Around the 207 with Sam Bonsey Week #5

While out-of-state teams took both the boys' and girls' races at the Festival of Champions, there was still much to be celebrated for Maine teams and athletes. Yarmouth's Luke Laverdiere won for the second consecutive year running 15:10.86, just four seconds off Josef Holt-Andrews course record of 15:06.92 set back in 2013, while Falmouth freshman Sofie Matson took the girl's race running 18:17.33. The Falmouth boys (4th) and the Camden Hills girls (2nd) topped the Maine contingent in the boys' and girls' races. Good weather and dry conditions led to fast times and many personal-bests. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from FOC, as well as other meets from the weekend.

Luke Laverdiere was very impressive in his win on Saturday. It was reminiscent to his win in last year where he strung along the leaders early on, then made a decisive move midway through. His winning time of 15:10.86 was more than 30 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Maximillian Sparks of Canton
and, as previously mentioned, just four seconds off Holt-Andrew's course record of 15:06.92. With Laverdiere just seconds off Holt-Andrew's record, a new question now looms: Can Laverdiere qualify for Foot Locker Nationals in November? It might be unfair to compare Laverdiere to Holt-Andrews. After running 15:06, Holt-Andrews went on to finish third at the New England Championships, fifth at Foot Locker Northeast and 10th at Foot Locker Nationals to lock up 2nd team All-American honors. Laverdiere has yet to be challenged in 2017 and has gone under 15:20 in his two 5k victories. We might have a better answer to that question when Laverdiere runs at Twin Brook in Cumberland for the regional and state meets. Bare with me here. When Holt-Andrews and Matt McClintock each made their respective runs towards a Foot Locker National, both runners ran under 16:00 at Twin Brook at either the Southern Regional's, the state championships, or both. Twin Brook is regarded as one of the toughest courses in the state and if Laverdiere can break 16:00 on that course, it should indicate that he's ready to challenge the top runners in the NorthEast region. And we will get an even better indication at the New England Championships in Belfast in early November where Laverdiere now has the second and fifth fastest times in course history.

The Camden Hills girls came into Saturday ranked second in the state behind Gorham and showed the Class A South schools that they should be taken very seriously at the State Championships on October 28. Led by Grace Iltis's fourth place finish (18:46.43) and Augusta Stockman's 11th place finish (19:04.60), the Windjammers placed second out of 62 teams and were the top Maine team in the field.They also got a huge run from Miranda Dunton, who finished 30th in a PB of 19:41.02, and more importantly, finished ahead of Gorham's trio of Anna Slager (31st, 19:41.09), Iris Kitchen (32nd, 19:41.36) and Kate Tugman (61st, 20:23.10). Yarmouth, no. 5 in the poll going into Saturday, was the second Maine team finishing fifth, and got a tremendous run from newcomer Sophia Laukli who was second in 18:36.46. Laukli has quickly emerged as an individual title contender in Class B. The Clippers got another top 10 finish from Anneka Murrin, who finished 10th in 19:03.91. Gorham was 16 points back finishing seventh, while Bonny Eagle (8th, 342 points) and Greely (9th, 394) rounded out the top Maine teams. The Western Maine Conference was very well represented as it had four teams in the top 13 (Cape 12th, York 13th). Falmouth (no. 4 in the poll), despite getting top 10 finishes from Sophie Matson (1st) and Karley Piers (7th, 1st in freshman race), finished just 16th. Orono was the top Class C team in the field, finishing 19th.

On the boy's side, the Falmouth Yachtsmen were the top Maine team for the second year in a row, finishing fourth scoring 156 points. John Auer and Connor Piers both had great races as they finished seventh and ninth respectively, running PBs of 16:02.72 and 16:03.88. While those two ran great, Falmouth's no. 3 runner, Alex Kinley, had the best race of his season, finishing 30th overall in 16:41.65. Kinley set a PB by more than 30 seconds. Falmouth had a 1:22 1-5 split and averaged an impressive 16:39.13 for 5k. The Greely Rangers, no. 1 going into Saturday, were fifth overall and got a strong run for Luke Marsanskis, who was 14th in 16:13.46. Greely should be happy with fifth after what transpired on Saturday. The Rangers' freshman phenom Sam Wilson dropped out of the freshmen race after running with the leaders early on, and Matthew Todd, who has been running with Marsanskis all year had an 'off race,' finishing 61st in 17:09.97. Todd may have been in the carnage at the start of the seeded race, which saw a bunch of runners fall right before the course narrows. If both Todd and Wilson had run up to their standards, Greely might have been the top team on Saturday. Lincoln Academy was next among Maine teams, finishing seventh and got a great performance from Sam Russ, who was 13th in 16:12.57. They were the top Class B team in the field, and showed they should be the favorite come October 28. The unranked Bangor Rams should expect to climb into the top 10 in this week's poll after finishing ninth overall. Gabe Coffey led the way finishing 12th in 16:08.93 but it was Gordon Doore who put in the most impressive finish for Bangor. Doore finished fourth in the freshmen race running 17:33.39, which set a PB by more than a minute, and finished as Bangor's second runner. The Rams were the top team in Class A North with Hampden Academy finishing right behind in 10th and got a strong race from Wyatt Lord, who was 15th in 16:14.65.

