MANCHESTER, N.H. —  Lewiston coach TJ Niles admits he always wishes his team could run faster.

So after Saturday’s 79th  New England Cross Country Championships at Deeryfield Park, he couldn’t help but wonder what could have been.

But, considering his Blue Devils endured a cold, windy day and a rocky and narrow course, he was pleased that Lewiston produced a solid performance.

Lewiston’s boys’ team finished eighth overall and was the top Maine team. The Blue Devils featured a number of personal bests, as well.

“Everybody stepped it up,” Niles said. “I was happy with the effort that everyone put in.”

Still, it was a challenging day for the Blue Devils. Chilly temperatures and a packed course that was narrow and rocky made for difficult running at times. Niles said it was hard for some of his runner to pass other athletes, and a couple rolled ankles.

“We did well for the most part,” Niles said. “A couple of our guys got boxed pretty bad. It was such a packed race. The second mile was really tough. There were a lot of rocks. Two guys rolled their ankles.”

In the boys’ race, Telstar’s Josef Holt-Andrews was third overall. He finished with a time of 15:12.9. Gray-New Gloucester’s Will Shafer was the next top Mainer in 17th. He had a time of 15:53.6. Mt. Blue’s Josh Horne was 38th in a time of 16:14.2. Teammate Dan Lesko was 95th in 16:43.2.

Trever Hopper, of Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, won the race in 15:08.5. Darien, Connecticut’s Alex Ostberg was second in 15:11.0

Lewiston’s top finisher was Isaiah Harris in 51st. He finished in 16:20.3. Three other Blue Devils were close behind. Farhan Abdillahi was 66th with a time of 16:30.0. Mohamed Mohamed was 71st in 16:32.2 followed by Mohamed Awil in 76th with a time of 16:36.6. Lewiston’s fifth runner was Osman Doorow. He got separated from the group and finished 143rd with a time of 17:04.7.

“Our average time was still really good,” Niles said. “Our fifth runner got really boxed and finished 50 spots further back than I wanted him too. But the team’s average time was still what it was when we won the Festival of Champions.”

Two other Lewiston runners that finished were Dominique Sepulveda in 252nd and Jacob Folster in 254th.

Lewiston got personal bests from Harris, Abdillahi, Mohamed and Folster.

“Looking over the state results, I thought we might be a fifth or sixth-place team,” Niles said. “I was hoping for that and on a perfect day, maybe we could do better than that.”

LaSalle Academy of Rhode Island won the boys’ meet with 99 points. Ridgefield was second with 102. Bishop Hendricken, of Rhode Island, was third with 128. Lewiston had 292 points. Cape Elizabeth was the next best Maine team in 11th. Ellsworth was 21st followed by Scarborough in 25th and Bangor 29th.

Some of the other top Maine runners included Ellsworth’s Brayden Beardsely in 32nd. Cape’s Peter Doane was 41st. Ellsworth’s Robert Looker was 82nd and Thornton’s Ryan Cadorette also finished in the top 100 with a 94th-place finish.

In the girls’ race, Lewiston’s Farhiyo Aden also ran a personal best. She finished 110th overall with a time of 19:58.9.

“She did 15 seconds better than she did on the Belfast course,” Niles said. “I was expecting her to get under 20 minutes for the first time. For the girls, our goal was the state meet. So she was well past her peak. So you never know with a kid like that if they’re still going to have anything in them.”

The top Maine female was Greely’s Kirstin Sandreuter. She finished fourth overall with a time of 17:48.6

Hannah Debalsi of Staples High School in Connecticut, won the race in 17:15.8, a new course record. Claire Howlett of Westbill, Conn., was second in 17:39.5. Autumn Eastman of Champlain, Vermont was third.

Other Maine finishers included Bonny Eagle’s Mary Szatkowski in 44th, followed by Ellsworth’s Aleta Looker (48th), Kiera Murray of Cheverus (53), Massabesic’s Angel Waters (60), South Portland’s Shannon Conley (63), MDI’s Isabel Erickson (69) and Waylon Henggeler (70), Marshwood’s Maddy Doyle (73), Hampden’s Liz Labun (74),  and Bonny Eagle’s Kristen Glennie (97).

Coe Brown Academy of New Hampshire won the girls’ race with 78 points. Barrington, Rhode Island was second with 99 followed by La Salle Academy of Rhode Island, with 108 in third.

The top Maine female team was MDI, finishing 12th overall. Bonny Eagle was 18th and Massabesic finished 20th.


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