H.S. Skiing: Wiegman leads Leavitt; Hornets, Cougars in control

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RUMFORD — Maddie Wiegman wasn’t trying to win her race Wednesday.

“You just focus on the team, and I want to do well for them,” Wiegman said. “That’s what I was thinking about the whole race. I wanted to do it for the team, not for myself.”

The Leavitt junior isn’t going to turn down the gold medal, though.

Wiegman finished the 5-kilometer double loop at Black Mountain in 18 minutes, 7.7 seconds Wednesday to claim first place in the classical race at the Class A State Skiing Championships at Black Mountain.

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“I was surprised. I never expected this coming into this race,” Wiegman said. “I hoped to get top 10, but I never thought of being a state champion.”

“Maddie getting first, it’s believable, but it’s awesome,” Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. “We haven’t had a girl state champion since Eileen Carey (in 2000). It’s pretty exciting.”

More exciting still for the Hornets? Taren McGray finished third and Lucy Knowlton fourth. Along with Alisha Labbe in 16th, the Hornets compiled a mere 24 points in the team total and held a 39-point advantage over Class A newcomer Falmouth for the nordic combined championship.

“That’s amazing; they skied awesome,” Williamson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. We had perfect skis today. The kick, the glide were right, and they skied their hearts out.During the season, they were getting a little bit better and better. I had a feeling they could do really, really well. But 1-3-4, that was just great.”

One of the staples of every high school race at Black Mountain is the famed “high school hill,” a long, steep climb that traditionally is the final major climb on the 5-kilometer course. Due to this year’s warm temperatures and lack of snowfall, the courses have been altered, and the hill is now part of the first loop of two on the trails, making strategy much more important when tackling the climb.

“We’ve been doing a two-loop course for pretty much the whole season,” Wiegman said. “You just have to bust it up high school, no matter where it is during the race. You just have to go as hard as you can up it, because it can be a race-decider.”

Audrey Bennett of Edward Little and India Lucas of Oxford Hills tied for fifth position. Sarah Wade was Mt. Blue’s top finisher in seventh. Alyssa Andrews of Oxford Hills was eighth.

In the team totals, Mt. Blue trails Falmouth by three for second in the nordic combined race, with Portland and Oxford Hills within five points of the Cougars in fourth and fifth positions.

Class A boys

With a shrug of his shoulders, Fryeburg’s Silas Eastman smiled after catching his breath.

“I see all the guys here and I don’t know many of them,” Eastman said. “We don’t race any of them in the regular season, so it’s nice to have some people that I do know.”

Whether he knew them or not, Eastman had no problem beating them. The Fryeburg junior torched the Black Mountain course with a time of 13:51.0 to earn another state title, finishing 27 seconds better than Mt. Blue’s Dustin Staples.

“It changes,” Eastman admitted. “It’s not the same thrill as it was the first time, but it’s still exciting. It’s still a state championship. It’s just different.”

What didn’t change was the admiration his fellow skiers have of his efforts.

“He’s a wicked competitive skier, I’m thrilled to be able to race with him,” Staples said.

Staples was also thrilled about the day’s final tally. When the snow had settled, the Cougars held off Falmouth by two points for the team classical title, led by Staples in second place and Zach Veayo in fifth position.

“They are really excited, and I thought they just looked strong today,” Mt. Blue coach David Nordstrom said. “Every one of them looked strong and on top of their game.”

“Coach really hit the wax today, and it really worked out well for us,” Staples said. “Now I’m really psyched for tomorrow. Ready to go.”

The boys had to deal with sloppier track conditions as the temperatures climbed through the 40s in the afternoon.

“It was bad out of the tracks,” Staples said. “The tracks were pretty icy and you were able to keep your speed and stuff. It was pretty mushy otherwise. And up hills, I was able to run right up them. Running was the way to go today.”

The Mt. Blue lead is only two, though, over Falmouth, which jumped into the Class A fray this season after two consecutive Class B crowns.

“We’re definitely a competitive team,” Staples said. “The guys from Falmouth were definitely our biggest worries today.”

Jay Lesser led way for the Yachtsmen in fourth place, followed by Tim Follo in eighth.

Thanks to Eastman’s top finish and Paul Kurnick cracking the top 10, Fryeburg is in third in the nordic combined with 47 points, five back of Falmouth’s 42.

For the Cougars, the advantage was likely between the ears.

“You could see they also skied smart,” Nordstrom said. “They placed high school hill in the middle of this course because of the two-lap race. Earlier in the season, the kids were more likely to forget that it wasn’t where it usually is. It’s usually the last big climb and they can lay it all on the line. This year, they had to have some gas left in the tank for the rest of the race. All I said to them as they went by was, ‘Ski smart.’ I didn’t have to say anything else. They thought about strategy today. That made the difference.”

The Class A state championships resume Thursday with the second and final day of nordic skiing, and also the first of two days of alpine competition.

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