If there was ever any doubt, Falmouth freshman Sophie Matson proved once again that she's the top runner in the state. It was an historic win for Matson as she clocked the 15th-fastest time in course history, running 18:17.33. It wasn't just that Matson won, it was how she won that made it most impressive. Here's a freshmen going against the other top runners in the state in the biggest invitational in Maine, and she takes it from the gun to win by nearly 20 seconds. If she continues this trajectory throughout her four years at Falmouth, we might see her name amongst the all-time great female runners in Maine high school history.

While the Festival of Champions took top billing this weekend, there were other notable performances around the state. Mitch Libby of Wells had a fantastic weekend as he ran to a win at Freeport High School, covering the 5k course in 15:59.26. The time broke his previous PB by more than 10 seconds. He and Laverdiere are currently the only two runners in the state to have gone under 16:00 this season. After this performance, and a third place finish at the Southern Maine XC Classic last month, Libby has solidified his spot as the second best runner in the class. You could argue that he'd be the individual favorite if Wells was in Class A. Finishing second in that race was Troy Hendricks of Sacopee Valley. The senior stopped the clock at 16:19.94, which marked the first time he's gone under 17:00 for 5k. He's been the breakout runner of the year in 2017, and should be considered an individual favorite in Class C this year. Following in third was Henry Spritz of Waynflete who crossed the line in 16:43.16 -- the first time Spritz has gone under 17:00. Alex Les of Freeport was fourth in 17:03.21, with his teammate, freshman Martin Horne, right behind in 17:04.98. The Falcons upended the no. 7 Warriors 39-44, but Wells was running without its second runner, Griffin Allaire.

Lily Horne of Freeport continued her fantastic season with another win, running a PB of 18:39, almost a minute ahead of runner-up finisher Emily Carty of Fryeburg Academy (19:32.17). Horne's season-best currently sits as the third fastest in the state, regardless of class. Carty helped lead Fryeburg to a 55-59 win over Waynflete. Abby Pipkin lead the charge for the Flyers, finishing third in 20:12.91.

Noble High School hosted Deering, Portland and Kennebunk last Friday. Deering's Nicole Whipkey picked up her first win of the season, covering the 5k course in 20:15.80 -- just 10 seconds off her PB. Ava Haritos was the runner-up finishing in 20:56.80, with Whipkey's teammates, Lucy Tumavicus (21:07.10) and Grace Tumavicus (21:27.30), following behind in third and fourth. The Rams, no. 9 in the poll, cruised to a 21-38 win over Kennebunk. Deering showed impressive depth as they put its top five in the top seven overall, and averaged 21:15 for 5k.

The Deering boy's appeared to use this meet as more of a workout, but still managed to win. Jerry Mixangelo won his first race of the season, completing the course in 17:08.60, 24 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Ethan Eickman of Kennebunk (17:32.76). The Rams' top runners, Yahya Nure and Alec Troxell, took it easy as they finished eighth and 13th respectively, running 18:01.85 and 18:36.38. The Deering girl's have a tough meet this Friday as they'll go against the no. 1 ranked Gorham Rams this this Thursday on Deering's home course.

The Mt. Ararat boys' and girls' teams showed off its depth on their home course last Friday. The Mt. Ararat girls' swept the first four spots, en route to a perfect score of 15. Katherine Leckbee picked up her fourth win of the season as she stopped the clock at 19:51.18. Karlie Leighton (20:28.64), Camila Cembroniewicz (21:39.51) and Anna Pederson (22:18.71) followed. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria stayed perfect on the season, as he cruised to an easy win running 17:13. The boys' team took the top six spots overall with Devin Hoskins (18:25) and Lucas Bergeron (18:32) taking second and third, respectively. Both the boys' and girls' teams have yet to lose in 2017. They are both ranked in the top 10 polls (the girls' 7th and the boys' 8th) and will have a chance to show the rest of the KVAC what they're made of at the Mt. Blue Relays this Friday at Farmington, in what should be an excellent meet on both sides.