The inaugural Southern Maine XC Classic brought the most noise from the weekend around Maine XC, but there were Invitationals, Relays and regular season meets that led to standout performances. Let's take a look at the biggest highlights from the weekend.
Gorham High School was host of the Southern Maine XC Classic on Saturday September 9, which brought in more than 20 Southern schools, as well as the Amherst Regional High School boy's team from Massachusetts. The Gorham 5k course is regarded as one of the fastest courses statewide, and it certainly showed on Saturday. Spectators were on hand to In the Freshmen/Sophomore girls' race, Falmouth freshmen Sophie Matson proved for the second week in a row that she is a serious threat to win the Class A individual title this season. Matson dominated the race finishing in 18:20.70, which was the fastest time of the day. Following behind was her teammate, Karley Piers, who was second in 19:11.15. Lila Gauldrault of Cape Elizabeth (19:14.27), Iris Kitchen of Gorham (19:37.17) and Hailey Applebee of Windham (20:23.18) rounded out the top five. With Matson and Piers, the Yachtsmen are poised to be perennial favorites in Class A for the next four years. And if Malaika Pasch can return to her championship form from a year ago, Falmouth has a dynamic top three that could help them win a state title this season.
Standing in there way, however, would be Bonny Eagle or the Gorham Rams, who won the meet scoring 89 points. The Rams were led by Kitchen and Anna Slager who finished seventh in the Junior/Senior race. Kitchen and Slager finished 10th and 11th respectively in the combined results. Winning the girl's junior/senior race was Yarmouth senior Anneka Murrin, who crossed the line in 18:28.74, 16 seconds ahead of Greely's Carolyn Todd (18:44.99). Lily Horne of Freeport (19:04.40), Kathryn Miller of York (19:06.03) and Bethany Sholl of Scarborough (19:12.83) completed the top five. In the overall results, Western Maine Conference teams were very well-represented. In fact, Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, York, Falmouth and Fryeburg Academy took spots 2-6, and were separated by a combined 42 points. Digging deeper, Yarmouth, the runner-up, and Fryeburg, who finished sixth, were separated by just five points.
On the boys' side, Yarmouth senior Luke Laverdiere defended his reputation as the top runner in the state as he cruised to a dominating win, crossing the finish line in 15:17.85. The time set a personal-best by more than 15 seconds for Laverdiere, who gradually pulled away from runner-up Jack Yanko of Amherst (15:37.99) early in the race. The race for third in the Junior/Senior race came down to three runners, but in the end it was Wells senior Mitch Libby (16:10.00) using his 1:57 800m speed to kick past Greely's Luke Marsanskis (16:11.93) and Massabesic Alexander Swett (16:12.05) down the home stretch. Marsanskis teammate, Matthew Todd, was sixth in 16:13.05, with Falmouth junior John Auer following closely behind in 16:19.72. Behind two top-10 finishes, the Greely boys' dominated the team competition scoring just 69 points. Ranger freshmen Sam Wilson had a great race, finishing 15th overall, and fourth in the freshmen/sophomore race, running 17:02.72.
In the beginning of the season Falmouth and Deering looked like the teams to beat in Class A, but Greely showed on Saturday that they might be the favorite. They have two top-five threats in Marsanskis and Todd, and are quite possibly the deepest team in the state. Falmouth ran without senior Connor Piers, who is capable of finishing with Auer but even with Piers, the Rangers would have topped the Yachtsmen easily. Falmouth finished second scoring 152 points, with Massabesic just two points behind in third. In the Freshmen/Sophomore race, Scarborough's Tristram Coffin pulled away from Cape Elizabeth's Jack Bassett to win in 16:34.85, with Bassett nearly 12 seconds back in 16:46.74. Yarmouth sophomore Odeh Rizkallah also dipped under the 17:00 barrier, finishing third in 16:57.43. Greely's Wilson, and Griffin Allaire of Wells (17:03.15) rounded out the top five.
While Southern Maine schools duked it out in Gorham on Saturday, many teams from the KVAC competed at the Quabacook relays at Morse High School in Bath. It's structure is much like the SMAA Relays as the meet is broken into seven different varsity races to cover to the 2.54-mile layout. The highlight of the meet came from the final boys' race, with Bangor's Gabe Coffey and Mt. Ararat's Lisandro Berry-Gaviria -- two runners who will likely battle for a Northern individual title this season -- battling it out. Berry-Gaviria continued his perfect season as he pulled away from Coffey, crossing the line in 13:47 with Coffey five seconds back. In winning Berry-Gaviria helped the Eagles take the boys' team title. Coffey took more than 50 seconds off his time from a year ago (14:43), while Berry-Gaviria shaved off seven seconds from 2016 (13:54).
