BEFLAST -- Before Josef Holt-Andrews even went to the starting line at Troy Howard Middle School Saturday afternoon, his cross country brethren and the hundreds of spectators had a feeling something special was about to happen.
With perfect fall conditions in the air and a dry, fast 3.1 miles in front of him, the Telstar High School senior took advantage of perfect conditions in a record-setting performace.
With arguably one of the best distance runners ever to come out of Maine in Riley Masters in attendance, Holt-Andrews mastered the 12th annual Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions, setting meet and Belfast course records with an amazing time of 15 minutes, 6.29 seconds.
That standard shattered the 2012 mark established by Mike Tate of Dr. JH Gillis High of Nova Scotia.
Holt-Andrews was joined atop the podium by Bonny Eagle sophomore Kialeigh Marston, who emerged from a tightly-bunched girls field to cross the finish line in 18:42.94.
Team crowns went to 2012 champion Mount Desert Island on the girls' side while Lewiston emerged victorious for the boys.
An expected showdown in the boys' race between Holt-Andrews and Ellsworth senior Dan Curts became a one-man show with the Eagles' standout and defending Class B state champ slowed by injury.
Early in the race, Holt-Andrews was bunched in a pack that included Aaron Willingham and Josh Horne of Mt. Blue, Sam Nishi of Harwood Union (Vt.) and Liam Simpson of Cape Elizabeth, who wound up occupying places 2-5, but the Rebels' senior gradually pulled away.
With a course record in his sights in the final mile, Holt-Andrews kept his foot on the gas pedal and didn't let up upon crossing the finish line.
He said after the race with the course in outstanding conditions following weeks of dry weather and with crisp fall skies overhead, breaking Tate's mark was a realistic goal.
In the boys' team competition, Lewiston showed why they will be one of the favorites to emerge atop Eastern Maine Class A's pack when the Blue Devils return here for the regional championships in three weeks.
The Blue Devils accumulated 87 points to runner-up Harwood Union's 107. Cape Elizabeth scored 138 points to finish third out of 57 scoring teams, while Scarborough (172) and Falmouth (206) rounded out the top five squads.
Lewiston's pack was powered by junior Isaiah Harris, who ran to a seventh-place finish. Two other Blue Devils, Mohamed Awil (11th) and Mohamed Mohamed (14th) recorded top-15 efforts.
In the girls' competition, Marston, like Holt-Andrews, broke away from a tightly contested pack early in the race and was alone in front by the final mile. She covered the course in 18:42.94.
Marston cautiously followed the lead pack early, led by Washburn's Carsyn Koch through a mile, and said she was careful not to go out too fast.
Marston added winning will undoubetdly give her confidence for the upcoming championship season.
South Portland senior Shannon Conley was second, recording a time of 18:59.21, while Kents Hill sophomore Anne McKee was right behind in third at 18:59.40. Aleta Looker of Ellsworth claimed fourth.
Fifth-place finisher Maggie Painter sparked top-ranked MDI's dominating winning effort, as the defending Class B state champions showed why they're the favorites to repeat.
The Trojans placed all five scoring runners in the top 36, scoring a whopping 95 points, well ahead of runner-up Falmouth's 181.
Rounding out the top five scoring schools were Harwood Union (232), Cape Elizabeth (273) and Massabesic (286).
Also earning top-15 finishes for MDI were Isabel Erickson in 11th and Waylon Henggeler in 13th. Rounding out the Trojans' scoring runners were Caroline Driscoll in 30th and Olivia Erickson in 36th.
The meet attracted over 70 schools and 1,600 runners from three states and two Canadian proviences. In addition to Harwood Union of Vermont, schools from Cumberland and Burrillville, R.I. competed, along with J.H. Gillis of Nova Scotia and Colonel Gray High of Prince Edward Island.