BELFAST, Maine — It wasn’t a day fit for man or beast at Saturday’s Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions.
A fierce blend of rain and wind through the first couple of races reduced the Troy Howard Middle School course to a 3.1-mile quagmire, but Emily Durgin from Cheverus of Portland and Will Geoghegan of Brunswick had very few navigational problems.
Geoghegan established two records with an outstanding effort over a sloppy course, traversing the 5,000 meters in 15 minutes, 33 seconds, and breaking the course and meet record set in 2004 by Levi Miller of Belfast (15:35).
That goal seemed a little bit out of reach throughout the day, as some heavy rain pounded the course during the unseeded races and first freshman race, but Geoghegan ran aggressively out of the gate, clocking a 4:44 first mile and a 9:58 after two miles with the help of some new spikes.
“Last year it was pretty muddy, too, and I didn’t really have great footing, so this year I went with some half-inch spikes so it really helped,” said Geoghegan.
Throughout the race, Geoghegan was vigorously pursued by Mt. Blue of Farmington’s Kelton Cullenberg, who finished second, and Nate Hathaway of Scarborough, who took third. Geoghegan started to pull away slightly just after a rolling hill in the woods just beyond the 2-mile mark.
“I knew had to push it so it wouldn’t have to come down to a 200-meter kick,” said Geoghegan, noting that Cullenberg and Hathaway both have outstanding speed over the last quarter-mile.
Hathaway’s Scarborough Red Storm came away with their second straight meet title in the team competition, outlasting Dr. J.H. Gillis High of Nova Scotia 182-186 in a close battle.
Edward Little of Auburn also had 186, but the Canadians earned second on the sixth-runner tiebreaker.
Brunswick was fourth with 218 while Gorham’s 220 rounded out the top five.
Caribou finished ninth while Hampden Academy was 10th to lead Eastern Maine teams.
The girls meet turned out to be a gold-and-blue sweep, as individual champ Durgin led four Cheverus Stags in the top nine as they easily won with 79 points.
John Bapst of Bangor emerged runner-up in a great battle for second with 174 points, while Gorham took third with 178.
Scarborough was fourth with 195 points, and Mt. Blue earned fifth with 207.
Brewer captured sixth with 249 points, while MDI (eighth) and Ellsworth (10th) also cracked the top 10.
Durgin, a sophomore who transferred to Cheverus from Bonny Eagle after an outstanding freshman campaign, overcame a stumble early in the race while outlasting classmates Abby Mace of Maranacook of Readfield and teammate Fiona Hendry to win in 18:34.
Durgin exploded at the gun and went through the mile in 5:34, roughly eight strides ahead of Mace and Hendry, but after Durgin took her tumble, her two pursuers started to gain some ground on a long, gradual uphill just more than a mile in.
“In that straightaway they caught up and then they were with me that whole second mile,” Durgin said. “And then once I got to the second mile I told myself I had to go.”
Mace wound up second while Hendry was third, Liana Rubinhoff of Cheverus fourth and Gorham’s Rachel Wilkinson fifth.
Old Town junior Dacie Manion, who has been burning up the trails in the PVC this fall, ran her best race of the season in finishing an impressive sixth in 19:44.
“That’s my best time by 10 seconds, in states last year I was 19:50, so I did a lot better today,” said Manion.
In the team race, Cheverus showed why it was heavily favored, as ninth-place finisher Amelia Lundkvist joined Durgin, Hendry and Rubinoff in the top 10.
“I could tell Cheverus had won as soon as I saw the [four] people up there,” said John Bapst sophomore Mary Carmack.
That’s not to say Carmack’s Crusaders didn’t run well, as coach Joe Capehart decided to take advantage of his depth and run 11 girls in the seeded race. In this meet, coaches can run as many individuals in the seeded race as they choose, compared to the normal seven in regular competitions.
Carmack led Bapst with her 22nd-place finish while Sarah Dickens and Adrienne Carmack — who won the freshman race — came in 26-27 overall, with Kim Spencer in 36th and Jennie Wainer in 63rd rounding out the scorers.
The results from the unseeded, freshman and seeded races are combined to score the meet.
Sara Chavarie finished 13th overall to lead Brewer to its sixth-place finish.
Kathryn Purcell of Nova Scotia went on to capture the unseeded race.
In the boys meet, Jason Kaake of Morse of Bath overcame an early stumble to finish fourth while 2008 champ Alex Moser of York was fifth.
Gabe Stewart of John Bapst led his PVC brethren with an eighth-place run, while Ryan James of Belfast was ninth, Hampden’s Darik Frye 10th and Sam Nisbett of Bangor 12th.
Hampden and Caribou, which appear to be the two top teams in Eastern Class B, were separated by only 12 points.
Ethan Law of Scarborough won the unseeded race while Kyle Holyoke of Brewer was second. Trevor Crawley of Cumberland, R.I., captured the freshman race.