AUGUSTA — Just being able to hold a meet on this day was a sheer miracle.

Twenty-four hours before the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cross country championships, Cony High School, which would host the meet, was pitch-black after losing power. Later, torrential rain turned the field around the school into an ocean, massive wind gusts blew down trees throughout multiple spots on the course.

“I came out here last night at about 5, and I said, ‘Boy, I don’t know if we can pull this off,’” said Cony head coach Shawn Totman. “There were trees that had to be cut up across the trail, and with how wet it was, we had to hope Mother Nature and gravity would do its work and help dry it for us.

A two-hour delay to allow the course to dry more — and hard work from KVAC officials clearing the course — made all the difference. The conditions were far from perfect, but there was little discernible difference from your average muddy, post-rain race on a relatively warm mid-October afternoon in Augusta.

The Hampden Academy (Class A) and Lincoln Academy (Class B/C) boys took first-place honors, scoring a respective 48 and 71 points to beat out Brunswick and Morse. On the girls side, Bangor racked up an impressive 33 points to top Camden Hills (60 points) in Class A, and Lincoln Academy earned 34 points to runner-up Maranacook’s 35 to win the B/C meet.

Individual race winners on the boys side were Leavitt’s Logan Ouellette (17:25.1) in Class B/C and Hampden’s Charlie Collins (17:05.3) in Class A. Payton Bell was the Class A girls winner with a time of 21:06.5 and Waterville’s Abby Williams was the B/C winner with a time of 20:34.7.


The conditions on the trails, Williams said, were solid aside from one culvert midway through the race. There were some slips, as often happens in races that follow a rainy day, but the Waterville senior was ultimately able to power through it to win the B/C race by a comfortable 36.6 -second margin and the overall race by 31.8 seconds.

Edward Little’s Payton Bell runs during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cross country championships Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“They weren’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Williams, who repeated as KVAC B/C girls champ after previously winning it a year ago, said of the course conditions. “There was that one wet spot where I kind of lost my footing, but other than that, it was pretty good.”

Known for its hills, the Cony course was not an easy one to traverse as the wetter surface made it even more challenging. Yet the hilly trails were far from unreasonable, and a few things Williams has been emphasizing in her recent strength training powered her through to the finish.

“I’ve been focusing on a lot of hill running and a lot of strength training, and those two things help me a lot as I go up those hills and down them, too,” Williams said. “There are a lot of hills on this course, but I like hills, and I was ready for it. It all worked out.”

Other strong area performers on the girls side were Mt. Blue’s Nora McCourt (seventh place class A, 22:58.4) and Natalie McCarthy (12th), and Lewiston’s Annie Spurr (14th). Miles Logan (18:00.3) and Henri McCourt (18:03.4) finished a respective fifth and sixth in the Class A boys race for the Cougars, just ahead of Lewiston’s Adam Bilodeau. Oxford Hills’ Lucas Hutchinson placed 12th.

Mt. Blue finished third in both the boys and girls Class A races with a respective 97 and 103 points. On the girls side, Edward Little was sixth, Lewiston finished eighth and Oxford Hills placed 10th. The Leavitt girls finished eighth in Class B/C.

On the boys side, Edward Little placed seventh in Class A, just ahead of Lewiston. Oxford Hills finished 10th. Leavitt took third place in Class B/C, with Ouellette’s victory and Gabe Durazo’s third-place finish helping the cause.

With the race in doubt, a contingency plan would have seen the meet pushed to Monday had course conditions made running the trails untenable for Saturday. A weekend meet, though, was far more appealing to Williams and Totman, the latter of whom was still in amazement that the event was happening as it unfolded.

“It was still wet, but when I got here this morning, I knew there was no reason we couldn’t have a race,” Totman said. “I’m just amazed how much it was able to improve, and it’s great for the kids that so many people put in the work to make sure it happened today.”

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