Carsyn Koch’s weekly schedule is going to be a hectic one the next couple of weeks, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Washburn High freshman will not only be training for Saturday’s Class C cross country state championships in Belfast, but will be on the soccer field today when the Beavers meet Deer Isle-Stonington in a Class D quarterfinal match.
Koch is coming off a special weekend in which she won individual honors at the Eastern Maine Class C race in Belfast by more than a minute. That gained some recognition for the Beavers’ cross country program, which is fielding a squad for the first time in seven years.
Koch was admittedly nervous before she headed out onto the 5K course at the Troy Howard Middle School, but she knew it was her chance to show Maine’s cross country following what Washburn could do.
“(Coach Mike) Waugh, as he put it, (people) don’t really know Washburn has a team, but let’s go out there and show them that we have a team,” said Koch.
Koch did that and then some, winning her race in 20 minutes, 14.15 seconds while going out aggressively hard and pulling away early.
That style is nothing new to Washburn coach Mike Waugh.
“She’s fearless. She’ll go out and push herself and see what her limit is, and not a lot of kids will do that,” Waugh said.
Washburn’s squad has four girls, including Koch, and six boys, which is enough to field a team score in cross country.
The problem for the Beavers on Saturday was that three of those runners, Kyle McLaughlin, Kyle Huston and Nick Bragg, also play soccer, and Washburn had a preliminary game Saturday against Shead.
The Beavers’ other boys runners are Cameron Huston, Kyle’s brother; Kevin Carlson, and Garth Kinney, while the other girls are Anna Carlson, Carmen Bragg and Nicole Olsen.
Despite having some athletes play two sports, the new cross country program received strong support from Superintendent Edward Buckley and Athletic Director Ron Ericson, according to Waugh, who added that “this is a good start for us.”
Having a regional individual champion is an even better one, and Koch will be one of the favorites for state-championship honors on Saturday.
Not bad for someone who didn’t expect to be in this position in August.
“At the beginning, I was like, this will only help my soccer. I was thinking of cross country as I want to do cross country, and then I as I got later on in the season, I started to like running, and now, I really like running,” Koch said.
Koch, Bragg and Olsen are all on the Washburn girls soccer team, but Koch said the practice schedule is fairly flexible.
“Usually I’ll go to cross country that first 45 minutes, then have probably 40 minutes of soccer,” she said. “One thing that’s good, in a small school we have, Mr. Ericson and all the teachers and the coaches, they’re all working together to make sure Washburn has the best sports program.”
That could be the case this week because if Washburn wins its soccer game Tuesday, its semifinal game would be Friday, thus allowing Koch and Bragg, who finished third in Class C and also qualified individually, to compete Saturday.
With this type of start, don’t be surprised if Washburn’s program keeps getting better over the next few years, especially with Koch having three more years of high school.
“I think we’re going to get more kids (in the future),” Waugh said.
Girls soccer quarterfinals today
The Bangor girls soccer team’s drive for an Eastern Maine Class A championship kicks off today when coach Joe Johnson’s undefeated Rams (12-0-2) entertain Mt. Blue of Farmington in a 5 p.m. quarterfinal matchup.
The second-ranked Rams tied the Cougars 3-3 in Farmington and beat them 4-1 in the Queen City, and thanks to that stalemate on Sept. 10, the Rams aren’t looking ahead.
“You don’t want to let up, things can happen, a lower seed can beat you, you just have to play your hardest every game,” senior forward Kim Jordan said after Bangor’s regular-season finale last week.
The Bangor-Mt. Blue matchup is one of 16 girls quarterfinals taking place throughout eastern Maine today.
The Rams have been consistent on both sides of the ball this fall, racking up 72 goals while recording nine shutouts, including two against third-seeded Waterville.
“I’d say we feel confident, we just have to keep working and not think that we’re the best and just stay where we are right now,” Jordan said.
Jordan, Grace Maclean and Ashley Robinson are a dynamite trio in Bangor’s attack while Denae Johnson, Liz Hintz and Erin Boulier anchor the defense in front of goalkeeper Mia Smith.
“I think that we’re going to do really well. I’ve never been on a team this good,” senior midfielder Shannon Broznya said.
The Rams are also comfortable knowing they could play at least two games at home.
“It’s great, you just know you’re on your home field, you have all your fans, you’re just comfortable with it,” said Jordan.
Also in Class A, fifth-ranked Hampden takes on No. 4 Morse of Bath.
Elsewhere around Eastern Maine, top-ranked Caribou hosts No. 8 Ellsworth in a Class B matchup.
The Vikings defeated the Eagles in Ellsworth 3-0 in September, but coach Jen Myers’ Eagles are confident.
“They’re a good team, we’re going to have our work cut out for us but I think we can do it,” said senior back Holly Wadman.
Ellsworth’s young defense will have the daunting task of containing a lethal Caribou attack led by senior striker Jenna Selander.
“I like the way my kids are playing, and I think if we put 80 good minutes together, our chances are good against anybody,” Myers said.
The Class B bracket also features a match showcasing the last two Eastern Maine champions as third-ranked Presque Isle meets No. 6 Winslow, while No. 7 John Bapst of Bangor faces No. 2 Camden Hills of Rockport and No. 5 Hermon hits the road to face No. 4 Gardiner.
In Class C, two-time defending champion Orono takes on No. 7 Washington Academy of East Machias, while top-ranked Fort Kent — with just two losses to Class B Presque Isle — takes on ninth-seeded Penquis of Milo.
And in Class D, which features a wide-open bracket, No. 2 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook, the two-time defending state champion, kicks off its title defense against No. 7 Bangor Christian.
Top-ranked Ashland, which survived an upset bid by Fort Fairfield on Oct. 18, meets No. 8 Schenck of East Millinocket, while the other matchups feature No. 6 Fort Fairfield facing No. 3 Van Buren and fourth-ranked Washburn hosting No. 5 Deer Isle-Stonington.