RANGELEY — Mt. Blue High School’s Sarah Wade stared long and hard at the monitor posted in the finish area of the Class A girls’ state championship freestyle race.
Her gaze drifted to the center of the screen. Entrenched atop the field by nearly a minute, Wade’s focus shifted to teammates and friends.
Oxford Hills’ India Lucas tapped Wade on the shoulder. Wade turned, and they embraced. As the Mt. Blue senior told Lucas about crossing the finish line and shedding tears over her final race representing the Cougars, her eyes welled up again.
“We’ve skied together since seventh grade and, oh my gosh I’m just going to miss everyone so much next year,” Wade said.
Wade’s going to miss the results, too.
The Cougars’ top skier went out a winner Thursday, capturing the freestyle event at the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center on Day 2 of the Class A Nordic Ski Championships, and helping Mt. Blue to a second-place team finish.
“It would have been nice to win, but it was fun,” Wade said.
Day 1 wasn’t so fun for Wade, despite a second-place finish in the classical event.
“Did she tell you she fell?” Mt. Blue coach David Nordstrom asked.
Of course she didn’t.
When asked about her race in Wednesday’s classical event, Wade sheepishly smiled, bared her shiny braces and blushed.
“Yesterday, it just really wasn’t a great day,” Wade said, “but today, I thought, ‘Yesterday happened, but today is a new day and I have to race as hard as I can.'”
Nordstrom filled in the blanks.
“She fell, she got tangled up with another girl,” he said. “They both fell down. They both apologized. She was coming on to a slower girl. Eight seconds (her margin of defeat in a race where she was heavily favored) isn’t much. She wouldn’t tell you. She would feel like that’s her responsibility, because that’s how she is.”
Instead of feeling badly about her finish, Wade took the result in another direction.
“She was kidding around about how, it’s her last state meet, she’s a senior, and she’s never fallen in a race as a high school student,” Nordstrom said. “She totally owned it, and she came back and did it up today.”
She certainly did.
Wade skied the 5-kilometer loop at the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center in 17 minutes, 31 seconds. Laura Frank of Portland was second in 18:21.5.
On Thursday, after finishing her final race representing Mt. Blue High School, the tears she’d held in after Wednesday’s result flowed freely.
Only this time, her tears were happy, borne of accomplishment and laced with nostalgia
“I got a hug at the finish line, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was my last high school race,” Wade said. “I can’t believe it.”