WATERVILLE — If Olivia Tiner was even the slightest bit exhausted after winning the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B girls cross country title, she didn’t show it. Moments after crossing the finish line at Quarry Road Trails, the Winslow High School senior stood near it, cheering on every other runner as they approached the end of the race.

It was Tiner’s way of saying thank you to all the girls she’s competed against for four years of high school cross country. They pushed her to excel, she said, and she wanted to do the same.

Leavitt’s Margo Kenyon (120) is helped from the ground by teammate Abby Marston (122) after placing second in the KVAC Class B cross country championship Saturday at Quarry Road in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I came to run my best. I was more nervous for this one because I knew it would be my last. With everything else going on, run every race like it’s your last, but especially this one,” Tiner said.

Tiner repeated as KVAC B champ, running the hilly course in 20:33.22, 32 seconds faster than her seed time.

Earlier in the day, Waterville freshman Joshua Way won the boys title in 17:14.01, a personal record.

“I just ran as a hard as I could from the gun. That’s different than what I usually do. I usually pace myself. I just felt really good today,” Way said.

The meet also served as a qualifier for the upcoming state championships. The Morse boys took the team title, with Lincoln and Erskine also qualifying for the boys state meet, scheduled for November 11 at Saxl Park in Bangor.

Waterville took the girls team title, with Morse second and Leavitt third. Those three teams move on to compete in the girls state meet Nov. 14 at Saxl Park.

Tiner entered Saturday’s race seeded second behind Leavitt’s Margo Kenyon. For most of the first lap, Tiner was content to let Kenyon lead. Tiner overtook Kenyon on a short but steep climb right before the runners came into view of the finish line and the start of the second lap, back up the long hill.

“She’s an amazing runner, and I knew she was a force to be reckoned with coming into this,” Tiner said of Kenyon. “I saw her name at the top and was like, ‘All right, Olivia. You’ve got to go today.’ I knew to let her go out first and set the pace. I didn’t expect her to be so close to me when I went around her. I was actually really happy for her. I was like ‘You go, girl! Let’s push it!'”

Once she took the lead, Tiner knew she had to set the pace. She pulled away over the second lap, telling herself this was her race to take, finishing 43 seconds ahead of second-place Kenyon (21:16.88). Oceanside’s Maria Protheroe was third, and with Kenyon qualifying for states with her Leavitt team, earned the second individual bid to states, along with Tiner.

With teams running close to home this season, a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tiner has begun to treat Quarry Road as a home course. Saturday’s race was her third on the course this season.

“My first time running this course, I made the mistake of going too fast running up the hill for the first loop, and I got burned out, and it was really rough. The second time I fixed that and ran better,” Tiner said. “Coming into this, I was like ‘Olivia, you know what you’ve got to do. You know your strategy.’ People were yelling to me that this is like your home course, and that really hyped me up a lot. It kind of made me feel like I had something more to defend, not just the title.”

Way also felt as if his familiarity with the course worked in his favor.

“When you know the course inside and out, you know where you need to slow down. You know where you can go fast. You just know the course better than everybody else. You have a better understanding of it,” Way said. “The hills actually felt easier. I’ve been working a lot on hills, so that contributed to it.”

Leavitt’s Margo Kenyon (120) placed second place in the KVAC Class B country championship Saturday at Quarry Road in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Way was in control of the race from the gun. He finished his first lap in approximately eight and a half minutes, with a sizable lead. Although it looked easy for Way, Waterville coach Ted Brown said it was not.

“A few places in that race, there were kids that went by him, from what he just told me. For a while there, he wasn’t sure if he’d come out on top or not,” Brown said. “He had a PR today, a monster PR. I just think it’s because we got him ready for today. We did a little bit less this week than we would on a normal week. We rested him on Wednesday. It was a tough day to practice Wednesday, so we cancelled practice for a lot of reasons, not just for Josh, and I think that helped.”

Seeded ninth, Leavitt’s Ouellette said he ran aggressively to claim one of the two state championship meet spots reserved for individuals. Ouellete placed second in 17:51.35, seven seconds ahead of Liam Scanlon of Morse, and 43 seconds better than his seed time.

“I wanted to race this race a little differently. Usually I would go out a little slower and then speed up progressively, but I knew this course was really my strength. So I went out hard and I went out quick, and I really dominated more than I thought I would,” Ouellette said.

The hilly course played to his strengths, Ouellette said. Saturday morning’s race was his first at Quarry Road.

“The first (lap), you try to keep it really steady and really fast as you’re going up, and you use that downhill to your advantage. The second time coming around, you have to race your race. If you feel tired, you should try going a little bit faster than what you think you can go,” Ouellette said.

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