NEWRY- Rebecca Schoen had been close before.

The Mt. Blue senior nordic skier remembered her mantra from a year ago: Just try to stay close to Oxford Hills skier Mandy Ivey.

This year, the rest of the field was saying the same about Schoen, who flew around the course at Black Mountain in Rumford in just 14 minutes, 59 seconds to win the Class A freestyle state title on Thursday.

“For me, it was almost harder this year than it was last year,” Schoen said. “I knew I could win, but I still had to go out there and do it.”

Edward Little’s Laura Gardner finished second after telling people before the race she would do exactly that.

“I was 40 seconds behind (Schoen) at KVACs,” Gardner said. “It felt faster at KVACs, but the snow was different then. I knew I had to go after her, but I also had to worry about Marybeth (Kelson, of Leavitt).”

Though Schoen took first, and teammate Meredith Allen finished third in the freestyle event, the Leavitt Hornets’ depth took over. Kelson grabbed fourth and all six Leavitt skiers finished in the top 12 to flood the field as the Hornets established a 17-point lead over Mt. Blue for the nordic title.

“You know you had a good day when you get all six skiers in the top 12,” Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. “They saw each other on the course today, and they all helped each other out.”

Oxford Hills, buoyed by a strong finish from McKinley Page (eighth), is tied for third at 52 points with Gardner’s Eddies, seven back of Mt. Blue.

On the boys’ side, the Hornets and and Cougars are again locked in battle, but this race is tighter – a lot tighter.

Derek Rowe raced around the course in 12:10 to finish first and teammate Welley Ramsey placed second for Mt. Blue, but Leavitt skiers Lauren Turner and Justin Fereshetian followed them at Nos. 3 and 4.

“The way it ended up, I had a Leavitt kid in front of me, so I was able to pace off of him,” Rowe said. “Usually, I go out too fast.”

Leavitt edged Mt. Blue by one point in the discipline, 25-26. Oxford Hills is a distant third with 44 points, while Edward Little chimed in with 48 and sits in fourth.

Down (on) the hill

If there was an overriding theme on the first day of Class A alpine competition Thursday at Sunday River, it was to find a way to stay standing for two complete runs.

“The course was nasty,” Mt. Blue skier Pete Farnum said.

“There were some pretty big ruts,” agreed teammate, Reid Bond.

Three of Mt. Blue’s seven skiers fell, joining a number of other athletes who struggled down the slope known as “Monday Mourning.”

At the end of two giant slalom runs, the Windham boys and Lake Region girls emerged the least tattered, and they each held a lead going into today’s slalom event.

In what is shaping up to be a classic battle in not only alpine, but in nordic and for the overall title, Leavitt picked up seven points on Mt. Blue in the boys’ GS and the two school sit second and third in the race for the overall alpine title. Windham, with 51 points, sits 11 points ahead of Leavitt and 17 ahead of the Cougars.

“We look more at the overall, I think,” Farnum said, “but I can imagine what it would have looked like if we had all finished our runs standing up.”

Edward Little had high hopes entering the week, but when three of their skiers stumbled, the Eddies, too, fell, and now sit in eighth.

One bright spot for EL was Mitchell Snowe, who placed third in the GS after pounding out the second-fastest second run in the morning session.

On the girls’ side, Mt. Blue had more trouble, and the Lakers snuck in with 41 points. Marshwood also turned some heads with a 62-point performance and sits in second, one point ahead of Mt. Blue in third.

“It just didn’t seem like the kids could ski as fast as they wanted to,” Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr said. “It was all about trying to stay on your feet for a whole run.”

Kyle Cyr led the Cougars’ charge with a third-place finish.

The teams will battle today at Sunday River for the state alpine title, and then shift to Black Mountain of Maine on Saturday to decide the nordic and overall champions.

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