HS Skiing: Seeds hold the line in KVAC, MVC

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FARMINGTON — All four individual leaders went into the second day of the KVAC and MVC Nordic championships on Saturday with comfortable leads built up in Friday’s freestyle at Sugarloaf. All four ended the classical pursuit at Titcomb having put even more distance between themselves and all of their pursuers.

In the KVAC, Mt. Blue’s Sarah Wade won her first classical and second consecutive overall conference title. Sam Wood of Mt. Ararat won the boys’ title, his first.

In the MVC, Isabel Gerencer of St. Dom’s coasted to her first girls’ championship and Dylan Thombs of Monmouth won his first boys’ title.

The Mt. Blue girls, Leavitt boys, Monmouth girls and Mt. Abram boys won team championships.

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KVAC

Wade had a 92-second head start on teammate Julia Ramsey after Friday’s freestyle. She won Saturday’s race in 20:17.4, 1:22 ahead of Ramsey, who finished second in the classical and overall standings.

“It’s awesome. It’s my last home race so it feels great,” Wade said.

The Titcomb course was considerably slower than the last time Wade competed there in a freestyle race on Jan. 29, which she won.

“I just wanted to stay relaxed. If you’re relaxed, you don’t flail around,” Wade said. “I focused on technique and just having a long stroke.”

India Lucas of Oxford Hills finished third in the race and fourth overall. Torri Pelletier of Mt. Ararat placed third overall.

Besides Wade and Ramsey, the Cougars placed four other skiers in the top 18 of the overall standings — Leah Hardy (ninth), Miriam Cohen (12th), Anja Nordstrom (13th) and Sarita Crandall (18th). It was more than enough for Mt. Blue (24) to hold off Maranacook (35) and Leavitt (40).

“Leah Hardy had a really good race where she moved up several places today,” Mt. Blue coach David Nordstrom said. “Anja moved up some places. We have one girl who had an off day, but it was really nice that Anja was able to move in. But it really helps when your top two come in one-two.”

The Leavitt boys won their first conference title since 2010 with four skiers in the top 14 of the overall standings.

“Second day at KVACs have not typically been our strongest day,” Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. “We knew that today we would have to be even stronger than we have been in the past. We’ve been working hard on technique throughout the season to get strong in both disciplines.”

The Hornets got the usual pace-setting performances from Harrison Knowlton (third overall), Rylee Knox (fifth) and Josh Therrien (eighth). But Jarod Farrar (14th) was the difference-maker as Leavitt (30) slipped past Maranacook (32) and defending champion Mt. Blue (33).

“Jarod Farrar had a phenomenal race these past two days,” Williamson said. “Harrison, Rylee and Josh have been really strong at the top and really pulled the team along.”

“There are different ways to describe how close the finish was,” Nordstrom said. “I would describe it as a statistical tie between three really strong teams, and I’m really pleased that Dustin and Leavitt won.”

Wood (30:28.0 combined) finished 58 seconds ahead of Maranacook’s Ethan Harriman on Saturday to win the overall title by 2:16. Knowlton (32:56.5) was third.

“I’m a stronger skater, so coming in to the classic race I wanted to have a good race just for personal reasons,” Wood said. “Mentally, I wasn’t afraid that they were going to catch me, but I felt chased. That definitely pushed me. It was a tough course, so it definitely helped to feel like they were right on me.”

MVC

The conference runner-up in 2013, Thombs swapped places with defending champion Thomas Faraday of Mt. Abram this year, extending a 16-second lead after the first day by a full minute on Saturday.

“I felt like I had good technique and the wax was there and I was as rested as I could be from yesterday,” Thombs said. “I was a little bit worried. I’ve blown up in races before and I didn’t want to have that happen again. But I was more worried about it (Friday). Since I didn’t, it was more of a relief and with this race I could just put it all out there.”

Thombs’ aggressiveness translated into a time (16:58.7) that would have put him second in the KVAC classical. His combined time (32:18.7) was second only to Wood, too, and left him plenty of breathing room ahead of Faraday (33:34.7) and Mt. Abram’s Xavier Romanoski (36:52.6), who led the Roadrunners to the team title.

“For this course, it’s a pretty easy strategy. The first three kilometers is all uphill, so just kill youself on the uphill and coast on the downhills and just work it all through,” said Thombs, a senior who came back from double shin surgery last April. “My biggest strategy was to attack the uphills and make sure I had good technique on that.”

Thombs didn’t have any other Monmouth boys to train with him this year, but training with the girls’ team proved to be mutually beneficial. The Mustangs (61 points) won their first conference championship easily over Telstar (101) and Winthrop (110).

Junior Becki Bryant, who finished second in the overall individual standings, led the Mustangs. Jordyn Mann (eight), Shannon Buzzell (ninth) and Carey Knowles (14th)  were the other standouts on what is a rapidly-rising, and growing, program.

“This is, I think, our fourth year as a program. We had more people that were committed and that pushed this year,” said Bryant. “We’ve had some injuries to overcome. One of our girls couldn’t ski this year because she had a concussion and one just sprained her ankle last week.”

“But our goal for this season was to see if we can win MVCs,” she added, “and just seeing how we’ve been skiing all year, I felt like we just had to realize who our competition was and beat them out there.”

Gerencer, like Thombs the conference runner-up last year, added 1:10 to her lead with an impressive classical race (21:18.2) that was the second-best girls’ time of the day, behind only Wade.

Her two-day total of 40:26.2 topped Bryant (42:09.8) and Mt. Abram’s Reilly Romanoski (44:10.5).

Mt. Abram won its sixth boys’ title in a row with four of the top 14 in the overall standings, with Courtland Talmage (fifth) and Seth Thomas (14th) helping the Roadrunners hold off Dirigo (55).

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