RUMFORD — Emma Houston knew she had some pretty sizable skies to fill.
The Mt. Abram junior also knew she had a great opportunity for herself.
Her Roadrunners lost one of the state's top Nordic skiers when Sadie James transferred to Gould Academy. She was nearly impossible to replace, but her absence also opened the door for her former teammates.
"My team lost Sadie James from last year, and she was our top scorer last year and won," said Houston. "But I was really excited about the possibility of me winning."
Houston made good on her opportunity. She was the top Nordic skier Wednesday at the MVC Championships. Black Mountain hosted both the MVC and KVAC Championships.
"I got really sick at the beginning of the season," said Houston, who finished fifth overall Wednesday. "It was a little rough, but I'm feeling a lot better the last couple races. So I was really excited for the race coming in and felt I had a pretty good chance."
It proved to be a pretty good day for Mt. Abram. In addition to Houston winning the 5K freestyle Nordic race, teammates Elise Luce won the giant slalom event. Then Thomas Faraday won the boys' Nordic race, finishing second overall.
"I think the whole team is excited," said Houston. "I know my coaches (Buzz and Sally Bean) are very happy with Thomas and my race and everybody's race.
"I think the boys will be able to do really well. The girls, we have a really young team, but we have some really good classical skiers. So Saturday could go pretty well."
Mt. Abram led in both first-day team results. The girls finished with 101 points between the two events. Mountain Valley was second with 145 followed by Spruce Mountain with 173. The Roadrunner boys' finished with 90 points with Mountain Valley close behind with 98. Spruce Mountain was third with 121.
In the KVAC, the Oxford Hills girls led with 90 points. Maranacook was second with 104 followed by Mt. Blue with 110 and Leavitt with 156. The Maranacook boys had a lead with 70 points. Mt. Blue was second at 74 while Camden had 158 and Leavitt finished with 169.
The KVAC and MVC teams will compete Saturday at Titcomb Mountain for the second day of the conference championships.
Houston finished her race in 19:22.8. Dirigo's Silvia Lutick was second in 19:55.0. Boothbay's Sophia Thayer was third in 20:29.7 while St. Dom's Izzy Gerencer (20:31.3) and Winthrop's Rachel Ingram (20:56.1) rounded out the top five.
"It felt great," said Houston of the win. "I'm excited. I can't wait for the classical race because that's my better technique."
Faraday topped the MVC Nordic skiers with a time of 15:43.5. Monmouth's Dylan Thomas was second in 15:52.5 followed by Winthrop's Aaron St. Pierre in 16:46.9. Mt. Abram's Jay Chenard took fourth in 17:17.2 while Boothbay's Robert Campbell was fifth in 17:54.1.
"I felt really good," said Faraday. "My coaches, Buzz and Sally Bean, were awesome out there running splits. So I could tell where I was throughout the race. I was really happy with that. That kept me motivated out there."
In the MVC boys' alpine race, Spruce Mountain's Alex Hartford finished first with a combined time of 1:42.74. Teammate Steven Sylvester was right behind him in 1:44.33. Mt. Abram's Jed Stevens was third in 1:44.83. Mountain Valley had two racers in the top five, with J.T. Greene in fourth in 1:45.51 and Lance Richard in fifth in 1:45.68.
In the girls' MVC alpine race, Luce won with a time of 1:35.55. Mountain Valley's Katie Collette was second in 1:39.50 followed by teammate Sarah Klein in third in 1:40.14. Spruce Mountain's Casidee Couture was fourth in 1:46.62 followed by a pair of St. Dom's racers, Sam Ladd (1:50.65) and Olivia Tsouprake (1:50.89).
In the KVAC, Mt. Blue Sarah Wade had to wait patiently for her victory in the Nordic race. She finished with a time of 17:54.4 and took an early stake atop the leader board. She then had to wait to see what other skiers could do.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking," said Wade. "I knew both Maddie (Wiegman) and Caroline (Colan) started behind me by a lot. I knew everything could change. So it was good to just chill and keep it inside."
She was able to let the excitement of the moment out when Maranacook's Colan finished second in 18:18.6 and Leavitt's Wiegman finished third in 18:24.6.
"I was fairly confident that I could be at least in the top three," said Wade. "But I knew I wanted to be able to put it all out there."
Oxford Hills' Alyssa Andrews was fourth in 18:31.5 and Leavitt's Abby Chase took fifth in 20:02.9. The Hornets also had Mackenzie Varney in seventh, Alisha Labbe in ninth and Morgan Shaw in 10th.
In the girls' giant slalom race, Edward Little's Allarie Lever was the winner. She finished in 1:35.79. Mt. Blue's Mallory Parker was third in 1:44.25 followed by Colleen Stauder of Oxford Hills in 1:45.00
In the boy's giant slalom, Maranacook took the top two spots. Matt Delmar won with a time of 1:35.94 followed by Kelby Mace in 1:35.99. Lewiston's Reilly Bolduc was third in 1:36.70 followed by Oxford Hills' Chris Burns in 1:36.81. Mt. Blue took the next two spots with Kyle Farrington in fifth in 1:37.84 followed by Max Kay in 1:37.96.
In the boys' Nordic race, Hampden's Dustin Ramsay was the winner in 15:07.6 followed by Mt. Ararat's Sam Wood in 15:46.3. Mt. Blue's Zach Veayo was third with a time of 16:04.0. Leavitt's Rylee Knox was fifth while the Hornets also placed Harrison Knowlton in seventh, Tim Enos in ninth and Josh Terrien in 10th.