Edward Little’s Payton Bell passes by a roped off area, which in previous years would have held back many cheering fans, on her way to a fourth-place finish at the spectator-less Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cross country meet Saturday, October 31, 2020, at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — Setting a goal for the season didn’t take long for the Bangor girls cross country team.

“Bangor girls cross country has never, in its history of running, won a KVAC championship,” Erin McCarthy said. “This year, our team is insane, and that’s been our goal from pretty much the beginning of the season.”

The Rams hadn’t won one. They have now. With McCarthy’s first-place finish at 20:25 leading the way, Bangor totaled 36 points to beat Mt. Ararat (91), Brunswick (107) and Camden Hills (114) for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A title Saturday at Cony High School.

“It’d be crazy to put that first plaque on the wall,” McCarthy said before the results were finalized. “That’d be a really good feeling.”

There was more good news for Bangor, which had runners finish fourth through seventh en route to taking the boys championship with 37 points, beating Mt. Ararat (56), Brunswick (57) and Hampden (96).

In both races, the top four teams qualified for the Class A championships, as did the top two individuals who weren’t on qualifying teams. In the boys race, those spots went to Messalonskee’s Dylan Flewelling (12th) and Cony’s Casey Gallant (13th). In the girls race, the individual berths went to Edward Little’s Payton Bell (fourth) and Cony’s Grace Kirk (fifth).

“We had a lot of faith in the training that we had put forward so far,” said Bangor’s Dan McCarthy, who was fourth overall at 17:07, followed immediately by teammates Gordon Doore, Fritz Oldenburg and James Fahey. “This could be our last race of the season, we have a few seniors, it could be their last race. … With these strange circumstances, we just figured we’d put everything out there.”

With COVID-19 precautions in mind, the event had an unusual structure. The boys and girls meets were run in separate South- and North-based races in the morning and afternoon, meaning morning finishers had to wait to see how the afternoon unfolded, and afternoon finishers had to check their times against the morning results to see where they stood, and how their teams did.

Cony’s Bri Harriman runs on her way to a 27th-place finish during the KVAC Class A cross country championship Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In the girls event, however, Bangor, with Erin McCarthy setting the pace, had a pretty good idea it would be tough to beat.

“Cony’s always been my favorite course, just because I love hills,” she said. “I feel like that’s strange to say, but I don’t know, they make you feel super accomplished when you’re done with them.”

She was 10 seconds ahead of teammate Megan Randall, who ran at Scarborough before moving to Bangor before this season.

“It was a great race for the team,” said Randall, who also saw teammates Sadie Harrow (ninth) and Carly Hayward (10th) finish in the top 10. “Erin actually, during the race, was cheering me on. I could hear her, and that helped pull me along in the race.”

In the chillier morning race, EL’s Bell overcame Cony’s Kirk late to post the fastest time at 21:30. When Bell realized she had a chance, her competitiveness took over.

“Grace was first the whole entire race, and around the end I passed her,” Bell said. “I could just tell she was a little tired, and I just kept going. … At that point, it’s more ‘I don’t care how I feel, I’m just going to keep going.’ ”

Cony’s Jacob Pelletier, left, and Messalonskee’s Caden Cote race during the KVAC Class A cross country championship Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Kirk’s time of 21:32 was a personal best, however, and she soon found out it was enough for states.

“I can’t really complain,” she said. “I was probably around 30, 40 feet in front of her going around Hodgkins Field, and then I tried to run the downhills as best as I could, but once we got back up into the hills in the last mile or so she started to get closer and closer. Right when we came out of the woods it was neck-and-neck the whole time.”

In the boys race, first place went to Brunswick’s Tyler Patterson, who finished with a time of 16:46 that wouldn’t be topped. In doing so he edged Mt. Ararat’s Grady Satterfield, with whom he’s developed a friendly rivalry.

“It was great. I knew going in it was going to be against Grady. … Since sixth grade, we’ve been battling. He’s gotten me a bunch of times, I’ve gotten him some times,” Patterson said. “I really executed my plan well. I’m psyched. This has been a four-year process for me, improving. This is so great. I’m so happy right now.”

Satterfield’s second-place finish for the morning became the second-place finish overall at 16:58. He ran despite finding out in the morning that his heartbeat was faster than usual.

“I put in a good effort. It was unfortunate that I just didn’t have that next gear,” he said. “I’ll just take it easy over the next couple of days, try to get things back to normal. … I think with a little bit of rest and recovery, then I’ll be fine.”

Mt. Ararat was one-upped by Bangor in the afternoon races, but the Eagles’ depth was still on display even after champion runner Lisandro Berry-Gaviria’s graduation.

“We had the mentality of ‘We’re going to win,’ ” Satterfield said. “I think our team has the potential to be even better than it was last year, in terms of depth.”

First place in the afternoon went to Hampden’s Abbott Valentine (17:05), who was third overall.

“It was really the kind of race I like to run,” he said. “It was a very, very slow first mile, we came through at about 5:15, which I think was very good for me, because I’m really able to pour it on in that third mile.”

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