CUMBERLAND — Everyone else’s regional championship race was Josef Holt-Andrews’ workout.

No offense intended to the MPA’s Western Maine regional or any of the participants in it. Holt-Andrews respects the event and loves the running community.

But he has bigger fish to fry. In order: Next week’s state meet, then New Englands, and finally the Foot Locker national championships, which aren’t even until December.

“The goal was pretty much to get in a pretty hard effort but not an all-out race pace,” Holt-Andrews said. “We did pretty much exactly what we tried to do, which is break 16 (minutes). Make it feel like a nice, hard effort but not tax my body too much.”

After years chasing Madison’s Matt McClintock and Merriconeag’s Jack Pierce,  Holt-Andrews stormed to the Western Class C individual title by more than a minute Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Center.

Holt-Andrews handled the hilly, 5-kilometer course in 15:54,75, fastest time of the day in all classes. He broke away from the mass start with the lead, extended it to 15 seconds by the completion of the first mile and padded it from there.

Ben Allen of Winthrop ran down Matt Malcom of NYA over the final 200 meters to claim second in 17:13.58.

“I’ll take it. When you’ve got Joe in the race, second place is a win for me,” Allen said.

The MVC racers’ one-two finish was the highlight of a day that packed no shortage of drama for local teams and competitors.

Will Shafer of Gray-New Gloucester fell short in his bid to back up the WMC individual title with the Western Class B crown. Liam Simpson (16:15.92) left behind runner-up Shafer in that race.

And in the most bizarre twist of the blustery day, the Lisbon girls initially believed they had missed out on qualifying for next week’s state meet by one point. The Greyhounds got a reprieve when the Morse coaching staff essentially disqualified one of its own runners for unsportsmanlike tactics against a Lisbon competitor.

Nobody got close enough to impede Holt-Andrews, who dominated the Festival of Champions and MVC championship leading up to regionals.

Holt-Andrews appeared neither flushed nor breathing heavily as he crossed the finish line. He accepted congratulations from spectators and racers from other classes as he took a leisurely walk up the hill that wasn’t much different from his ascents during the race.

“There are a lot of rolling hills. If you like them, then it gets you into a rhythm,” Holt-Andrews said. “If you don’t like them, then it takes you out of your rhythm every 20 feet. I’m a fan of the hills.”

While Holt-Andrews competed against the clock and himself, Allen surveyed the situation over Malcom’s shoulder for about two miles while trying to decide if he had enough energy for a finishing kick.

As the two reached the portion of the finishing alley where schools had set up their makeshift tents, with walls of spectators surrounding the scene, Allen made that move. He surged in front and held on until the wire.

“He led me the whole way. I didn’t think I had him, but I had just enough left,” Allen said. “About halfway through, I said if I catch him, I’m not catching him until the end. I kind of just made that my goal.”

Boothbay’s boys and Waynflete’s girls breezed to the Class C team titles. Sophia Canning of Waynflete (20:37.55) outkicked Hannah Austin of NYA in the girls’ race.

By finishing in the top half of the field, the Monmouth and St. Dom’s girls qualified for the state meet, also to be held at Twin Brook. Monmouth and Winthrop made the cut on the boys’ side.

Simpson shakes Shafer

Shafer led the way as the Gray-NG boys finished third and qualified for Class B state competition, but he couldn’t overcome Simpson’s mid-race burst to claim individual gold.

“The first mile I went out a little too fast, 5:10 or 5:15, was is really fast for this course. I definitely felt that in the second half of the race. Liam took off and I was just trying to hold on to my place in second or third,” Shafer said. “He wanted to make sure that I had no kick this week. My last 400 I kept checking and I could see people coming, so I was just trying to hold off as hard as I could.”

Simpson, meanwhile, wasn’t looking back, which left him completely unaware of his 21-second cushion.

“Last race I left it down to the last little bit and I couldn’t kick,” Simpson said. “I knew if I wanted to win today I’d have to gap him earlier in the race. I was dying. The last 800 or so was excruciating. I thought I was going to puke.”

Greely’s Kirstin Sandreuter, who missed the second half of the regular season with a heel injury, demonstrated herself fit with an 80-second win in the Class B girls’ event.

The Freeport girls and Cape Elizabeth boys captured team honors.

After review, Greyhounds advance

Then there was the peculiar case of Lisbon. Led by Kaylin Le in 28th and Bree Sautter in 30th, the MVC champions thought they had fallen just shy of Morse in pursuit of the seventh and final state transfer spot.

But coach Hank Fuller witnessed a Morse runner swinging her elbow into a Lisbon’s runner midsection several times at the finish of the race. After receiving confirmation from eyewitnesses that it happened elsewhere on the course, as well, he filed a protest.

Race officials determined that they didn’t have sufficient evidence to disqualify the runner or the Shipbuilders, since none of them saw the infraction. But after a conversation with Fuller, Morse coach Mike Rice went to the meet director and disallowed the runner’s time himself, essentially forfeiting his team’s state berth to the Greyhounds.

“Kudos to the Morse coaches for their guts. Those coaches don’t do that kind of thing. It’s not what they teach. It’s not their schtick,” Fuller said. “A lot of people knew what was going on, and the problem is that no referee saw it, so they can’t call it. It’s like a ball and strike. If you don’t see it, how can you call it?”

“I do hate to punish my whole team,” Rice said during the meeting.

In Class A, Ryan Cadorette of Thornton (17:00.6) and Kialeigh Marston of Bonny Eagle (19:29.30) were regional champions. Marston’s Scots won the team crown along with the Scarborough boys.

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