BELFAST — Even though Maggie Bryan had a look of quiet confidence heading into Saturday’s Class B girls cross country state championships, the John Bapst senior’s expectations were somewhat realistic.
“We weren’t expecting to win,” Bryan said. “I don’t think we had any real particular expectations.”
It turns out the Crusaders would exceed their aspirations by winning the program’s first state championship since 2004, ending Cape Elizabeth’s two-year reign with a 72-78 victory.
“I just started running around and hugging everyone,” Bryan said. “We all started screaming and jumping around.
Mount Desert Island was third in Class B with 112 points, while Falmouth (141) and Yarmouth (146) rounded out the top five, with Hampden finishing sixth and Caribou seventh.
The Western Maine teams were atop the podium in Classes A and C, with Cheverus of Portland and the Merriconeag-Waldorf School of New Gloucester, respectively, claiming those titles.
While John Bapst was aided by Adrienne Carmack finishing sixth overall and third among scoring runners and Amanda Lalime seventh, Bryan and classmate Laura Donovan both ran out of their shoes. Bryan finished 11th, two spots behind Cape’s No. 3 girl, while Donovan was 29th compared to a 37th-place run by the Capers’ No. 5 runner.
Those efforts, coupled with Mary Carmack finishing 22nd, proved to be the difference for coach Joe Capehart’s Crusaders.
“We came in expecting that we would all do our best, and whatever happens, happens,” Donovan said.
Donovan and Emily Lobosco of Cape Elizabeth were close early in the race before the Crusaders’ senior made her move just after the mile.
John Bapst has built quite a dynasty in outdoor track and field with eight Class C state championships since 2002. But in cross country, the Crusaders were facing more of a challenge.
“I don’t know, it’s different, plus it’s Class B so that makes it all the more sweeter,” Bryan said.
Even after the race, the Crusaders had no idea how the team standings would shake down, and didn’t know how to react when Capehart delivered the news.
“We were all getting our (warmup) clothes back on and our coach came over and told us we won,” Donovan said.
Bapst’s other two finishers were Alyssa Monroe and Mary Kashkooli, who were 57th and 58th, respectively.
The third time proved to be special for Old Town’s Dacie Manion in the individual race, as she not only won that race in 18 minutes, 50.41 seconds, she broke the 19-minute barrier in her third crack at the 5-kilometer Belfast course.
“When I first saw the clock it was 18:20, last week it was like 18:40 and I just barely missed it,” said Manion, referring to an open downhill about 200 meters from the finish line where the clock comes into view.
Manion led from wire to wire, and pulled away from Maranacook of Readfield’s Abby Mace about a mile into the race.
“I was surprised, she’s a really fast starter, but I just ran my race the whole time,” Manion said.
Mace finished second while Brittany Bowman of Camden Hills of Rockport was third, followed by Ellsworth’s Aleta Looker in fourth, with Presque Isle’s Alecia Palmer finishing seventh.
In Class C, Carsyn Koch of Washburn continued to assert herself among Maine’s elite schoolgirl runners, as she won going away in 19:36.50, while teammate Carmen Bragg was third.
Not bad, seeing as how the Beavers played a soccer semifinal against Ashland on Friday, and Koch and Bragg subsequently hit the road to Belfast after that game.
“I had so much adrenaline going through my legs, it doesn’t matter if I was tired, I was going out hard anyway,” Koch said.
Right when the gun was fired, Koch blasted away from the field and never looked back. She enjoyed plenty of hugs from family and friends after the race.
“I had a lot of support. My family supports me a lot,” she said.
George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill’s Nicole Bakeman was the next Eastern Maine individual in 11th place, while Merriconeag held off Waynflete of Portland 46-52. Lee Academy was fifth with 145 points.
In Class A, it was nearly a record-setting day for one of the nation’s top schoolgirl runners in Kennebunk junior Abbey Leonardi. She who won her third state title in as many years in 17:49.01, just off the course record of 17:48.
Emily Durgin, who finished second, led Cheverus to its second straight team title as the Stags edged Mount Ararat of Topsham 45-68.
Brewer was the lone local team in the field, and the Witches finished 12th, led by Michelle Haluska’s 31st-place effort.