Cross country South regionals: Area girls qualify for state meet

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Runners head up the hill after leaving the starting line during the Class A girls’ regional cross country championship Saturday in Cumberland, Maine. (Joel Page/Portland Press Herald)

CUMBERLAND — The most notorious aspect of the hill-filled cross country course at Twin Brook Recreation Area is known as the Pain Cave.

It’s a short but steep climb that comes late in the final mile, and that, ironically, is where Bonny Eagle senior Kayla Raymond felt refreshed. She surged past three runners and went on to join a pair of teammates in the final stretch to help the Scots win the Class A South championship on a blustery Saturday afternoon.

“This is a big win for us because we know Falmouth’s a really good competitor,” Raymond said. “We were nervous going into this race.”

Raymond finished two seconds behind classmate Ami Beaumier and a fraction ahead of freshman Delaney Hesler to give Bonny Eagle a 6-7-8 trio ahead of two more freshmen, Emmaline Pendleton (12th) and Hannah Stevens (14th), in a race that included 125 girls.

The Scots wound up with 47 points to 79 for runner-up Falmouth, led by individual champion Sofie Matson, whose time of 19 minutes, 22.73 seconds was fastest of the day’s three girls’ races. Cheverus was a distant third with 140 points.

York emerged as a surprise winner in Class B, and Maranacook edged Maine Coast Waldorf in Class C.

Teams finishing in the top half of their races and the top 30 individuals from each class qualified for the state championships next Saturday in Belfast.

Poland’s Olivia Ouellette will compete at the Class B girls’ state race after finishing 12th Saturday. Oak Hill’s Haley Gunn (18th), Gray-New Gloucester’s Abby Dulac (20th), Poland’s Mia Turkington (21st) and Gray-NG’s Erica Schlichting (29th) also will compete.

Monmouth’s Kaitlyn Hunt ran to a 15th-place finish in the girls’ Class C race Saturday. Also going to the state championships are Monmouth’s Amber Currie (19th), St. Dom’s Sarah Brown (20th) and Emily Gerencer (23rd), and Monmouth’s Lydia Roy (28th).

Bonny Eagle Coach Mike Burleson said Raymond usually goes out too fast and struggles to hang on. Saturday, she bided her time.

“She was probably 12th or 13th most of the race and moved up in the second half,” he said. “It’s a race we’ve been expecting all year, just kind of waiting for her to put it all together.”

Two weeks ago, in an effort to reduce stomach pain during races, Raymond switched to a gluten-free diet.

“That, and the new plan, helped a lot,” she said. “I knew at the Pain Cave that I felt good, that I still had some left in the tank.”

Matson, the defending state champion, led from start to finish, but it took more than a mile before she pulled away from Gorham junior Kate Tugman, who finished eight seconds behind. Falmouth sophomore Karley Piers held off Gorham junior Iris Kitchen for fourth, in 19:53.

“I wasn’t feeling super great today,” Matson said. “I was cramping. I just thought about how states are more important, so this was just kind of a trial run.”

York Coach Candace Jaffe learned Saturday morning that her top runner would not make the trip because of illness. The goal shifted from trying to beat Yarmouth – a winner by six points over York at the Western Maine Conference championships – to simply qualifying for the state meet.

Instead, the Wildcats ran wild. Grace Gear (sixth), Sydney Fogg (10th), Sophia Newton (13th) and Leah Hultstrom (15th) paved the way, and senior Martha McCaddin, pressed into service as the alternate, wound up 26th overall to complete the scoring and give York a four-point victory over Cape Elizabeth (69-73), with Yarmouth another 16 points behind in third.

“I give all credit to my captain, Grace Gear, for getting these ladies fired up,” Jaffe said. “She knew what she had to do.”

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Lila Gaudrault pulled away from Freeport senior Lily Horne to win individual honors by four seconds in 19:34. Cape senior Camilla Grosso (20:59) was the only other Class B runner to break 21 minutes.

Defending Class C state champion Olivia Reynolds, a sophomore at Maine Coast Waldorf, won her race by a full minute over Maranacook junior Molly McGrail in 20:15. But Maranacook edged Maine Coast by four points.

“We’ll have another opportunity next week, and those girls are so nice anyway,” Reynolds said. “They deserve the win.”

Falmouth High School’s Sofie Matson, right, is followed by Gorham’s Kate Tugman, left, as they come out of the woods during the Class A girls’ regional cross country championship Saturday in Cumberland, Maine. (Joel Page/Portland Press Herald)
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