State titles up for grabs




These are the moments that high school runners dream of from the moment preseason practices begin in August. Plenty of blood, sweat and tears have been poured into numerous cross country trails throughout the state over the last 2 and a half months, and those efforts will culminate for Maine’s top schoolgirl individuals and teams on Twin Brook Recreation Area’s challenging 3.1-mile course this weekend, when state championships are up for grabs.

The Class C girls will get things under way at 11 a.m., with the Class A girls running at 12:40 and the Class B competitors starting at 2:30.

Class C: The first race of the day features two regional champions who weren’t even on Maine’s cross country radar until last fall in Washburn and the Merriconeag School. Both teams claimed regional championship honors in resounding fashion, with Washburn being led by individual champ Carsyn Koch.
Most of the Beavers’ runners are also on the school’s soccer team, which is the No. 1 seed in the Class D tournament, but Washburn’s semifinal game is set for Friday afternoon.

Upon the completion of that contest, Koch explained that she and her teammates will travel to southern Maine for the cross country meet.

Carmen Bragg gives the Beavers a talented 1-2 punch.

Merriconeag blistered through its Western Maine competition by placing four scoring runners in the top 10, and the New Gloucester school is led by junior Zoe Chace-Donahue.

Lisbon’s Meagan Thomas won the individual race in Cumberland last weekend, and could challenge Koch for that honor.

Class A: Cheverus has been the top-ranked team in the coaches poll throughout the season, and managed to edge Massabesic in the Western Maine meet despite top runner Emily Durgin not finishing. Durgin has been battling anemia, which has forced her to drop out of three races this fall, but the Stags are optimistic she will be ready to go this weekend.

Fiona Hendry, Shannon Conley and Kiera Murray picked up the slack in the midst of Durgin’s struggles last week, finishing 2-3-4 to hold off a strong effort by Massabesic. Those two teams, along with Mount Ararat and Brunswick from the East, are expected to be in the mix.

Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk smashed the Twin Brook course record last week, running 18:05.59, and could be poised to go lower as she continues her path toward San Diego and the Foot Locker nationals.

Eastern Maine individual champ Erzsebet Nagy of Lawrence will be gunning for a top-5 finish.

Class B: This could very well be the race of the day in the team competition, with Camden Hills,  Mount Desert Island, Greely and Falmouth all in the mix.

The Windjammers and Trojans were separated by one point in the Eastern Maine championships, and enter Saturday’s action ranked 2-3 in the coaches poll.

Willow Parker and Brittany Bowman give Camden Hills, which has never won a state championship, a talented 1-2 combination, while MDI last won a state title in 2006.

The individual race should be a good battle between KVAC foes Bethanie Brown of Waterville and Abby Mace of Maranacook, along with the aforementioned Camden Hills duo and Aleta Looker of Ellsworth.