The Mt Blue senior won the Class A boys’ cross country state championship by running the fastest time (15 minutes, 47.33 seconds) of any of the six state championship races on the 5-kilometer course at Troy Howard Middle School on Saturday..

Barber admitted that as he neared the finish line, thoughts of the possible ways he could mess up flashed through his mind.

Then he finished.

“I was like, wow, that’s it; nothing can change from this point,” Barber said. “It was kind of a weird feeling — like, I did it.”

Barber’s state championship was the highlight of the local boys cross country teams. In the Class C boys’ race, Winthrop’s Jacob Hickey ran the best time of his career and placed second to George Stevens Academy’s John Hassett.

Barber didn’t immediately hop out of bed Saturday morning, all ready to win a state championship.

“Well, I woke up, and I was like, ‘Ah, I’m really tired,’ so I went back to sleep. And I went back to sleep again,” Barber said with a laugh. “And then I think at that point, I was like, ‘All right, I just got to clear my head and not get too stressed, and, you know, just go from here.’

“I had (winning a state title) in the back of my head, but I wasn’t set on it, because you never know.”

That delayed start to the day wasn’t a precursor to the way Barber raced Saturday. In fact, he went against his personal norm and took the lead shortly after the mile mark, and held on from there.

Barber said he saw an opening and seized it, but had no idea that it would work out as well as it did.

“I generally like to (make a move) toward the end,” Barber said. “But I was like, ‘If I can get the lead … and push the pace, that will be different, that might get me to run faster than I usually do.

“It was not like something I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to work,’ but it was like, ‘This is a chance, let’s see if it works.’”

A faster start was part of the plan, Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg said. Saturday was Barber’s third time racing the Belfast course this season. On Oct. 1, Barber started slowly and finished 10th. Last week, he started fast and won the A North regional title.

“It was like, ‘You went out that much faster last week. You’re strong. You can definitely do this. You can say with the guys in the front and still end up winning the race,’” Cullenberg said.

“I’m kind of in awe of what he was able to accomplish

Barber led for most of the race, but his lead was never safe. He said he felt the other runners the entire time, and as he neared the finish line, everyone was shouting that Mt. Ararat’s Cam Meier was right behind him. Meier made a strong final bid, but finished nearly four seconds behind Barber.

“The whole time, I felt them behind me. I was pretty scared,” Barber said. “But toward the top, I was like, ‘This might actually happen.’ They’re still yelling at me, they’re saying, ‘They’re right behind you, they’re going to catch you.’ Until I crossed that line, I didn’t really feel like I had it.”

Edward Little’s Jacob Gamache was the tri-county area’s next highest finisher, coming in sixth (16:09.48). Next was Lewiston’s Abbas Muktar, who took 24th (16:59.51).

Mt. Blue placed fifth as a team.

The cream rose to the top early in the Class C boys race, as Hassett, Hickey and Maine Coast’s Tucker Pierce all ran three-wide, far ahead of the rest of the field. Hickey said that Hassett pulled away from the other two about about the mile mark.

“I tried to stay with him the rest of the race,” Hickey said. “I kept him in sight, but I could never quite catch him. But I think I did pretty well.”

Hickey, the MVC and C South region champion, finished in a personal-record 16:10.90. He hopes his season isn’t over.

“I’ve been training all year, pretty happy with that,” Hickey said. “I’ll see if that time gets me to New Englands. Hopefully it will.”

Telstar’s Gaelan Boyle-Wright was the area’s next highest finisher, placing 29th with a time of 18:14.14. Next was St. Dominic’s Jose Torres in 35th (18:26.66), which led the Saints to a sixth-place finish.

“I told them this morning that I thought, you know, seventh, maybe sixth if they had a really good race,” St. Dom’s co-coach Josh Brown said. “And they got sixth. So for the first time in 11 years that the boys team’s been to this meet, to come in sixth, I’m very happy.

In the Class B race, Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere beat out Freeport’s Henry Jaques by 12 second to claim the title.

Jason Labbe, the only local runner in the B boys race, finished 41st (17:57.54).


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