After all, many competitors consider the real winners to be those lucky few among them who get to pick out a pair of crazy skiing tights during the traditional post-race raffle.

Nevertheless, the event is one of the most anticipated of the cross country season. 

“This sets the pace for the season,” Telstar junior co-captain Gaelan Boyle-Wight said. “It really gets everyone excited about the skiing season and just skiing in general.”

With over 20 schools represented, it’s a chance for racers to see how they stack up against some of the competitors they will be facing when the stakes are much higher later in the season. But it also sets the tone for what is one of the most communal of high school sports

“It brings everyone together,” Telstar junior co-captain Marta Opie said. “It’s really fun, and it’s a huge tradition.”

For the relays, schools designate their top four boys and top four girls, then assign them to two teams of four racers who compete in one of two wave races, with each team alternating boy-girl-boy-girl. Each leg is 3 kilometers long.


Gould Academy won the “A” race consisting of the top racers. Maine Coast Waldorf was second, Mt. Blue third.

Gould’s quartet of Ben Alford, Izzy Chase, Marcus Wentworth and Steph Nicols finished in 30:38.7, a little less than four seconds ahead of Maine Coast Waldorf’s foursome.

“We’ve been skiing for over three weeks now and working on a lot of stuff, so to just see it coming all together is great,” Gould coach Jeremy Nellis said.

So that no one is left out, the event also includes an individual race for those who fall outside of the designated top eight for each school. For some of those racers, Saturday was not only an introduction to the season, but to cross country racing.

“We saw a lot of younger kids making some improvements. For a couple of new kids, this was their first race ever,” Nellis said. “Winning is obviously amazing, but it’s great to see all of the other kids out there.”

For Mt. Blue, which swept the boys’ and girls’ Class A title last year, the race gave a hint that they will once again be a force in 2017. The Cougars showed their depth with two of the top nine teams, led by the quartet of Tucker Barber, Julia Ramsey, Sam Smith and Meg Charles, which edged Maranacook for third with a time of 32 minutes flat.


Mt. Blue coach Claire Polfus said that even though the boys’ and girls’ teams compete separately during the season, the team bonding that can happen at the relays serves everyone well in training throughout the season.

“It’s a fun opportunity for them to race together and get into the season,” she said. 

And thanks to Mother Nature, this year was especially enjoyable for the hosts from Telstar, who didn’t have to almost literally move mountains, as they have in warmer and rainier years’ past, to get the course ready.

“Last year, we had to shovel quite a bit to get everything ready,” Opie said. “This year, it was perfect … such great skiing.”

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