AUGUSTA — Winthrop senior James Cognata said he is more of a track guy but runs cross country to stay in shape.

Cognata applied his track skills and used a last-minute kick down the stretch to edge Mt. Abram’s Jeff Warnock and win the Mountain Valley Conference’s individual boys cross country championship at the University of Maine at Augusta’s 3.1-mile course on Saturday.

Winthrop junior Haley Williams also claimed first place in the MVC girls individual championship race with a winning time of 22:00.4.

Runners describe the course as soaked and muddy in some spots after Friday’s deluge swept across Maine.

The Ramblers also won the overall boys championship with 44 points thanks to Cognata’s (18:14.8) sudden burst of energy and third- and eighth-place finishes from teammates Christopher Pottle (18:45.3) and Jonathan Wagner (19:54.8), respectively.

The Boothbay-Wiscassett (58) boys finished second to the Ramblers. Richmond (79) was third, followed by Lisbon (106), Mt. Abram (113) and Spruce Mountain (114).


Cognata’s speed certainly helped him win the race.

“I really do this to stay in shape,” said Cognata, who runs the 800 and 400 meters and occasionally the mile in indoor and outdoor track, “and the kick always comes in to play in the end. I knew I was going to pace right off (Warnock) and let him lead the race, and hopefully it came down to the kick. I was sick the whole week. I am happy I could pull through on this one.”

Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel wore a huge smile on his face as he spoke about the Ramblers’ performance, especially Cognata and Williams.

“Couldn’t be happier for (Cognata),” Van Tassel said. “Both kids (are) super hard workers. For them to get it right today, which is the day we wanted to get it right on — but they are also still hungry. They are ready for the next couple of weekends. It is a good step moving forward. We are super happy.”

Like Cognata, Warnock (18:23.1) was also ill the past week.

“At first, at 2.8 miles maybe, we were right together … and in the last loop, (Cognata) passed me and beat me,” Warnock said. “I was expecting that. He deserved it.


“It was very muddy. The grassy spots were very muddy, and I still made out a little bit.” 

Mt. Abram coach David Cooper was proud of Warnock’s performance.

“Jeff did a great job,” Cooper said. “He is a hard-working young man. Shows a lot of leadership. Great guy. He is a team captain, along with Carter Butterfield (22nd, 21:31.4). Both great guys.”

Other top finishers in the boys race included Spruce Mountain’s Abram Geissinger (fourth, 18:46.6) and Monmouth Academy’s Brosnan Comeau (fifth, 19:20.9), Lisbon’s Isaac Scribellito (15th, 20:32.3) and Dirigo’s Gage Lee (16th, 20:34.6). Boothbay-Wiscassett’s Bryan Gagon took seventh with his time of 19:45.0.

Lisbon coach Jeremy Williams was also impressed Winthrop’s performance on Saturday.

“Team wise today, I think Winthrop really shocked us today,” Williams said. “They had a lot of guys that ran extremely well compared to what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks. So we kind of expected to be in the mix with them. 


“ … Scribellito and Chase Mailhot (20th, 21:30.1) have been our top two runners all season, (and) they had a very good day today.”

Boothbay coach Nick Scott said his boys team was a “little flat” today, but he added Winthrop ran exceptionally well.

“They did such a great job,” he said. “Like, I am really impressed with Winthrop. Winthrop had a fantastic day overall.”


In the girls race, Williams kept her distance from the pack and turned in a strong first-place finish.

“I just looked for the finish line,” Williams said. “I just used up all my energy to get to the finish line. I was excited, I was ready to go, but I always get nervous before every single one of my races.”


Madison’s Peyton Estes (22:35.1) and Bryanna Hagopian (22:56.7) took second and third place, respectively.

Boothbay-Wiscassett edged Dirigo, 42-54, with the help of three top-10 performances to win the overall girls MVC championship. Richmond (59 points) and Winthrop (61) finished third and fourth, respectively.

The Seahawks’ Laura Chapman (24:08.5), Julia Truesdell (24:28.1) and Emily Gilliam (25:34.1) finished eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Other top-10 finishers included: Monmouth’s Allyson Lewis (fourth, 23:40.8), Dirigo’s Brooke Buotte (fifth, 23:48.9), Winthrop’s Grace Drown (seventh,23:56.4).

Spruce Mountain’s Skylar Condon came in 16th with her time of 28:00.3.

Comments are no longer available on this story