ORONO – Saturday’s strong winds gave the America East Cross Country Championships at the University of Maine a winter feeling in a Halloween setting.
The powerful wind and cold rain made a 45-degree day feel like 30 degrees, while blowing leaves and swirling branches made the race courses more appropriate for a setting in a Stephen King novel rather than on a college campus.
While UMaine senior Kirby Davis cruised to an individual win in the men’s race, covering the 8-kilometer course in 24 minutes, 32.40 seconds, it was not enough to overcome the efforts of the University of New Hampshire.
The Wildcats withstood a 3-6-8 finish from Stony Brook University (N.Y.) while placing all five of its scorers in the top 20 to win with 58 points. The Seawolves finished second with 61 while Maine was third with 62. Boston University (70) and Vermont (154) rounded out the top five.
The Terriers cruised to a 47-point victory in the women’s competition while UNH was second with 77. Stony Brook was third with 89, Vermont fourth with 110, Binghamton fifth with 134 and Maine sixth with 140.
In the men’s race, Falmouth’s Davis used a weapon he didn’t even know he had to capture his second straight AE individual title: his finishing kick.
“My kick’s pretty bad, I’ll be honest,” Davis said after outkicking Jordan Horwitz of New Hampshire. “I thought he [Horwitz] was going to get it. I did not think I was going to win that race.”
Horwitz and Davis were stride for stride in the last mile and a half, and Davis thought it was Horwitz’s race with less than a mile left.
“He had me with about three quarters of a mile left, he made a good pass on me,” Davis said. “I thought he put me away at that point.”
Davis was hoping to add a team title to his individual honor, but was not disappointed with the Bears’ third-place performance.
“I think overall our team can’t be ashamed at all about how we raced,” he said. “Everybody on the team came and raced hard, and they competed and that’s what’s important.”
New Hampshire coach Jim Boulanger said the key was the Wildcats getting their top three runners ahead of Maine’s No. 3, Donny Drake.
“Our kids got ahead of him on a straightaway,” he said. “We expected Maine to be real strong up front, which they were with Kirby and [Josh] Trevino.”
Matthew Russell and Ben Jenkins finished 11-12 for the Wildcats and David Nayes and Ben Danton 16-17.
Danton picked off three runners on the homestretch, which proved to be the difference in the meet.
“Our fifth young man Ben Danton picked up three spots on the straightaway,” Boulanger said.
Trevino finished fifth for Maine while Drake was 13th. Miles Bartlett was 18th, Jon McGonagle 25th and David Manz 37th.
In the women’s race, Boston University showed why it was the heavy favorite coming in, tucking all nine of its runners in the top 22 and all five scorers in the top 16.
Marisa Ryan finished second for the Terriers, while Abbey Sadowski (5th), Claire Robson (9th), Erin Lagasse and Jennifer Malenovsky (15-16) rounded out the BU scorers.
New Hampshire’s Catherine Parker cruised to the individual win in 16:50.30 over 5,000 meters.
BU coach Bruce Lehane’s mindset is always to run hard not matter what the situation.
“What we tell them is it’s going to be a hard race, it’s a team effort, and everybody goes hard no matter what,” he said. “If you’re having a good day you go for it, if you’re having a bad day you keep fighting and we’ll win and lose as a team.
UMaine freshman Jessica Belliveau of Canada led the Black Bears’ effort with a strong 14th-place finish while Elonnai Hickok was 24th.
Hana Pelletier took 32nd, Shelby Howe 37th, Jolene Belanger 41st, Brenna Walsh 44th and Laura Brustolon 45th for the Bears.