An epic battle, and new champions
BELFAST — Their previous two races -- one in the spring and one earlier this fall -- had been decided by a fraction of a second, so Fryeburg Academy senior Silas Eastman and Ellsworth junior Dan Curts figured the Class B cross country state championship would be another close one.
Try four hundredths of a second. That´s the margin by which Curts surged past Eastman after they went back and forth for 5 kilometers under brilliant sunshine at Troy Howard Middle School.
"You might as well flip a quarter, and that´s the distance separating first and second," said Ellsworth coach Andy Beardsley. "I think four one-hundredths is about an inch."
The dual between Curts -- who won in 15 minutes, 47.52 seconds -- and Eastman proved to be the highlight of a full day of racing.
"It was so much fun to watch," said Merriconeag senior Jack Pierce, who won the Class C race in 15:57. "I was more excited for their race than mine."
None of the other 332 runners in three classes broke 16 minutes. Telstar junior Josef Holt-Andrews was runner-up to Pierce in 16:20.
"Josef is a very strong runner, and great competition," Pierce said. "We fought neck-and-neck for the first two miles. Then I put on a little surge and he wasn´t able to follow."
In Class A, Biddeford senior Cam Nadeau held off Scarborough senior Robby Hall to win by three seconds in 16:36.
"I started running my sophomore year and never thought I´d be here," said Nadeau, who was third in the regional meet last weekend. "It´s pretty exciting."
In team competition, Massabesic won the Class A crown for the first time in school history. Cape Elizabeth returned to the top spot in Class B for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2005-06. Hall-Dale won Class C for the first time since 1988.
Massabesic´s top two runners -- George Morrison and Michael Aboud -- finished ninth and 11th, both behind Lewiston´s top three. Massabesic´s Remy Gaetjens (18th), Cody Vachon (26th) and Andrew Mongiat (28th) all finished behind Lewiston´s fourth runner. But the Mustangs´ pack time -- Morrison to Mongiat -- was roughly 35 seconds. Between Lewiston´s fourth and fifth runners, 1:18 elapsed.
"Their top runners are unbelievable," Massabesic Coach Mark Crepeau said of Lewiston. "If we had a chance, we were going to have to put a lot of distance between our fifth and their fifth."
Massabesic wound up winning by nine points, 82-91. Two-time defending champion Scarborough was third with 95.
"I looked back in the last mile of the race," said Massabesic senior Cody Vachon, "and I saw three Scarborough kids in back of us. I looked at Andrew (Mongiat) and I was like, ´We gotta go!´ I knew if all three of them went by us we weren´t going to get this. It was so close."
The last mile also proved decisive for Cape Elizabeth, which pulled away from defending champ Falmouth to win 76-87, with York (101) and Ellsworth (105) not far behind.
Juniors Liam Simpson (sixth) and Peter Doane (ninth) led the way for the Capers, with classmate Will Britton (21st), sophomore Kyle Kennedy (23rd) and freshman Justin Guerette (26th) all moving up in the final kilometer.
"Our top two guys didn´t have the races they were looking for," said Cape Elizabeth Coach Derek Veilleux. "They still ran well, but it was really about our 3-4-5, and especially (Guerette). He really had a great race, and that probably made all the difference in the end."
Hall-Dale won Class C by nearly 30 points over runner-up Orono, with Winthrop edging Waynflete by a point for third.
Joining the three class champions at the New England meet in Cumberland in two weeks will be Scarborough, Lewiston and Falmouth. The top 25 individuals, regardless of class, also qualified, with Gray-New Gloucester junior Will Shafer grabbing the final slot at 17:04.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: