Mt. Blue’s Nolan Rogers gets some air coming off a downhill portion of the course early in the Class A boys’ race at Quarry Road on Friday.
WATERVILLE — When Mt. Blue’s school bus came around those familiar mountains, the Cougars were driving home with Class A boys’ and girls’ Nordic state titles and four first-place finishes from a pair of athletes who gave a textbook demonstration of fortitude.
The firm of Tucker Barber & Julia Ramsey Inc., each glided off with first-place finishes in the classic and skating competitions during the two-day Class A Nordic skiing state championships at warm-and-slushy Quarry Roads on Friday morning.
The Mt. Blue girls won with 34 points, followed by Deering (88) and Fryeburg Academy (101). In the boys’ competition, Mt Blue came out on top with 41 points, followed by Falmouth (109) and Oxford Hills (125).
Forget weather-related issues. The Cougars overpowered the Class A field over the two days. But the sun’s absence for the first race made it a heckuva a lot easier on the boys.
“Yes, so it was a lot faster,” Barber said. “You didn’t have to worry about your skis digging in much. It was definitely a little different. Still very hot, though.
“Obviously, you still have the heat. You’ve got to race hard, obviously. Yeah, we felt pretty good after coming in from yesterday, hoping for good results.”
Barber, who was victorious in Thursday’s classic competition, captured another Class A individual state title with a winning time of 15:08.0 on the 5.5-kilometer freestyle course. The classical state championship is Barber’s second in a row, but this is his first skate state title, having finished second in 2016.
Ramsey added her second individual title in two days, topping the pack, after a hot sun made an appearance, with a time of 18:57.6.
“That was an immediate change,” Ramsey said. “It was pretty fast until the sun came out, I mean, considering the warm temperatures.
“That’s what happens, whether who goes first or second. The weather changes. My legs were feeling it from yesterday. I gave it as much as I could. The double meets are hard, especially because we don’t have a lot of double meets — back-to-back races. We try to do hard workouts to prepare for states.”
Of course, Barber and Ramsey had a lot of support from their teammates. In the boys’ event, Isaiah Reid (15:38.2) and Nolan Rogers (16:05.1) came rolling in at third- and fifth-place, respectively.
“I think it went pretty well,” Rogers said. “I have had some problems with asthma stuff the past couple of races, so this one I tried to stay really relaxed. It worked out pretty well.”
For the Mt. Blue girls, teammates Meghan Charles (No. 3, 19:23.6), Gretchen Huish (No. 7, 20:23.6), Grace Andrews (No. 11, 20:49.3) and Chelsea Seabold (No. 12, 21:00.1) helped steer the Cougars to a state crown.
And then the sun fought its way through the clouds and heated up the girls’ race at high noon.
“It went really pretty well,” Andrews said. “It was very hot and not particularly fun, as far as the temperature goes, but the conditions are actually better than we expected them to be.
“They (the trails) were pretty fast. It was really nice on the warm-up. The trail conditions were really nice then — if we could have raced at seven in the morning.”
A bit farther down the ladder, Sam Smith (15th, 16:58.6), Michale Gurney (18th, 17:00) and Samuel Stinson (19th, 17:12.9) all gave the Cougars a solid boost in the standings.
“I am a little tired, but I am going to be OK,” Stinson said. “(The course) was nice. It was a good, hard pack. It’s a good, solid pack. I really thank Waterville for hosting it. They do an amazing job and good luck to everybody else.”
“The sun wasn’t out, so the snow was a lot faster,” Smith said. “So you were really able to save your energy throughout the race, whereas yesterday, you wasted all your energy pushing through the soft snow, but today was very fast.”
Oxford Hills’ Nathaniel McNutt (No. 7, 16:15.7) and Leavitt’s Jason Labbe (No. 8, 16:27.7) also finished in the top 10.
The Vikings’ Cameron Bancroft finished 12th with an impressive time of 16:44.9.
“We could have faced some challenges, but coach nailed the wax. The glide was is amazing,” Oxford Hills’ Cameron Bancroft said. “I had a very good day compared to yesterday. Yeah, I had an all-around good day.”
There was another big grin on Mt. Blue coach Claire Polfus’s face as she waited for the awards.
“Tucker really pulled through. I just talked to him about his race,” Polfus said. “He really had a nice race. Where I was standing on the hill, he was really pushing, you could tell. That just what you want to see from an athlete.
“On the boys’ side, it was really nice to see our seniors have really nice races. It was third and fifth. That is really great for them. Our next three boys were really great, too.
“The girls again really pushed through another really hard race. The girls got the sun again. I told the girls that they were the toughest that I have ever seen them. I said, ‘Let’s do it again.’ They did.”
Halfway home throught the Class A girls’ race, Mt. Blue’s Grace Andrews powers uphill.Mt. Blue’s Sam Smith powers to the finish line of the Class A boys’ Nordic skating race Friday at Quarry Road.Oxford Hills’ Cam Bancroft nears the finish line of the Class A boys’ race.Mt. Blue’s Julia Ramsey skates out of the arena halfway through the girls’ Class A Nordic skating race Friday.Mt. Blue’s Tucker Barber powers up hill during the Class A boys’ Nordic skating race Friday. Barber placed first.Mt. Ararat’s Hayden Libby heads out at the start of the Class A boys’ race.Mt. Ararat’s Anna Jackson starts the Class A girls’ race.Edward Little’s Time Finnerty emerges through the trees during the Class A girls’ race Friday at Quarry Road.Met. Blue’s Tucker Barber powers to the finish line.Mt. Blue’s Nolan Rogers nears the top of the last hill of the Class A boys’ race Friday at Quarry Road.
Mt. Blue’s Grace Andrews, left, and Julia Ramsey share a moment after the finish of the girls’ skating race at the Class A state championships at Quarry Roads on Friday.Mt. Blue’s Tucker Barber tucks as he enters the arena to finish the Class A boys’ skating race Friday. Barber placed first to claim both Nordic individual championships.