FARMINGTON — The night before the cross country state championships, Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg had a familiar conversation with Tucker Barber.

“You are planning on, like, talking to some college coaches for running, right?” Cullenberg said to Barber.

At that point, Barber was a state champion Nordic skier, having won the 5-kilometer classical race earlier in 2016. Less than 24 hours later, Barber added the Class A boys’ cross country state championship to his dossier by running the 5K race in 15:47.33.

That time was the fastest of the day that the fastest high school runners in Maine met in Belfast. It also was a personal record for Barber, by 10 seconds.

“I’m kind of in awe of what he was able to accomplish,” Cullenberg said.

Barber’s crowning achievement came from changing his mentality. His strategy had always been based on endurance, but he and Cullenberg decided he should try a more aggressive early in the state race.

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Barber took the lead about a third of the way through the state race. And while he spent the remainder of the race looking back, he held off all the other runners.

“I generally like to do it towards the end, but I was like, if I can get the lead in the next mile, push the pace, that will be different, that might get me to run faster than I usually do,” Barber said.

To go along with his state championship, Barber also won KVAC and A North region titles in 2016.

So which will it be, Tucker, cross country of Nordic skiing?

“That’s a tough question. Each has their own thing,” Barber said. “I like Nordic because I’ve been doing it for a long time, I like the snow, I like to go fast down the hills.

“But, in its own right, cross country has its amazing (attributes), you got to give the whole time and you really get to see who can push it. And so they’re two different things, and I like them both for different reasons.”


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