CUMBERLAND – Hilary Maxim certainly picked a good day to have her strongest race of the season.
The Old Town senior cross country standout came into Saturday’s New England Championships at Twin Brook Recreation Center with a goal of crossing the finish line ahead of all her fellow Pine Tree State competitors.
Maxim accomplished her mission, churning and surging her way through the wind-whipped 3.1-mile course to a 15th-place finish in 19 minutes, 21.2 seconds.
“I wanted to be the first Maine girl. I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Maxim, who finished six places and six seconds ahead of Massabesic of Waterboro senior Katherine Pierce, who was 21st in 19:27.6.
Waynflete of Portland’s Adel Espy also earned All-New England honors with a 23rd-place effort and a 19:28.5 clocking.
The top 25 finishers in each race make up the All-New England team.
Mount Desert Island junior Heather Spurling finished 43rd in 19:48.5 while Caribou junior Hannah Saunders took 62nd (20:15.7), Magen Ellis of Hall-Dale in Farmingdale 72nd (20:23.6) and John Bapst of Bangor’s Kim Spencer 151st (21:15.4).
Coming into the race, Maxim knew that Yarmouth’s Anna Makaretz, Pierce and Espy would be her main competitors.
“I thought Anna would be right up there, and [Pierce],” Maxim said.
As it turned out, Maxim held on to her sizeable cushion on Pierce in the late miles, and didn’t succumb to Twin Brook’s tenacious hills.
“I really liked the course, it just felt really good,” Maxim said. “There’s just two hills.”
Maxim closed out the first chapter of her senior year the exact way she dreamed it.
“It’s a perfect way to end it. I’m so happy,” she said. “This is definitely the cherry on top.”
Makaretz finished 31st in 19:33.2 while Cape Elizabeth’s Emily Atwood was right behind in 32nd (19:34.0).
Hanover, N.H. dominated the team competition.
Led by Stanford University-bound individual champ Georgia Griffin, Hanover tucked all five scoring runners in the top 15 and compiled an astonishing 43 points. Runner-up Glastonbury, Conn., was a distant second with 175.
Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth was the top Maine finisher with 314 points, good for eighth place. Falmouth was 21st, Class A champ Brunswick 25th, Freeport 27th, Class C winner Waynflete 28th and York 30th out of 30 scoring teams.
Hanover, the nation’s 21st-ranked team and the defending meet champ, was the heavy favorite, but coach Jim Eakin didn’t think the margin of victory would be 132 points.
“No, because I know what can happen out here,” Eakin said.
Griffin, who toured the challenging Twin Brook course in 18:06.5, concurred.
“I try not to expect anything so I didn’t think about how [many points we scored],” said Griffin. “We knew we were dominant. We just wanted to have a nice finish.”
As happy as Griffin was with individual honors, the team championship was the icing on the cake.
“Oh my god, the team title [means] way more,” said Griffin. “I don’t even think about the individual title.”
On the boys side, Falmouth senior Ethan Shaw was Maine’s top finisher, placing 24th in 16:33.3. Poland senior Nick Williams earned 30th.
“I felt OK, I don’t think I did great,” Shaw said. “The course wasn’t bad, it was definitely a lot harder than I expected.”
Shaw normally goes out fairly conservative and gets stronger as the race goes on, but he had to start harder than he’s accustomed to avoid getting boxed in.
“The start was hard because you have to get out really hard, I usually like to go slower,” Shaw said. “To get up in front of everyone and not get closed into a big group was pretty tough.”
Class A state champ Lewiston was the top Maine team in 18th place.
The Blue Devils’ afternoon was marred by a spectator who allegedly threw sand into Noor’s eyes.
Noor, who led the race through the first mile, finished 124th and spent about an hour recovering in an ambulance following the race.
Danbury, the nation’s No. 4 ranked team, showed why it had earned the nation’s top ranking earlier this fall, placing all seven runners in the top 30 and overwhelmed the runners-up from East Greenwich, R.I., 43 points to 148.
Ellsworth captured 24th while Class B champ Greely of Cumberland Center finished 26th, Caribou 27th, Class C winner Winthrop 29th and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro 30th.
Mt. Blue of Farmington senior Eric Marceau was Eastern Maine’s top finisher in 72nd place, while Caribou’s Spencer McElwain led the Vikes with an 84th-place finish.
Logan Will paced Ellsworth in 95th and Riley Masters of Bangor notched 145th.
The 1-2 punch of Matt Terry and Willie Ahearn, who finished 4-5, led the way for an incredibly talented Danbury team. Joseph Bubniak took 13th.
Glastonbury senior Donald Cabral ran to individual honors in 15:32.4.
NEW ENGLAND MEET
At Cumberland, 5K
Team winner: Hanover, N.H., 43 points; top Maine finish: Cape Elizabeth 314
Individual winner: Georgia Griffin (Hanover) 18:06.5; top Maine finisher: Hilary Maxim (Old Town) 19:21.2
Team winner: Danbury, Conn., 43 points; top Maine finish: Lewiston 460; individual winner: Donald Cabral (Glastonbury, Conn.) 15:32.4; top Maine finisher: Ethan Shaw (Falmouth) 16:33.3