H.S. Cross Country: Mustangs win mid-season MVC meet

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Madison Forgue (35) of Winthrop and Bailey Coates of Spruce Mountain head towards the finish during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Damien Nadeau (26) of Dirigo High School competes during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

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Haley Gunn of Oak Hill High School approaches the finish line during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

AUGUSTA — The pain in Haley Gunn’s right knee was evident in her gait as she emerged from the chute just past the finish line at the Mountain Valley Conference’s mid-season race Wednesday.

The Oak Hill junior wasn’t going to let the pain stop her from trying to keep up with the trio of Boothbay runners in front of her on the UMaine-Augusta course. She was able to keep the last of them, Haily Abbott, in her sights for most of the race, which meant she was going to be among the first to cross the finish on a muggy, partly sunny afternoon.

Gunn finished fourth in the girls’ race with a time of 21:21. Boothbay swept the top three spots, led by sisters Faith (21:24) and Glory Blethen (21:58). Abbott was third.

“I thought I’d be lucky if I broke top 10,” Gunn said.

Gunn has been running with pain ever since her and Oak Hill’s first season in cross country last year. She said doctors believe she has patella femoral syndrome, which usually causes the front of the knee to ache. 

“It starts bothering me usually after the first mile, depending on how (the course) is elevated and how hard the terrain is,” Gunn said. “This one isn’t as bad as the first one we did at Twin Brook.”

“She definitely has a high tolerance for pain,” Oak Hill coach Derek Anderson said. “She’s very stubborn, which serves her well in cross country. She’s had this condition for the last couple of years … but she really pushes herself in races. Today, actually, she looked like she was in the least pain I’ve seen so far. The first two races were actually worse.”

Gunn copes with the pain through physical therapy and tries to manage it with her training regimen, but said it could require reconstructive surgery if the pain persists.

“I’ve just been dealing with it for so long and I love running so much that I’m not going to let it inhibit what I can do,” she said.

“She does what she does on not a lot of training,” Anderson said, “which is really impressive.”

Despite Boothbay’s sweep of the top three spots, Monmouth showed more depth to win the team title with 61 points, followed by Boothbay (72), Winthrop (92), Spruce Mountain (100) and Oak Hill (101).

Sophomore Kaitlin Hunt led the Mustangs with a sixth-place finish (24:26). Danielle Parker (12th), Elliott Sharples (14th), Abbie Hunt (16th) and Emma Vierling (18th) also figured in the scoring.

“They did well,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “We’ve got to improve a lot, but it’s mid-season, that’s all. We just want to see how we match up with the other teams.”

Other runners joining Gunn and Hunt in the top 10 were Winthrop’s Maya Deming (seventh) and Madison Fourgue (ninth) and Spruce Mountain’s Bailey Coates (10th).

Boothbay’s boys backed up first- and second-place finishes by Blake Erhard (18:25) and Kyle Ames (18:49) with four more runners in the top 13 to cruise to the team title with 36 points. Madison (92) was second, followed by Carrabec (106), Dirigo (107) and Monmouth (121).

Telstar’s Gaelan Boyle-Wight finished third, 20 seconds behind Ames.

“It really helps me to focus my training more,” Boyle-Wight said. “(As far as where to focus it), I’ll be working that out myself over the course of the next few hours.”

Owen Libby of Dirigo finished fourth in 19:26 but admitted he was surprised by how challenging the course’s hills could be.

“I could have been faster,” Libby said. “I didn’t know what was coming. It’s a good course, though. It really is.”

Monmouth’s Ethan Thombs (ninth) and Kyle Gunnells (10th) also placed in the top 10.

Isabella Coulombe of Oak Hill High School competes during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Ben Story of Monmouth Academy competes near the finish during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Kaitlin Hunt, left, of Monmouth Academy and Destiny Anair of Richmond race neck and neck towards the finish during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Owen Libby (24) of Dirigo, Gaelan Boyle-Wight (82) of Telstar, Ford Strout (75) of Richmond and Ethan Couture (22) of Dirigo jump out in front at the start of the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Maya Deming, left, of Winthrop and Danielle Parker of Monmouth Academy compete during the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

Gaelan Boyle-Wight of Dirigo High School climbs a lengthy hill towards the end of the Mountain Valley Conference XC meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. 

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