RUMFORD — It was a thought Silas Eastman didn’t want to dwell on.
The Fryeburg senior couldn’t help but think about it this week. After two straight wins at the Sassi Memorial Classical ski race, it was too tempting for Eastman to contemplate a third consecutive win.
“I tried not to think about it a lot, but it was in my mind though,” said Eastman. “I didn’t want to stress myself out at all going in. So I didn’t think about it. I just approached it like any other race.”
It became more than any other competition when Eastman outskied the field for that third straight win Saturday at Black Mountain.
“I’m so happy,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. I’m relieved.”
On the girls’ side, there was a familiar name atop the leaders as well. Sadie James won the race last year. The former Mt. Abram skier now racing for Gould claimed her second straight with a similar dominating effort.
“It was really bittersweet because it was the last Sassi for me,” said James. “It hit me this morning when I woke up that: ‘Oh my God, I’m a senior and this is the last time I’m going to race in the Sassi.’ I really wanted to make it count and repeat what I did last year. I think I did that.”
In the team results, Gould won the boys’ race with 86 points. Leavitt was second with 117 while Marancook was close behind at 119. Mericoneag and Falmouth rounded out the top five while Mt. Blue was sixth.
Merriconeag won the girls’ meet with 74 points followed by Yarmouth with 84. Portland was third with 86. After Caribou in fourth with 113, Gould was fifth at 114. Leavitt finished eighth followed by Mt. Blue and Oxford Hills in ninth and 10th respectively.
James finished third two years ago and won the race last year. Though she was battling a cold, she was also determined to make her last Sassi race a great one.
“I went into it with the mindset ‘It’s the last Sassi, let’s do this’,” said James.
Do it she did. She burned up the 5k course and finished in 16:20.9. Her closest competitor was Katahdin’s Hannah Streinz, who finished in 17:41.4.
“I felt pretty good,” said James. “I’m always exhausted at the finish. I think that’s how I know that I gave it all I could. It was really hard. High School Hill was really challenging, but I love hills and I love racing. High School Hill is one of my favorite places to race.”
Portland’s Abby Popenoe was third in 17:41.9, and Katahdin’s Lydia Streinz was fourth in 17:43.2. Caribou’s Sarah Doak was fifth in 17:48.3.
The other top local finishers were Leavitt’s Maddie Wiegman in eight in 18:01.9. Mt. Blue’s Sarah Wade was 11th in 18:13.7. Also in the top 20 was Mt. Abram’s Emma Houston in 16th, Gray-New Gloucester’s Kaelyn Wood in 17th and Alyssa Andrews from Oxford Hills in 19th.
With Eastman’s previous two Sassi wins came the pressure to win a third straight.
“I did feel some pressure, but I think I blocked it out.”
Instead, Eastman tried to focus on the kind of talent he’d be racing. The unique aspect of the Sassi is that it brings together some of the top racers in the state, from all classes. It gave Eastman a chance to race some of the best and prove himself.
“I wanted to just go in and try to win it,” said Eastman. “I didn’t want to think about it being such a big race. I just wanted to push myself against these guys.”
Eastman finished the 5K in 14:00. Katahdin’s Daniel Streinz was second in 14:27.4.
“It went really well,” said Eastman. “I was really happy with the conditions. Some of the tracks were gone after the J2 race, but I felt very good. Coming up High School Hill, I had plenty of energy. Overall, it was a really good race.”
Fort Fairfield’s Lance McKenney was third in 14:38.6 while Thornton’s Mitch Harris was fourth in 14:44.0. Josh Espy of Waynflete was fifth in 14:46.8.
The top local racer was Monmouth’s Dylan Thombs. He took seventh in 14:56.4. Also in the top 20 were Leavitt’s Rylee Knox in 15th, Mt. Abram’s Thomas Faraday in 17th, Mt. Blue’s Zach Veayo in 18th and Edward Little’s Zack Tannenbaum in 19th. Gould’s Trent Rosenberg was 20th, just ahead of teammates Caleb Clarke and Aiden Clarke.