Taking the fastest time on the girls' side was Jillian Richardson of Edward Little. The junior completed the course in 16:17, nearly 40 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Camila Ciembroniewicz of Mt. Ararat. Richardson is off to a great start in 2017. She was the runner-up to Katherine Leckbee at the Laliberte Invitational, covering the 2.4-mile course in 15:44.70 which was nearly 90 seconds faster than what she ran in 2016. Her winning time of 16:17 on Saturday also bested the 2016 winning time of 16:30 set by Anne Guadulupi of Cony. She's looking like a legitimate individual title favorite in Class A North this season. Ciembroniewicz guided Mt. Ararat to the girls' team title.
Teams from the PVC Conference made its way to the Bucksport Invitational on Saturday. On the boys' side Brendan Penfold of Deer Isle Stonington made it 2-for-2 in 2017, as he covered the 3-mile course in 16:25, 32 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Evan Merchant of Jonesport Beals. The time was more than 30 seconds faster than Penfold ran in 2016 (16:59). Behind Merchant came three Orono finishers, led by Jonathan Steelman, who was 10 seconds back in 17:07. Matt Keresy (17:25) and Sam Holt (17:28) followed as the Red Riots dominated the team competition, scoring just 21 points. George Stevens (59 points), Lee Academy (71), Mattanawcook (80) and Machias (102) rounded out the top five. Orono is the team to beat in Class C North in 2017 and has a great chance to win its second-consecutive state title.
Eliza Broughton of George Stevens Academy won the girls' race, winning in 19:51 with Orono's Camille Kohtala behind her in 20:17. Broughton has yet to lose in 2017 and is the top returner in Class C this season. She opened her senior campaign with a win at the Ellsworth Invitational running 20:02. Like the boys' race, the Orono girls' dominated the team competition scoring 21 points. Following Kohtala were teammates Erin Gerbi (20:28), Liza Gallandt (20:43) and Julia White (20:56), who took spots 2-5. George Stevens ran without Mary Richardson who usually follows close behind Broughton, but it wouldn't have made a difference on Saturday. The Eagles are the defending Class C Champions, but the Red Riots have more depth right now and should be the favorite to claim its second title in three years.
Many teams in Class B North attended the Presque Isle Invitational on Saturday. Caribou's Dylan Marrero took the boys' 5k race in 17:48.30 and the Vikings placed three in the top five, scoring 49 points to take the team title. It was the fourth time the junior has dipped under 18:00 in his career. After finishing 14th in the Northern Regional and 51st at the Class B State Meet in 2016, Marrero is poised for a big year in 2017. Finishing in second was John Bapst's Ben Spear, running 18:08. Spear had a very good freshman season in 2016 -- he finished ninth in Class B North -- and is likely to make a run at a top five finish in the North in 2017. Bridget Hill of Greater Houlton Christian Academy took the girls' race in 21:18.70, edging Dolcie Tanguay of Limestone who was three seconds back in 21:21.80. Abigail Wimmer and Ashley Violette of Caribou finished sixth and seventh to lead the Vikings to a team title. Both were timed at 22:11.
While Invitationals highlighted the weekend in Maine XC, there were also some compelling inter-conference meets going on as well. Bonny Eagle hosted a five-team SMAA regular season meet in Standish on Friday. The Deering boys' put five runners in the top-10 to take the win, scoring 22 points. Alec Troxell and Yahya Nure swept the top two spots in the race running 16:38 and 16:39, respectively. Bonny Eagle's Aiden Willey crossed the line in third running 17:12, with Deering's Jerry Mixangelo (17:32) and Biddeford's Sam Mills (17:40) completing the top five. In the girls' race it was the Bonny Eagle Scots taking the win, with Ami Beaumier (19:36), Kayla Raymond (19:42) and Christine Toy (19:50) taking the top three spots. Bonny Eagle scored 32 points, 12 more than runner-up Deering, who was led by Sierra Aponte-Clarke's fourth place finish (20:34). Teammate Nicole Whipkey followed closely in sixth running 20:43.
Belfast High School hosted Lincoln Academy, Oceanside, Medomak Valley and Erskine Academy at Troy Howard Middle School -- the host of the New England Championships this season. The Lincoln Academy boys' swept the first four spots with Sam Russ leading the way, running 17:41.91 to take the win. David Barnum (17:46.20), Jarret Gulden (17:55.44) and Benji Pugh (18:11.73) followed. The Eagles finished fourth in Class B South and sixth at the State Meet in 2016, but they return its entire top seven. They might be the deepest team in Class B. Sam Russ is expected to contend for a high finish at the state meet this season and if he can do that, Lincoln Academy has a very good chance to win its first ever state championship. Grace Iltis (19:39.33) and Augusta Stockman (19:41.68) went 1-2 for Camden Hills, who put six in the top-10 scoring 22 points to take the win. The Windjammers will be a favorite in Class B North, but will have to chase down the MDI Trojans. Despite losing Tia Tardy, the Trojans bring back six of its top seven from its Regional Championship team. Camden was just 16 points behind MDI in 2016 and that was without Augusta Stockman, who will contend for a high finish this season. The Windjammers return four of its top five from a regional runner-up team.