Lisbon’s David Schlotterbeck leads a line of runners through the woods during the Class C boys’ state chamionship race Saturday at Troy A. Howard Middle School. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)
BELFAST — When organizers decided, in light of an ominous forecast, to hold the cross country state championship earlier Saturday than originally scheduled rather than gamble on better weather by postponing until next weekend, they did so knowing that Class C might be affected by the leading edge of the storm.
Sure enough, cold rain began spitting on the assembled runners shortly before the starting pistol sent the Class C girls across a muddy field adjacent to Troy Howard Middle School for the sixth and final race of the day.
“It was really difficult,” said Olivia Reynolds, a sophomore at Maine Coast Waldorf of Freeport. “With the weather and the rain and it just being so cold, everyone’s mentality was just not as positive going into it. But you have to make the most of it.”
Reynolds, whose solution was to “wear layers,” won her second straight state title, finally shaking free of two dogged pursuers and crossing the line in 19 minutes, 5.87 seconds. Maranacook junior Molly McGrail was 10 seconds back, and Orono sophomore Erin Gerbi was another two seconds behind in third, a minute ahead of the rest of the field of 81.
Defending champion Orono won girls’ team honors for the fifth time in six years, scoring 41 points to beat Maranacook by 25 points and Maine Coast Waldorf by 40.
Waynflete senior Henry Spritz also successfully defended his individual title, by a comfortable 15 seconds over St. Dominic junior Mark D’Alessandro in 17:03.87.
“By no means was it an easy race,” Spritz said. “There were some strong competitors out there today. I really had to push myself.”
Lisbon’s David Schlotterbeck placed sixth in the boys’ race, St. Dom’s Liam Levasseur came in 14th, Dirigo’s Blaine Wilkins took 17th and Monmouth’s Joe Crocker was 20th.
The highest area finisher of the girls’ Class C race was Kaitlyn Hunt of Monmouth, who placed eighth.
Maine Coast Waldorf’s boys ended Orono’s two-year reign with a 16-point victory, 72-88. Maranacook was third, another 17 points back.
At the South regionals, Reynolds held a 1-minute cushion on McGrail. Saturday’s race proved more challenging, with both McGrail and Gerbi staying on her heels.
“I wasn’t looking back, but based off people cheering and these names being thrown around, I could tell there was quite a pack with me,” Reynolds said. “There was a lot of back and forth and people coming out on either side. I would surge, but they totally stayed with me until the last, maybe, 400.”
Spritz was able to maintain a gap throughout the race, but never got too comfortable.
“I’m glad they moved the race up a couple hours, because it would have been ugly,” he said. “It was already muddy enough. If there had been rain, it would have been really brutal.”
Sophomore Matinicus Neveu (eighth) and junior Aiden Kusche (ninth) led a Maine Coast Waldorf quintet that included junior Max Waldron (18th), senior Finn Dierks-Brown (23rd) and freshman John Miles Muentener (38th). The state title is the school’s second, having also won in 2014 while known as Merriconeag.
“It was a little close last week,” Maine Coast Waldorf coach Morgan Lake-Adams said of a 14-point victory in the South regional. “We had a long conversation about how everyone needed to buckle down and perform better this week, and they did. They all really challenged themselves, and we saw a lot of improvement out of every one of them.”
Waynflete’s Henry Spritz, the eventual winner of the Class C boys’ state cross country championship, maintains a sizable lead into the final half-mile of the course at Troy A. Howard Middle School in Belfast on Saturday. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Maine Coast Waldorf’s Olivia Reynolds, right, the eventual winner of the Class C girls’ state cross country championship, maintains a tight lead into the backstretch at Troy A. Howard Middle School on Saturday. (Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)