AUGUSTA – The Monmouth girls held a great advantage over the rest of the field for Saturday’s MVC cross country championship at the University of Maine at Augusta.

While most squads could field just enough to compete as a team, the Mustangs used an arsenal of depth to capture their fifth consecutive title.

Led by Kerstin Grenier’s third-place finish, Monmouth placed seven runners in the top 18 to defeat runner-up Hall-Dale by a 42-61 margin. Lisbon was third with 75 points.

In the boys’ race, Tyler Clark (16:39) won going away, as Lisbon nipped Winthrop by a score of 37-42 to win its fourth straight conference crown.

The Mustangs were hit recently with injuries and an illness, which affected some of their top runners.

No problem.

“Each kid looked at what she could do to help the team,” said Monmouth coach Rick Amero. “One through seven stepped it up a notch. Kerstin had a breakout race today, and Stephany Perkins and Becca Irwin ran better than we thought they would.”

Hall-Dale’s Magen Ellis took an early lead in the race and increased it. Only Telstar’s Brianne Bailey attempted to make a run at Ellis midway through the race, but Ellis just kept widening the margin.

“I generally just run at a pace to be comfortable,” said Ellis. “I like to run my race.”

Coming out of the woods, Ellis held a five-second advantage before putting on the afterburners to win going away. Her time of 20:52 was 33 seconds better than runner-up Bailey.

“I definitely picked it up toward the end,” said Ellis. “I always like to think someone’s behind me. It gives me incentive.”

The team race for the boys was expected to be fiercely fought between the Greyhounds and the Ramblers, and neither team disappointed.

Clark quickly took the lead with teammate Nick Caton and Winthrop’s Danny Soltan going with him. Moments after ducking into the woods at the half-mile mark, Clark shifted gears.

“We were right together for about 400 yards into the woods,” said Clark. “That’s when I put on a little surge and pulled away. I made sure I was on pace and didn’t slow down.”

Clark finished 37 seconds ahead of Soltan.

“(Danny) ran a smart race,” said Winthrop coach Jay Lindsey. “At one point, he said second place wasn’t bad. He was comfortably ahead (of Caton) and he didn’t kill himself.”

Caton took third place, while teammates Aaron Cloutier placed sixth and Ethan Masselli eighth. At that point, Winthrop had just Soltan and Tor O’Brien (fourth place) across the finish line.

“The big turnaround was Ethan Masselli,” said Lisbon coach Hank Fuller. “He was ahead of Winthrop’s No. 3.”

“We did what we wanted to do,” said Lindsey. “We had seven kids in the top 20. I was pleased, and there are still two more races.”

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