Maine runners in national meets

Posted Dec. 11, 2009, at 11 p.m.

The indoor track and field season is just getting under way for many of Maine’s high school runners, but for a select few, the cross country season isn’t over yet.

Some of the state’s best will compete in national championship meets in Nevada and San Diego on Saturday.

Sophomores Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk and Emily Durgin of Cheverus of Portland are set to run in the Footlocker National Championship race at Balboa Park in San Diego while five runners representing the Augusta-based Lakers Track Club will compete in the 17-18 (young women) division at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic championships in Reno, Nev.

The Lakers’ team is made up of Melissa Dellatore of Scarborough, Mt. Blue of Farmington’s Melody Lam, Morgan Beede from Cony of Augusta, Lauren Fecteau and Brenda McCarthy.

The team qualified for Saturday’s race by placing second in the Region I championship meet held earlier this fall in Augusta.

In order to raise money for the trip, Lam and Mt. Blue teammate Addie Cullenberg held a trail race in Farmington last weekend, which drew nearly 50 participants, including a runner from Oregon.

Cullenberg will race as an individual in the Intermediate (15-16) class by virtue of a third-place finish in the Region I meet.

Cullenberg will run at 1 p.m. Western time while the Lakers’ 17-18 squad will run an hour later at 2.

Meanwhile, one state away in California, two of Maine’s best runners will be the first Maine schoolgirl runners to compete on high school cross country’s grandest stage since Gladys Ganiel of Narraguagus of Harrington in 1994.

Ben True of Greely qualified for the national championships in 2003.

Leonardi, the Class A state champion, took the New England meet off to focus on the Footlocker meets, and it has paid big dividends, as she placed second at the Northeast Region championships on Long Island in November, completing the 5K course in 18 minutes, 31 seconds.

The only runner to finish ahead of her was Aisling Cuffe of New York (17:45.9), the second-ranked schoolgirl runner in the nation.

Leonardi is ranked No. 17 in the country.

Durgin, who captured New England and Western Maine Class A individual championships this fall, finished seventh in the Northeast meet in 18:38.7.

Durgin helped lead Cheverus to the program’s first-ever state championship, the first girls program at the school to capture a state title.

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