Nearly 400 skiers from 27 schools converged upon Telstar Regional High School for the first Telstar Relays in three years. Not only was there enough snow to hold the race for the first time since 2010, near-ideal conditions greeted the competitors, many of whom were engaged in their first competition of the season.
Merriconeag won the “A” race, pitting the top skiers from each team in a 4×3 kilometer boy-girl-boy-girl relay format. Gould and Yarmouth finished second and third, respectively, while Yarmouth’s No. 2 team edged Portland by one second for fourth.
Zoe Chace-Donahue overtook Gould’s Leela Hornbach on one of the 3-kilometer loop’s hills early in the anchor leg and crossed the finish line 20 seconds ahead of her, combining with teammates Graham Roeber, Emelie Chace-Donahue and Jack Pierce for a winning time of 37:50.
“We weren’t really expecting to win. Gould is kind of intimidating,” Chace-Donahue said. “I just skied as hard as I could on the last leg and wasn’t really expecting to catch her, but it happened.”
Leavitt’s quartet of Rylee Knox, Abby Chase, Maddie Wiegman and Harrison Knowlton finished sixth, 59 seconds ahead of seventh-place Mt. Blue.
“It’s a way to motivate myself for training for the rest of the season because I can kind of tell where everyone else is and see how much I need to improve,” said Wiegman, the defending state Class A classical champion.
“It was a great start to the season,” Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. “It was nice to have the shorter distance at 3K to ease into the season.”
Skiers encountered a fast course with packed powder. Their only resistance were stiff wind gusts in the open start/finish area of the course.
That provided a good opportunity for the younger skiers to get some experience and the more advanced ones to get an idea of where they stood against the competition that awaits them this season.
Telstar impressed in the “B” race, which pleased coach and race organizer Sarah Southam.
“My skiers are all pretty much new skiers and they all skied pretty well, so you wouldn’t really know they’re new skiers,” Southam said. “It’s just fun for them to work together as a team. I could just tell by the end of the day that they had really jelled as a team. I’m hoping that happened for every team”
Seniors who were around for the last Telstar Relays said they missed that team bonding opportunity.
“We’re really focusing on technique and getting a good workout today. We focus more on speed and doing well in some of the later races,” Leavitt senior Tim Enos said. “It’s a nice event. We don’t get to do this much and it’s nice to rely directly on your team.”