We caught up with Delaney Hesler to talk about the Fleet Feet Classic and the the 2021 xc season
The Fleet Feet Classic is back after a year's absence and the field is filled with top teams and athletes. On the girls' side, seven athletes ranked in the top ten of the Maine MileSplit individual rankings are scheduled to compete along with six of the top ten ranked teams including the top four schools. On the boys' side, five athletes ranked in the top ten will toe the starting line along with five of the top-ranked teams in the latest Maine MileSplit Team rankings.
There will be four individual races as the freshman/sophomore athletes will compete in one race, while the junior/senior athletes will compete in another race for each gender. The results of the two races will be combined for team scoring purposes.
Freshman/Sophomore Girls Race
This is shaping up to be a tremendous race with three of the top ten ranked individuals in the state. Cape Elizabeth sophomore Hadley Mahoney
leads the way, she comes in ranked third in the latest Maine MileSplit individual rankings. Mahoney has a best of 19:42 for 5k on the season and is coming off a win at the Quabacook Relays last weekend where she ran 15:58 for 2.6 miles. Hadley has only lost once in her high school career and will be a favorite to win the freshman/sophomore race on Saturday. Winning won't be an easy stroll in the park as Marshwood's Sarah McClellan
ranked fifth and Addy Thibodeau
of Bonny Eagle who ranks seventh. McClellan has had a strong start to her year running a personal best 19:35 at Thornton Academy last week while finishing as the fourth fastest at the SMAA Relays to start the year. While Thibodeau recorded a 19:42 5k effort at Kennebunk and was 6th fastest at the SMAA Relays.
Another Bonny Eagle Scot to watch for will be Kallie Warner
who has a best of 20:35 for 5k this fall. Westbrook's Haley Ball
will be looking to challenge for a top-five finish on Saturday, Ball has a 22:58 5k best this fall. Rita Cummings
of Gorham, Mara Muse
of Kennebunk, and Maeve Woodruff
of Maine Coast Waldorf have plenty of talent as well and will be in the mix for the top spots.
Junior/Senior Girls Race
Top-ranked Delaney Hesler
of Bonny Eagle headlines the race. Hesler who won the freshman/sophomore race in 18:32 back in 2019, now a senior Hesler will be looking to break the 18 minute barrier for the first time on Saturday, she already has an 18:04 effort under her belt in 2021 from two weeks ago from a flat and fast Kennebunk course. Hesler won the SMAA relays to open her season back in August. Based on her performances in 2021 so far it's hard to see any beating her but nothing is a guarantee.
Hesler's teammate Emmaline Pendleton
ranked fourth in Maine MileSplit rankings could be one to challenge for the win, Pendleton works out with Hesler every day and has clocked an 18:55 on the course at Gorham in the past. So far in 2021 Emmaline has a 19:03 effort under her belt and is coming off a win at Massabesic last week. Marshwood's Catie McClellan
has missed the last two weeks but is entered, she started the season with a third-place effort at the SMAA Relays and could be a surprise this weekend. Megan Randall
will make the trip down from Bangor to race this weekend, the senior currently is ranked sixth in the state after opening her 2021 season with a pair of victories, including a 19:47 effort on her home course. Randall was third in the sophomore/junior race back in 2019 when she competed for Scarborough. Another Bonny Eagle runner to watch will be senior Hannah Stevens
who is ranked 10th in the state, she has a best of 19:57 on the season for 5k.
Top-ranked Bonny Eagle
is excepted to cruise to an easy team win, the Scots have quality and depth that is unrivaled in the state of Maine right now. With four individual athletes ranked in the top ten statewide entering the meet the real question is how many points the Scots score, can they score under 40 points? There is a good chance of that happening, it will be interesting to see once the two races are combined just how dominant the Scots will be.
The race for second will be the one to watch as a handful of teams have a shot. Gorham
who ranks second in the latest Maine MileSplit team rankings has the advantage of running on their home course, the Rams have been strong in 2021 and will look to continue that on Saturday. Marshwood
who ranks third will be right there, the Hawks beat Gorham at the SMAA Relays, while finished behind the Rams at Kennebunk by two points, a healthy Catie McClellan in the line-up for Marshwood will help them for sure.
will try to crash the party, the fourth-ranked Capers are coming off a strong performance at the Quabacook Relays where they took the team victory. With Lydia Branson returning to the lineup last week, watch for Cape to challenge the top teams in Class A this weekend. Sixth-ranked Greely
will get a chance to see where they stand, they beat Cape Elizabeth in week one of the WMC season and will try to do it again. Kennebunk
who is tenth-ranked will have a chance to prove they belong in the top ten teams in the state.
