BELFAST — In cross country, a team’s sixth and seventh runners can get occasionally lost in the shuffle.
That’s because five runners comprise a squad’s score, and a tie in this sport is very rare.
That rarity happened Saturday, and Brewer High School No. 6 runner Ashley Geiser was the center of attention.
The Witches and Massabesic of Waterboro had finished in a deadlock for runner-up honors in the Class A state championship race at Troy Howard Middle School, but Brewer earned second place as Geiser finished 39th, 10 places ahead of the Mustangs’ sixth runner.
“I didn’t expect it at all. I’m just glad I could help my team out,” said Geiser, who then offered a message to those who may think the sixth and seventh runners don’t matter.
“Everyone counts,” she continued.
Brewer finished second to a tough Scarborough team. The Red Storm compiled 85 points to the Witches’ 134.
Mt. Blue of Farmington was fourth in the 15-team field with 162 points.
Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete of Portland won in Classes B and C.
Class A: Brewer’s five-runner senior class certainly went out on an exuberant note, as the Witches brought home state-meet hardware for the first time since winning it all back in 1997.
“It feels amazing. We’ve worked so hard over the past four years,” said senior co-captain Caitlyn Wilson, Brewer’s No. 4 runner in 33rd place (39th overall).
Michelle Haluska, a sophomore, led Brewer’s pack with a 16th-place finish while freshman Sara Chavarie was 22nd and senior Kaitlin Noyes 28th.
Seniors Brooke Madden in 35th and Katie Snow in 46th rounded out the lineup.
The Witches had a solid spread of 1 minute, 5 seconds between No. 1 Haluska and No. 5 Madden, and with no true top-5 frontrunner, the team ran with a pack-first mentality.
“I guess it’s a true definition of team when every kid counts,” coach Glendon Rand said.
Wilson, Geiser and Snow have been teammates since middle school, so they couldn’t have scripted a better final chapter to a long story of cross country memories.
Scarborough’s Red Storm tucked four runners in the top 20, led by Whitney Chamberlain’s 11th-place finish, for the first Class A state title in program history and first title since 1999, when Scarborough was in Class B.
Kennebunk’s Abbey Leonardi captured the individual title in 18 minutes, 2.97 seconds, good for the day’s fastest time over the 5,000-meter course.
Class C: While Waynflete, led by individual winner Adele Espy, ran away with its second consecutive state title, 49-80 over Monmouth Academy, Fort Kent’s Grace Boutot proved her ski training is paying dividends on the running trails.
Boutot, a top biathlete, didn’t do any running all week due to her ski training, but that didn’t stop her from finishing second to Espy in 20:21.95.
Espy was timed in 19:04.27.
“I tried to stay with her through the first mile. I knew she was going to be pretty fast,” Boutot said.
She stuck on Espy’s shoulder through a mile, going through in 5:50.
“That’s about 15 seconds faster than I normally go out,” she admitted. “We hit that first mile pretty fast and it tired me out.”
Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln was the top EM team with 99 points in fourth place.
Class B: Cape Elizabeth displayed the power that has made it the state’s top team.
The Capers won easily, 36-116 over runner-up Greely of Cumberland Center while Eastern Maine champ Mount Desert Island was fifth with 148 points.
Maranacook of Readfield’s Abby Mace cruised to the individual win in 18:48.59 with Cape Elizabeth’s Emily Atwood finishing second in 19:23.74.
Ellsworth’s Brianne Dunn was third, Sarah Dickens of John Bapst of Bangor was seventh and Dacie Manion of Old Town placed eighth.