AUGUSTA — Running the biggest meet so far this season on their home course paid off in a big way for the Cony boys cross country team.

Led by Jacob Pelletier’s third-place finish, the Rams took three of the top nine spots to win the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship with 51 points, beating Lincoln Academy (68), Morse (74), Erskine (129) and Nokomis (132).

Lincoln Academy was the Class B girls champion with 55 points, edging Cony (57) while Waterville (81), Maranacook (87) and Morse (94) rounded out the top five. In Class A, Brunswick (51) took the boys title ahead of Hampden and Bangor (67 apiece), which were led by a pair of record-setting runners in Abbott Valentine and Dan McCarthy, respectively. The A girls title went to Bangor (52), which had the race winner in Megan Randall, ahead of Brunswick (64), Camden Hills (68) and Mt. Blue (70).

“Every boy that ran had their personal best on their home course,” said Cony coach Shawn Totman, who also got a sixth-place finish from Sam Goldey and a ninth-place finish from Sam Coffin en route to the championship, the Rams’ first KVAC title since 1992. “I’ve been seeing a little bit more of a focus with these boys in the last few weeks, and a drive to them every day. I kind of felt like everything was coming together at the right time.”

Lincoln Academy was the Class B girls champion with 55 points, edging Cony (57) while Waterville (81), Maranacook (87) and Morse (94) rounded out the top five. In Class A, Brunswick (51) took the boys title ahead of Hampden and Bangor (67 apiece), which were led by a pair of record-setting runners in Abbott Valentine and Dan McCarthy, respectively. The A girls title went to Bangor (52), which had the race winner in Megan Randall, ahead of Brunswick (64), Camden Hills (68) and Mt. Blue (70).

Medomak Valley’s Connor Daigle took the Class B boys title at 16:52.7, and was the third finisher overall (Class A and B runners ran together). He came in ahead of Leavitt’s Logan Ouellette (17:10.7) and Cony’s Pelletier (17:57.4), who broke 18 minutes for the first time.

“I’m so stoked about how everyone ran,” Pelletier said. “We knew we’ve been working hard the last few weeks, and we were just working for these next three weeks. … We just work hard every single day, not just individually but as a team.”

Waterville’s Abby Williams took first in the B girls race, completing the hilly course in 21:21.9 to edge Cony’s Grace Kirk (21:45.1).

“I felt so strong throughout the whole race,” said Williams, who was fourth overall. “I was very nervous, because the last few races I hadn’t done my best. … Today, there was something different. I felt very prepared, I felt rested. Towards the first mile, I felt strong. Towards the end of the second mile, I felt amazing.”

Edward Little’s Payton Bell, 375, center, and Bangor’s Megan Randall were early leaders during KVAC cross country championship Saturday at Cony Middle and High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Kirk finished just behind and was one of several local runners faring well, including Winslow’s Addison Pellerin (third, 22:02.0), Maranacook’s Lina Martinez-Nocito (fourth, 22:14.9), Waterville’s Beatrice Beale Tate (fifth, 22:17.5) and Gardiner’s Ashlyn Poulin (sixth, 22:29.9).

“My theory going into all of my races is just to take all of the seeds, all of the races that I’ve kind of dissected for the past week and a half and just throw it out the window,” Kirk said. “When it comes to it, it’s championship season, and everybody wants to win. So those times don’t matter. This is the time when people drop whole minutes off of their PRs.”

Case in point, the Class A boys race, where Hampden’s Valentine and Bangor’s McCarthy both broke the Cony course record. Valentine at 16:11.0 edged McCarthy by three seconds, both breaking Lisandro Berry-Gaviria’s old mark of 16:18.5.

“There’s one downhill and I was able to edge past him, and get enough of a lead that I barely kicked it out at the end in front of him,” Valentine said. “Dan’s kick is definitely the best in the state, I would say. … I was definitely really worried about when he was going to be able to pull (it) out at the finish, but I knew I could at least match him.”

McCarthy said he didn’t feel he approached the course as well as he could have.

Mt. Blue’s Cyrus Evans races in KVAC cross country championship Saturday at Cony Middle and High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I went out hard, I didn’t actually know how hard I was going. I think I underestimated the hill a little bit, it’s been a while since I’ve run at Cony,” he said. “But I think I actually used the hill to my advantage, put some ground on him. But he ate up the downhills, caught up to me on the downhills, and he got me in the end.”

Despite the record-breaking efforts, it was Brunswick taking the team title. Joey Valliere, Eli Palmer and Dolan Pols finished sixth, seventh and eighth, allowing the Dragons’ depth to decide the championship.

“It’s pretty incredible. We’ve never won before,” said Valliere, whose team also got top-20 finishes from Miles Logan (14th) and Felix Battle (16th). “I thought there was a chance, but I’ve been too optimistic before and had to learn the hard way. I’m just really thankful that my team was able to put forth the best effort, and it paid off.”

In the girls race, Randall guided the Rams to their second straight KVAC A title with a winning time of 20:18.4. Sadie Harrow (sixth) and Katie McCarthy (seventh) joined her in the top 10.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Randall said. “I know this is a tough course, there are quite a lot of hills. I just wanted to try my best. … On the hill, a lot of people told me I was in front. I just tried to keep going.”

Edward Little’s Payton Bell, who was second at 21:08, had to grind out her race despite a cramp in her side.

“I just had to mentally push through it,” she said. “For me, I think about form and breathing. Some people try to think of a song in their head. I just space out as much as I can, and just run.”

Camden Hills’ Jenna VanRyn (21:09.5) and Cassie Middleton (21:52.0) were third and fifth, respectively, while Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles was fourth at 21:30.7.


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