We caught up with Daniel McCarthy to talk about the Fleet Feet Classic and the 2021 xc season
Freshman/Sophomore Boys Race
Noble sophomore Maddox Jordan will be the one to beat in the freshman/sophomore race. Jordan has finished second in both of his 5k cross-country races this fall, his fastest effort so far is a 17:19 effort at Sanford. A year ago Jordan earned one of the SMAA York County individual qualifying spots to Class A states last fall.
Bonny Eagle's Tyler Gilbert will be one to watch, the sophomore has run 18:18 for 5k this fall. Gilbert's teammates Rowan McDonald and Xavier Lemieux will also be near the front. Freeport's William Spaulding will be in the mix for a top-five finish as well he has run 18:05 for 5k this fall, and has been in the top four of each of his races. Portland's Nathan Blades is a top competitor who has clocked a best of 18:33 for 5k his teammate Ben Prestes will be right with him.
There is plenty of room for surprises in this race as for most in the race it will be their first big invitational.
Junior/Senior Boys Race
Five of the top-ranked boys individual in the state will match up in this race which is expected to fast and furious from the gun. Daniel McCarthy the #1 ranked individual from Bangor will make the trip down to see him he can win against some of the best in Southern Maine. A senior McCarthy is healthy after battling injuries a year ago, he has shown a high level of fitness with his 15:56 course record-breaking effort on his home course to open the season and followed that up with another dominating effort at Waterville last week. As a sophomore McCarthy finished fourth in the Class A state meet, and recorded a personal best time of 15:41 two years ago. If the pace is right expect McCarthy to challenge his best time.
2019 freshman/sophomore race winner Zach Barry ran 16:23 two years in the meet. Barry ran 16:15 on the Gorham course last fall, and so far in 2021, he is undefeated. He has a 16:26 5k best to his name this fall and won the SMAA Relays in a sprint finish. Look for Barry who ranks fourth statewide entering the meet to be in the lead pack, if the race comes down to a kick he's got a strong one.
Senior Calvin Cummings of Gorham will be looking to win on his home course. The fifth-ranked Cummings has been strong this fall clocking a personal best 15:57.60 at Kennebunk. He was the runner-up at the SMAA Relays behind Barry, and the Laliberte Invitational behind third-ranked Grady Satterfield of Mt Ararat.
Sixth-ranked Logan Ross of Falmouth is another contender for the win on Saturday. Ross is coming off a strong spring track season that saw him run 9:34 for 3200m. Logan has won both races he has started this fall, with his latest effort a 17:03 at Sanford last weekend
Vaughn Lindenau of Cape Elizabeth is the eighth-ranked runner in the state heading into the Southern Maine Classic. Vaughn won the only 5k he has run this fall in 16:58, and last weekend was the fourth-fastest at the Quabacook Relays. He has a best of 16:40 from last fall so this race will be a good opportunity to improve on his best. His teammate Owen Patry will be in the mix as well. Patry is coming off a runner-up effort at the Quabacook Relays, his best 5k of 2021 is a 17:00 flat effort on his home course.
Biddeford's Chris Walton has a lot of speed so the course at Gorham should suit him well, Walton has a best of 16:58 for 5k this fall.
Others to watch are Andrew Keene (Kennebunk), Jacob Ramos (South Portland), Henry Horne (Freeport), and Jake Twigg (Poland).
The team race is wide open on the boys' side. Cape Elizabeth ranked number three in the latest MileSplit team poll enters as a slight favorite, the Capers are coming off a strong performance at the Quabacook Relays finishing behind number two ranked Brunswick. With Vaughn Lindenau and Owen Patry leading the way, Cape will look to win the Fleet Feet Classic for the first time as a team. Fourth-ranked Portland will be looking to chase down the Capers this weekend, the Bulldogs have a young team that has looked very strong so far in 2021. George Theall has been Portland's top runner this fall, the Bulldogs finished five points in front of sixth-ranked South Portland last week even without one of their top runners Miles Fischer in the line-up. Freeport moved up to the fifth-ranked team last week after a dominating performance at Fryeburg Academy with a 49-second pack time, the Falcons are led by Henry Horne. The Red Riots of South Portland will be looking to build off their strong start on Saturday, last week they were five points back of Portland at Smiling Hill Farm. Look for Jacob Ramos to provide the low stick for South Portland. Rounding out the ranked teams is Scarborough who ranks eighth. The Red Storm have a strong 1-2 with Zach Barry and Adam Bendetson and will look to avenge an early-season loss to Portland this weekend.