meet berth in six years, finishing fourth with 108. Cony of Augusta was fifth with 122 and Bangor finished sixth with 178 to round out the state qualifiers.
The young Witches, who hadn’t qualified for state meet as a team since 2000, worked together in the last half of the race to pick off opponents.
“That helps in a race like this, to have a teammate to work up with in the last half of the race,” said Brewer coach Glendon Rand. “They did a really nice job of that, taking turns leading and passing people, that really made the difference for us.”
Frontrunner Katie Snow earned a top-10 finish for the Witches, finishing ninth. Caitlyn Wilson and Ashley Geiser were 21st and 22nd, Brooke Madden 27th, and Kaitlin Noyes 33rd to round out Brewer’s scoring.
All five of those runners are sophomores while Brewer’s 6-7 runners, Whitney Gould and Katie Butler, are juniors.
“We’ve got a young team, and I think the future is ahead of us,” Rand said. “Certainly qualifying for state meet this year is really important so we can get that experience for the next few years.”
Hampden was bolstered by top-20 finishes by Lacey Littlefield (14th) and Kimble Rawcliffe (20th) while Bangor frontrunner Joyce Belanger, a freshman, finished 19th.
In Class C, the Mattanawcook Academy Lynx got a strong 1-2-5-6 effort from junior Renee LaFlamme and sophomores Casey McCloskey, Hannah Ruhl and Jana Larlee and a solid 37th from freshman Taylor Gordon to pull away from contending Lee Academy.
MA scored 37 points to Lee’s 76, while Fort Kent was third with 77 and Orono fourth with 89. All four qualified for the state meet.
After winning a PVC title last week, coach Bernice Stockley’s Lynx wanted another trophy to bring back to Lincoln.
“They’ve been working hard all season. Winning this was a good goal,” she said. “Winning [the] PVC Small School [title] last week really got them inspired today.”
LaFlamme toured the course in 20:38.1 while McCloskey was right behind in 20:42.40.
“They help each other and push each other to get better and better,” Stockley said.
Stockley had high praise for her freshman No. 5 runner, Gordon.
“She’s improved throughout the whole season. She’s getting stronger,” Stockley said.
Hannah Breton of Greenville finished third while Cathalina Johnston from Bucksport was seventh.