Ten State Champions will run in the Beach to Beacon High School Mile, now in its fourth year. For the second straight year the boys race has drawn a full field with twenty qualified entrants while the girls field holds steady with seventeen. On top of the ten individual title holders, another dozen or so are regular visitors to the podium in state meets on the track and the cross country courses; the conference accolades for this group are too many to name. This field is very deep.
First added in 2016 the aim of the race is to provide a showcase for Maine's talented high school athletes, to celebrate their achievements, to provide a festive prelude to the next day's big race, and to offer a glimpse of Maine's developing talent.
As the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, Maine's premier running event, draws talent from around the world and induces Maine's top runners to return year after year, the high school mile has also developed a loyal following. Fourteen runners are repeat competitors, and four, Gorham's Iris Kitchen, Aiden Willey of Bonny Eagle, Griffin Allaire from Wells High School, and a home-town representative in Cape Elizabeth Jack Bassett, are each back for the third consecutive year.
Joan Benoit-Samuelson, the B2B 10K's founder, has said,"We hope to attract the best and then bring out their best."
The best will toe the starting line in the shadow of Maine's most photographed lighthouse, Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth's historic Fort Williams Park.
At the top of the field, the girls defending champion, Helen Shearer of Hampden Academy looks to defend her title. Her winning time of 5:24.1 established a new course record in 2018. On the boys side, Griffin Allaire of Wells is here for the third year. In 2017 he placed third. Last summer Allaire was the runner-up. Perhaps the third time is a charm and Allaire will claim the title for 2019.
In year's past Joan Benoit-Samuelson has been on hand to personally celebrate the "achievements of dedicated and passionate high school athletes" and there are always a handful of other luminaries to help with the finish line, present awards, greet the runners and otherwise lend a hand. Past presenters include champions such as Shalane Flanagan, Jordan Hasey, Ben True, and Molly Huddle.
The race itself is a two-loop course beginning near the Portland Head Light and ending across the official TD Beach to Beacon finish line in Fort Williams. There are some inclines and curves and the surface is variable, some paved, some natural. If patterns from past year's hold we can expect the competitors to finish a shade off their seed times.
Helen Shearer's first seed is based on a 1600 time of 5:08 from the Class A State Championship meet in June. It earned her the runner-up spot for the race. But Shearer is one of the ten title holders running the High School Mile. She claimed the Maine State Championship for the indoor two-mile this past February. Two weeks later she set a new personal mark at the distance of 10:10.85 while taking the sixth spot at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
Like Shearer, Gorham's Kate Tugman is back for a second year. In September 2018 Tugman made a big splash besting a field of 294 runners to take the top spot in the junior/senior division at the Hoka Southern Maine Cross-Country Classic. Her time was 18:18. The rising senior went on to have a stellar junior campaign as she claimed the second place ribbon in Class A for the cross country championships, the indoor two-mile, and the 3200 this spring on the track. Her seed time of 5:15 is the second fastest for this race.
Karley Piers, seeded third at 5:23, will be a junior at Falmouth this fall. Piers is a regular top distance performer during the outdoor season and cross country. She has had top ten finishes in the Class A State Cross Country meet in each season; outdoors she has reached the podium in 3200 in each season. This spring she added a fourth place finish in the 1600 with a run of 5:11.84. As a first year she captured the Freshman Title at the Festival of Champions, while besting a field of 186 from around New England and the Maritime Provinces.
Olivia Mosca saw the top spot of the podium twice this past season as she led the Brewer Witches to two Class B State Championships. The Witches took both the indoor and outdoor titles in 2019. The junior took 4th in the 1600, 3rd in the 3200, 3rd in the two-mile, and 2nd in the one-mile. Her 5:23 seed time matches Piers's.
Also coming in at 5:23 is Scarborough's Megan Randall. A rising sophomore Randall claimed 5th place in the indoor mile at States as a freshman and added a third place finish at the Festival of Champions freshman race this fall. Randall also high jumps.
An injury kept Iris Kitchen, entered for the third consecutive year, from competing in 2018, but in 2017 she crossed the line at Fort Williams in seventh position. Her personal mark in the 1600 is 5:20.39, and her seed time for this race is 5:28, for the 6th position. Running for the Gorham Rams, the senior has been on the podium in state championship races three times in the 800 with a top mark of 2:21. In addition she ran 7th in the Maine State Class A Cross-Country Championship this past fall.
Do not be deceived by Mia Claire Kezal's 7th seed time of 5:30. A sophomore at Thornton Academy, Kezal showed the field her heals at the State Class A meet. Her 2:18.82 in the 800 earned her a State Championship as she took nearly four-seconds off her prior best time.
Emmaline Pendleton, a sophomore at Bonny Eagle will be looking for a repeat this fall as the Scots took the state title last fall with Pendleton's help. The sophomore's seed time is 5:33.
The second entrant from Hampden Academy, Moxie Flanagan, also holds a state championship in the 1600; but her signature event is in the 1600 meter race-walk. She claimed the Class A title this spring for the second consecutive year. Her qualifying time for the run comes from an indoor mile where she clocked a 5:34, the ninth fastest in this field.
Lila Gaudrault, in her second year at the High School Mile, may have the shortest trip. As a freshman in 2017 she paced the Cape Elizabeth Cross Country team taking third in the State Class B Championship.. Gaudrault followed that up with a sophomore campaign where she took the top spot outright with a run of 18:43.82. More recently she claimed the third spot-across all age divisions-in the 2019 L.L.Bean 10K. Gaudrault is seeded 10th.
Olivia Reynolds, a junior this fall, has collected her share of State Championships for Class C, Maine Coast Waldorf. A two-time State Champion on the country course, she squeezed in the 2018 outdoor 1600 title and 3200 title between her 5k wins. Her best time in the 1600 is 5:14. In the girls seeded race at Festival of Champions this past fall Reynolds ran 5th overall with a personal best of 18:47.
Alexa Brennan comes in with a seed time of 5:48. The senior at Messalonskee has been a stalwart distance competitor. Brennan often runs all three distance events and a leg of the 4 x 800 at the same meet. Brennan has amassed ten individual ribbons in KVAC Championships during the past three years.
Serena Blasius, a rising senior at Medomak Valley, led the Panthers Cross Country team this past fall with a 3rd place finish in the KVAC Championship, and 6th place finish in the Northern Maine Regional meet for Class B. Her seed time is 5:53.
A sophomore at Scarborough, Kayla Werner, was the Red Storm's lone representative at the 2018 State Cross Country meet where she grabbed a top 20 finish. Werner also claimed a podium spot at State's this spring with a 6th place finish in the 3200.
Ava Dowling, a junior and the third runner from Hampden Academy entered in this year's High School Mile leads the Broncos Cross Country team. Her top-twenty finish at the 2018 State meet earned her an invitation to the New England Championships.
Emma Goodwin, will begin her sophomore year this fall at Scarborough. She has one season of track in the books. Her seed time is 5:58.
Maddie Marston is a rising junior at Yarmouth. Known as a cross country runner she led the Clippers this past fall with a 7th place finish in the State Class B meet. The Clippers were the state runners-up for the team title.