More than 40 mixed teams competed in the ‘A’ race Saturday at the Telstar Relays in Bethel. Monmouth Academy unofficially finished ninth.

Not bad, for having the minimum number of skiers available to compete in one of the most anticipated Nordic meets of the year.

Monmouth has an impressive 11 girls on the team this winter, but only two boys — senior Dylan Thombs and junior Sherman Spears.

The Mustangs’ combined team completed the approximate 12-kilometer distance in 47:03.

“We have not had any practices since last Monday, so our skiers were anxious to get out and ski,” Monmouth coach Chris Bryant said.

Gould and Leavitt were the only local schools to assemble a faster team than the Mustangs’ foursome.

Monmouth doesn’t roll off the tongue as a traditional skiing powerhouse in the manner of the Huskies and Hornets, but the Mustangs have been making tracks for several seasons. They had enough racers to compete as a team in the boys’ Class C meet for the first time in 2011. The girls’ numbers crossed that threshold in 2012.

Community support is in place, as well, as evidenced by the team’s recent trip to Fort Kent and Madawaska. Monmouth was in Aroostook County for four full days.

“Like most teams around, we’re enjoying the snow we have this year,” Bryant said. “We also were able to get in a good week of skiing on our trails around Monmouth Academy before the holiday break.”

Thombs is one of the top skiers in the state, having finished fifth and eighth in the two events at the 2013 Class C championship. Becki Bryant may be poised for similar results on the girls’ side this winter.

“The relays are a great way to start the season with a shorter race and a fun format,” Bryant said. “I think everyone enjoyed (Saturday), and I was very pleased with how everyone did. It was cold on the lungs, but otherwise we had great weather and great snow conditions.”

Try it, you’ll like it

Managers don’t get enough credit for the thankless, sometimes dirty work they do to keep their classmates outfitted and hydrated.

But there’s down time on the job, of course. Sometimes the students get restless and jump into practice to stay busy. And on rare occasions, if a coach is paying attention, he may discover a diamond in the rough.

That’s what happened to Mt. Blue Nordic skiing coach David Nordstrom. Student manager Sarita Crandall came along for the ride during the 2012-13 season. As the winter wore on, she tried on the skis and the sport for size a few times.

Nordstrom lost his manager and gained a racer in the process.

“She’s a senior, a good athlete who skied a few times and decided it was fun and decided to join us,” Nordstrom said.

Who knows? Crandall just might be the missing piece the Cougars needed. With reigning Class A freestyle champion Sarah Wade leading the charge, Mt. Blue could be a serious factor in the KVAC and state team battle if it can uncover some depth.

Mt. Blue made even greater offseason gains on its boys’ roster.

“We have six freshmen with experience and then three more students from just out of the woodwork,” Nordstrom said.

Austin shines at Spartan

Four local wrestlers posted top-three finishes in their class Saturday at the enormous Spartan Tournament in Sanford.

Mountain Valley freshman Caleb Austin dominated en route to the title at 113 pounds. Austin overwhelmed Andrew Lourenco of North Providence, R.I., 12-1, in the final. He also pinned Darren LaPointe of Marshwood in the semis.

The Falcons’ Jake Thornton and Brandon Gill were third at 126 and 132, respectively. Thornton shut out Patrick Eddy of North Smithfield, R.I., 7-0, before earning a forfeit victory over Liam Howland of North Providence to clinch the consolation bracket. Gill blanked Marshwood’s Eric Glidden, 4-0.

Lisbon’s Zach Stevens also ruled the consolation bracket at 145. The two-time state champion pinned Marshwood’s Shamus McManus to close it out.

Mountain Valley was seventh and Lisbon 16th out of the 25 teams in attendance. Marshwood won the team title.

On schedule

Baring any further weather complications, the Oxford Hills girls’ basketball team actually might have a consistent schedule in the following weeks. That will be a welcome addition to the season after a month full of starts and stops for the Vikings.

“They’re just anxious to play basketball right now,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. “They’re sick of hitting each other in practice and hearing me yell at them.”

The Vikings are 4-3, including back-to-back wins this weekend over Cony and Brewer. That has put Oxford Hills No. 8 in the Eastern Class A Heal Point standings.

Oxford Hills started the year with just three games before Christmas. That included some long layoffs between games. Since Christmas, the Vikings have played four games, winning three straight after a loss to Lewiston.

“The first part of year has been crazy with the weather,” Pelletier said. “Just getting in a rhythm and playing some games in a row is going to help us.”

Oxford Hills’ schedule picks with three games this week and another three the following week. That might be just the consistent kind of work the Vikings need to earn a playoff spot.

In addition to hosting Edward Little and Mt. Blue this week, the Vikings play at Mt. Ararat. The following week is even tougher with Lewiston, Messalonskee and Lawrence in succession.

“That’s what this team needs,” said Pelletier. “They need that experience out there and those kinds of close games. The more and more they do that, the more comfortable they’ll be in that situation.”


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