AUGUSTA — While the boys side of the Mountain Valley Conference cross country championships stuck to the script Saturday, the girls portion of the event was anything but predictable.

Boothbay senior Will Perkins dominated the University of Maine at Augusta course for the top honors individually, leading a parade of top Seahawks finishers to their seventh straight MVC team title. But where the girls were concerned it was a green and white kind of day. Spruce Mountain senior Bailey Coates emerged from the woods with the lead en route to her first MVC championship, pacing a pack of Winthrop Ramblers who were determined to make history of their own. Led by top-five finishes from Jillian Schmelzer (second) and Madison Forgue (fifth), Winthrop secured its first MVC championship in program history.

“We were in it today,” said Forgue, a junior. “This was the goal we had all season. This was the year. This was the chance we had to finally win it all. We’ve been talking about this day since Day 1 of preseason, and we just knew what we all needed to do.”

The Ramblers nipped perennial contender Monmouth Academy by two points for the championship, 41-43. Boothbay finished third, with Richmond and Oak Hill completing the top five in team scoring.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said the senior Schmelzer, a first-year cross-country runner who is the reigning MVC 100-, 200- and 400-meter champion in outdoor track. “This was definitely a realistic goal for us this year. We’ve worked really hard for it, and today it became a reality.”

Coates, who missed the first part of the season after having her wisdom teeth removed, became the first Spruce Mountain runner ever to win the MVC championship. She said the race took shape for her after the halfway point. Boothbay’s Glory Blethen, who finished second to her older sister Faith Blethen in this event a year ago, emerged from the woods with the early race lead but faded to a seventh-place finish.

Monmouth’s Kaitlin Hunt finished third. Richmond’s Leah Wescott was fourth in a 52-runner field. Holly Hunt of Monmouth came in sixth.

“I hit the 1-mile mark and I wasn’t tired at all,” said Coates, who covered the layout in 21:59.3, the only runner to clock in under 22 minutes. “I actually smiled at my coach as I went by, and I was like, ‘I got this.’ I was with another girl, and when I got to the 2-mile mark and feeling good, so I just went for it.”

Senior Maya Deming and freshman Sage Fortin finished 11th and 12th, respectively, for Winthrop. Alexis Emery was the final Rambler scorer in 19th — just 0.3 seconds ahead of Madison’s Olivia Clough.

After being beaten by Monmouth throughout the regular-meet season — until a one-point win last week in a meet at Lisbon — Winthrop knew it needed a big team performance Saturday.

“We didn’t talk about that much this week. We just let it ride and continued to do our thing,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “We just wanted to have the races we knew we could have and be proud of the outcome regardless. Madison Forgue busted one out and beat Monmouth’s (Holly Hunt), which was huge for us.

“I’m so happy for them. I’ve had a lot of teams where we’ve been on the other side of this.”

Madison’s Peyton Estes (eighth), Hall-Dale’s Olivia Bean (ninth) and Boothbay’s Emerson Harrison all recorded finishes in the top 10.

After finishing third in this race a year ago, Perkins said his offseason training — and the school’s introduction of an indoor track program last winter — provided exactly what he needed to win the boys race in a time of 17:27.5, nearly 23 seconds ahead of runner-up Aidan Laviolette of Lisbon.

“That really kind of helped,” Perkins said. “I was competing with kids who were a minute or so ahead of me, so that was the mental push I needed. In the first race of the season, I PR’d by like 40 seconds, so it was a big leap at the start. I just tried to stay consistent and keep working.”

Winthrop freshman James Cognata was third, with Joe Crocker of Monmouth and Blaine Wilkins of Dirigo completing the top five finishers.

The Seahawks earned a whopping 29-point win for the team title over Lisbon. Dirigo, Winthrop and Monmouth finished third through fifth, respectively. Boothbay runners took five of the top 16 spots in the race and seven of the top 21.

Jacob Butterfield of Mt. Abram, Nathan Chatterton of Boothbay and Dirigo’s Jake Ellis finished sixth through eighth. Winthrop seniors Loal Vance and Zak St. Germain finished ninth and 10th, respectively, in the field of 86.


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