GRAY — Despite fighting bouts of illness this season, Carter Libby still finished second in the Class B state meet, running a personal-best in 15:57.74.

His state time was the fifth fastest boys time in Maine this season, regardless of classification.

Libby was also the highest area boys finisher at the New England Championships, placing 24th.

Gray-New Gloucester senior Carter Libby placed second at the Class B state cross country meet earlier this month. His time in that race is the fifth fastest of any boys runner in the state in 2023. Christine Parlin Photography

He said he was not as satisfied with his beginning of the season results, specifically the Maine XC Festival of Champions, where he finished at 16:28.02 and in 20th place.

“I got pretty sick, really sick, so my mileage dropped a little and I was taking more days off to try to recover and stuff,” Libby, a senior at Gray New-Gloucester, said. “My, basically, first race of the year was supposed to be all out, but that was my day I was the most sick. I did pretty bad in relation to what I was hoping to do.”

Libby finished strong, though, and is the Sun Journal’s All-Region Boys Runner of the Year for the second year in a row. He entered 2023 coming stellar junior season in which he won the Class B state title with a time of 16:50.13.


Patriots coach Adam Zukowski has coached cross country for 17 years, track and field for 16 years and Libby for four years. He said he applauds Libby’s coachability.

“So, freshman year, that was right in the middle of COVID,” Zukowski said. “He was definitely a good athlete, you could tell that. I definitely didn’t anticipate he would reach as high as he has. You could definitely tell that the talent was there. He’s one of the best runners in the state and one of the top runners in New England. He definitely came on, especially his junior and senior year, to really solidify his talent.”

Zukowski also said Libby, a senior captain, was a great role model for younger teammates because he was always at practice “doing exactly what he was supposed to do,” and Zukowski never had to worry about Libby completing his offseason training.

“He’s always his best at the big meets,” Zukowski said. “I mean, I’ll never forget him coming down the straightaway and, you know, his fishing kick (at states this year), and just feeling like I was going to kind of blow up. I was so happy for him and happy for the program and the school.”

Libby said this season’s Class B competition was the most competitive it had been in years, which caused an even bigger struggle with his mindset in the beginning of the season. Libby’s strategy was to conserve his energy for the races that really mattered, those near the end of season. By pacing himself in the beginning, his hope was to empty his tank at the end of the year’s final meets.

“It was definitely just not what I was hoping to do with my senior season,” Libby said in reference to his results. “My mindset was just really not there, like it didn’t feel like states to me, it just didn’t have the same energy. I just wasn’t prepared mentally.”


The Class B state meet was postponed one week due to the mass shooting in Lewiston, and Libby said that made it hard to stay in a competitive race mindset.

Yet, he still came in second place to Lake Region junior Sam Laverdiere, who Libby has raced several times.

“After states, I knew I had what it took to be where I wanted to be for New England,” Libby said. “I was so close, and had I had like, one more week, I remember thinking I would have been able to defend my title. But everything happens for a reason, and I can control what I can control.”

At the New England Championships, Libby was able to finish in the top 25 at the New England Championships, which he said was his goal.

“For New Englands, I heard my coach yell out, ’29,’” Libby said. “So I knew I needed to be top 25 for all New England, so at that point, I guess what was going through my mind was just to pass as many people as I could. I remember doing the math in my head, and I remember thinking I either got 25th or 24th.”

Both Libby and Zukowski agree that his strength in races is the final straightaway sprint, because he is able to run his fastest and pass runners in front of him.


“He’s always had a great finishing kick,” Zukowski said. “That’s kind of his M.O., and he gives a lot of strength. So anytime it’s a hillier course or he’s moving up in a in a pack, he does well.”

Zukowski said Libby will go down in history as one of the top two runners ever at Gray New-Gloucester, along with 2014 graduate Will Shafer. Shafer holds the school’s 5K record, 15:53.6, which is about four seconds faster than Libby’s personal-best of 15:57.8, which he ran at the state meet.

Libby also is second in program history to Shafer in the outdoor track and field 1,600- and 800-meter runs. Libby ranks second in the 3,200, a spot ahead of Shafer and six seconds behind Ben Garcia’s 2016 time.

Libby said he is currently talking to several NCAA Division-I schools about running both cross country and track in college. Before graduation, he is playing basketball and running track, specifically the 800 and 1,600. He said he has always been active, starting with soccer in elementary school, football in middle school and cross country from sixth grade on.

“After my sophomore cross country season, at states, I had a really bad race, and I was really wanting to redeem myself,” Libby said. “I knew running was my best sport, and it fired me up.”

Libby said he is thankful for the support he received from his teammates, family and coaches throughout his high school career, and is excited to see what he can accomplish this spring and in college.

“The team this year, we really stepped it up,” Libby said. “We tied our best finish in school history and we had a lot of guys over the past few years really lock in and focus up on running, because me and like basically our top three really started taking it serious, like, last summer of 2022. My first year of training in the offseason, I went on to win states and our team went on to be top four in the region, so it was pretty cool that our team qualified for states this year for the first time in like 10 years.”

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