What a difference two weeks makes.
After finishing behind Mt. Blue of Farmington and Brunswick at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions, the Brewer girls didn’t panic.
They kept on training, realizing late October is the best time to peak.
So far, so good for the Witches as they took first-place honors at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center course, nipping the runner-up Cougars 60 points to 66.
This was Brewer’s first KVAC crown. It joined the conference last fall and finished second in the championships.
Brunswick took third with 96 points in the Class A competition, while Mount Ararat of Topsham was fourth with 102 and Bangor fifth with 152. Hampden Academy tallied 199 points to finish seventh among 13 teams.
Lewiston cruised to the boys crown with 60 points. Brunswick finished second with 97, Hampden Academy third with 118, Cony of Augusta fourth (126) and Mt. Blue fifth (142).
The Medomak Valley of Waldoboro girls and Maranacook of Readfield boys won the Class B races.
In the girls meet, the Witches got their championship season brewing on a strong note as Michelle Haluska ran to third place in 21 minutes, 10.3 seconds while senior Kaitlin Noyes and freshman Sara Chavarie finished 10th and 11th, respectively, in the 5-kilometer race.
Brewer’s Nos. 2 and 3 runners did a solid job of feeding off Haluska’s effort.
“I think so,” Haluska said. “Sara actually stayed with me in the beginning and Kaitlin was right there, too.”
Seniors Caitlyn Wilson (17th), Katie Snow (19th) and Brooke Madden (23rd) rounded out the lineup for coach Glendon Rand.
“We tried not to go out too fast and tried to run the middle part of course hard, which I thought we did pretty well,” Rand said.
He was also pleased with the fact Haluska was closer to the lead pack, led by Maranacook’s Abby Mace, Mt. Blue’s Melody Lam and Mount Ararat’s Kate Spies.
“Michelle was up closer to front of pack than she had been and the other girls really packed it in well behind her,” said Rand. “I think we’re just getting into peak condition.”
Brewer’s pack time — the difference between the first and fifth runners — was solid. The spread between Haluska and Snow was 1:35.
“I think that was probably one of the ways that we won, breaking up other team’s packs,” said Haluska.
Lam led all Class A runners with a 20:37 clocking while “B” champ Mace was timed in 19:24.
The Class A and B runners all ran together, but the respective meets were scored separately.
Kendall Lunn was Bangor’s top runner, finishing 15th, while Blakelee Jordan led Hampden in 21st.
On the boys side, Lewiston tucked three runners in the top 10 and all five Blue Devils finished ahead of Brunswick’s No. 5 man.
Robbie Leeman, Matt Driscoll and Faisal Abdillhai spearheaded coach Roy Putnam’s pack with a 5-7-9 finish while Hussain Ibrahim took 11th.
Brunswick’s Will Geoghegan took individual honors in 16:44.3.
Evan Piccirillo and Michael Bommarito sparked Hampden’s third-place effort by finishing 13th and 14th, respectively.
Sam Nisbett finished 12th to lead Bangor, which wound up 11th, while Evan Taylor’s 29th-place finish led ninth-place Brewer.