Cameron Bancroft of Oxford Hills leads a heat of sprints in front of Matt Syphers of Edward Little during the Oxford Sprints at Roberts Farm on Saturday. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)
NORWAY — The entire day of the Oxford Hills Sprints is a battle of mental and physical durability. After four 1-kilometer elimination races, the final six boys and girls lined up for their fifth and final sprint races.
Mt. Blue’s Meghan Charles and Deering’s Peter Jordan outlasted their competitors for victories on Saturday at Roberts Farm in Norway.
For Charles, the win was a welcome surprise.
“I tried to, on the last one, throw in a little surge on the uphill, and it just happened to work out and I just tried to keep it consistent,” Charles said. “I just tried to stay and whatever happened, happened. I wasn’t expecting how it turned out, I wasn’t expecting that, it was awesome.”
Charles finished the final kilometer race in 4:16.05, barely edging out Eva Clement of Falmouth (4:16.35) and Jenny Wilbraham of Morse (4:16.53) in what was easily the best race of the day. Charles distributed her strength evenly throughout the day, and training at Titcomb Mountain gave Charles the advantage she needed at the end.
“Once you’re on the course, don’t exert too much energy until the last few heats so you can kind of conserve your energy that way,” Charles said. “I know that one of my strengths is going uphills and it’s kind of because where I train, at Titcomb.”
The race was a good benchmark for Mt. Blue coach Claire Polfus ahead of the season’s biggest races.
“It’s a really fun race because there’s so much chance involved, sometimes it works well for you and sometimes it works badly for you. But it’s good for the kids to just go for it each time and just live in the moment,” Polfus said. “With Meg winning, it’s a really exciting thing for her senior year, she was really excited and that was really great to see. We had a lot of illness on our girls’ side so it was really exciting to see them ski.”
Mt. Blue’s rival and 2017 KVAC co-champion Maranacook had Laura Parent in the final. Parent finished sixth in a time of 4:39.96. Deering’s Sierra Aponte Clarke skied the fastest time of the day, finishing the time trial with a time of 2:59. Clarke did not reach the final.
On the boys’ side, it was all Peter Jordan from start to finish. The Deering skier won with a time of 3:41.43. Jordan used the narrow start to his advantage after practicing the loop early in the day.
“The starts are really critical,” Jordan said. “If you can win the starts then you’re in good shape, especially because it narrows down so fast and people have to work a lot harder to get around you … I was thinking I’m gonna double pole as hard as I can from the start and just push it from there and the start worked really well so I turned it on and tried to see how long it would last.”
Jordan knew halfway up the first hill in the woods that he had the win and finished strongly, defeating second-place Connor Dolan of Camden Hills’ time of 3:44.81. Falmouth had two finishers among the top six — Ethan Livingood finished third with a time of 3:47.34, and Simon Piratic finished fifth at 3:50.87.
Oxford Hills’ Cam Bancroft, who finished in eighth at the Sassi Memorial the week before, fell going around the last turn of the quarterfinals and did not qualify for the semis, while teammate Tom Bancroft fell on the opening stretch, shutting the Vikings out of the finals.
In the 3-kilometer races, Charlie Caldwell of Gardiner won the boys’ race with a time of 10:17, while Sarah Halberstadt of Maranacook won the girls’ race in 13:24.
Meg Charles of Mt. Blue High School, center, leads a pair of skiers across the line during the Oxford Hills Sprints at Roberts Farm. At left is Jenny Wilbraham of Morse, and at right is Eva Clement of Falmouth.
Maranacook High School’s Laura Parent takes the final turn of the race during the Oxford Sprints at Roberts Farm on Saturday. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)
Peter Jordan of Deering wins the boys’ sprint final during the Oxford Hills Sprints at Roberts Farm on Saturday. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)