Girls from eight high schools compete near the start of the cross country meet at Leavitt Area High School in Turner on Friday.
It took a personal best that he wasn’t expecting to run, but the speed of Friday’s cross country race ultimately played into Oxford Hills’ Dominic Sclafini’s hands.
“I was kind of surprised that I won,” Sclafani said after his personal best time of 17:13 earned him the victory on a steamy afternoon at Leavitt Area High School. “I didn’t know I could run that fast.”
Sclafani went out quickly and took the lead early on Leavitt’s home course, a relatively flat layout that is primed for some good times.
“I was planning on taking the first mile a little easier,” Sclafani said. “But Abbas (Muktar, of Lewiston), took it out pretty quick, so I just went with him.”
Through the first mile, Sclafani came through at a 5:06, six seconds ahead of Muktar and about 15 seconds ahead of Edward Little’s Russell Allen.
“I knew they were going to run pretty quick so I just tried to run with them,” Sclafani said. “It’s always fun to compete with those guys.”
After two miles, the Oxford Hills runner increased his lead to 24 seconds over Muktar, and even more over Allen and a pack of three Mt. Blue runners. Muktar finished with a time of 17:36, followed by Allen at 17:45.
On the team side, Mt. Blue came away with the win, 61-71 over the Blue Devils, and did so without their best runner, Zeke Robinson. Cougars coach Brian Kelly was impressed how his team battled through the circumstances.
“We kind of talked about kids stepping up today,” Kelly said. “Sam Stinson is usually our number three runner and he’s had a great week. Our number three today, Jon Lesko, ran his best time ever.”
Mt. Blue’s depth proved to be crucial in the victory, as the Cougars had three runners in the top seven finishers.
“We have a whole crew of guys, our six, seven, eight guys, and I told them one of you have to come up and get in that five spot,” Kelly said. “And they all ran hard and had great times. I’m excited to see what they can do.”
On the girls’ side, Edward Little’s Jillian Richardson came through the finish line first with a time of 19:39, 49 seconds faster than second-place Molly McGrail from Maranacook.
“I wanted to work on the middle of the race,” Richardson said. “The humidity was tough, but I felt good. That’s my PR.”
Richardson came through with a staggering first mile of six minutes flat, and a two-mile split of 12:47, dusting the competition from the beginning.
McGrail’s second place finish helped the Black Bears take the team win. Maranacook had its top five runners in the top ten, showing that they haven’t lost a step since their KVAC championship a year ago.
“You never know how kids are going to go out and this race started fast and they were supposed to keep running their own race,” Maranacook coach Rosalea Kimball said. “Compared to the courses we’ve run, it’s a faster course. Overall, I would say this is a medium course, but when the kids get here they’re like, ‘Oh cool, this is a lot easier.’”
Jillian Richardson of Edward Little High School runs out in front of the field during the cross country meet at Leavitt Area High School in Turner on Friday. Richardson won the girls meet.
Kaitlyn Reny of Lewiston High School approaches the last 100 yards during the cross country meet at Leavitt Area High School in Turner on Friday.