It’s not easy to launch or revive a varsity sport these days.

If declining enrollment and apathy don’t get you, budget cuts will.

Cross country might be an exception to the rule, however. All you need are legs to run, feet to walk the hallways of the school, a good sales pitch to potential teammates and coaches, and wheels to provide transportation.

Jay High School seniors Marlee Dubord and Naomi Gettle made the most of those resources over the last two years, and they have the Tigers’ dormant program up and running again in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“Those two basically got Jay cross country started again,” said Randy Easter, a longtime coach, competitor and local running personality.

Gettle and Dubord’s determination moved Easter to coach the upstart team.

As juniors, the two provided their own rides to most of the regularly scheduled weekly MVC meets, as well as the conference competition in October.

Easter, who provides timing and scoring at cross country meets throughout the region, was a sort of unofficial supervisor last fall.

“I was going be at most if not all of the meets they would be competing in,” Easter said. “And I would be running almost every day after school, anyway.”

With those conveniences in place, a team was reborn.

Easter then secured coaching help from Bill Trommer, a mathematics teacher in the Jay system.

That left the next move to Dubord and Gettle, who helped talk senior Shauni Flagg and junior Lindsey Jacques into joining the team this year.

Four faithful runners put the Tigers on a level with many of their potential competitors in the MVC. It still was one shy of the number necessary to score points in a meet, however.

Enter Paula Despres, who completed the puzzle by answering the starting gun as Jay’s fifth racer Sept. 15 in a six-team showcase at the University of Maine at Augusta.

That made Jay eligible, along with St. Dom’s and Lisbon, to compete for the win. Those honors went to the Saints with 28 points, but the Tigers (44) impressively edged the Greyhounds (48) for second.

Jay placed its top three runners in a close pack in the middle of the field, led by Flagg (ninth, 25:46). Jacques and Gettle followed in 10th and 11th. Dubord finished 18th, with Despres 22nd.

Those times already were a dramatic improvement from Jay’s meet a week earlier at Boothbay, where Flagg led the team at a 27:11 clip.

Cross country isn’t new to Jay. The Tigers won three consecutive Class C girls’ championships from 1985 to ’87.

Impressive debut

New cross country coaches don’t always know they’re going to get until they have a chance to run with their team a few times in the mid-August heat.

Dan Crooker’s list of names included four junior boys with running experience. But the incoming Telstar Regional High School coach still had an inkling about a relative unknown named Josef Holt-Andrews.

“Even though he is only a freshman, he has the potential to emerge as one of the top runners in our conference,” Crooker said.

So far, Crooker’s scouting report is right on the money.

In Telstar’s home meet Sept. 3, Holt-Andrews finished second to reigning conference, regional and state champion Matt McClintock of Madison.

Holt-Andrews was more than a minute and a half in front of teammate Adam Mahar for the runner-up spot.

Telstar’s Morgan Lee, the only girl competing for the Rebels, won her race.

Honor roll

• Edward Little’s boys remain on a roll in the KVAC. Faisal Noor (second), Hussein Mohamed (fifth), Lucas Bourget (seventh) and Justin Leclair (ninth) led the Red Eddies to victory in their race Sept. 17. A week earlier, in Auburn, Noor captured the individual event while leading his team to victory.

• Kendra Lobley of Poland is cruising through the first part of her season. Lobley defeated Heather Evans of York by 16 seconds in last Friday’s home race at Poland Preservation Park.

• Meagan Thomas of Lisbon, a top-three finisher at last year’s MVC girls’ meet, won this year’s first girls’ race at the same University of Maine at Augusta site.

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