When Kendall Lunn and Katie Porter decided to go out for Bangor High’s cross country team this fall, coach Pattie Craig was pleasantly surprised.
But what the veteran coach and local road racer didn’t expect was for Lunn and Porter — in particular Porter, a sprinter during the track and field season — to flourish so quickly.
“I’m surprised how high up they [are], especially Katie. She normally doesn’t do long distance,” Craig said.
The Rams have a solid nucleus of juniors in Lunn, Rachel Huber and Joyce Belanger to complement Porter, a senior, and freshman Mariah Reading. They have posted some strong results on the trails of the competitive Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.
Bangor was very competitive in a meet at Hampden Academy on Friday as it scored 36 points to finish second to Brewer, which has been ranked third in the MTCCCA coaches poll all season.
“We were shocked ourselves, believe me, but they’re very pleased, very excited that it turned out that way, that they are moving up,” said Craig.
Porter and Huber stood toe-to-toe with two of Eastern Maine’s other top runners, Brewer’s Michelle Haluska and Kaitlin Noyes, in the meet.
Porter, whose best event during track season is the 400-meter dash, is making an exceptional transition to the 3.1-mile distance of high school cross country.
“It really didn’t take her long, a couple meets. The big thing was figuring out how to run it,” said Craig. “The first day [of practice] she came out and she went for a long run with us and she handled it fine.”
Katy Laverdiere, a sophomore, and classmate Sarah Chadbourne have contributed in the Nos. 6 and 7 holes for Bangor.
As much success as it’s having at this point, Bangor knows that building up to a strong fitness level for the championship meets is crucial.
“They’re really great to work with, they’re very humble in a sense that they’re willing to work very hard,” Craig said.
For now, the Rams are plugging solid mileage while starting to work on cresting up and down hills, which is pivotal as the KVAC championship meet course in Augusta and the Eastern Maine and state championship meet course in Belfast feature some rolling hills.
Although Brewer, Brunswick and Mt. Blue of Farmington are considered by many to be the top three teams in the conference and Eastern Maine and Brewer one of the top overall teams in Class A, the Rams are excited to see how they measure up against teams of those caliber in a championship-style meet.
With Bangor running as well as it is, those three teams, along with the rest of the KVAC, may start paying more attention to the Rams.
“Most people are as surprised as I am. I didn’t know I was going to have what I have,” Craig said. “It was kind of quiet at first because of that reason. No one was really expecting anything.”
Bangor is next in action Friday at 4 p.m. against Waterville, Erskine Academy of South China, Winslow and host Skowhegan.
Elsewhere in the KVAC this week, Hampden Academy is at Cony in Augusta with Belfast, Gardiner, Messalonskee of Oakland and Oxford Hills of South Paris, while Brewer is at Leavitt in Turner Center with Lewiston, Monmouth, Edward Little of Auburn and Lawrence of Fairfield.
Guilford 12K approaching
If you’re gearing up for a fall half-marathon or marathon and need one last race to get tuned up, head to Guilford Oct. 4 for the Race to End Domestic Abuse.
This event, slated for 9 a.m. at Piscataquis Community Middle School, is the 10th race in the Sub 5 Track Club’s series and it will celebrate its fifth birthday.
The course is flat and fast and follows the Piscataquis River along the scenic trail and passes by the Piscataquis River Covered Bridge.
The route is certified by the Sub 5 Track Club, and water spots and mile markers will line the route.
Registration is $15, begins at 8 a.m. on race morning, and donations are welcome. Sub 5 member and runner Chris Almy encourages all local runners to participate.
A 5K will also be offered, and that race will also start at 9.
Any questions, or to obtain a registration form, contact Womancare at 564-8165.