BELFAST, Maine — Cross country often is defined on individual terms — think of the loneliness of the long-distance runner.
But teamwork was the key ingredient for the Bangor High School boys cross country team Saturday as it won its first Eastern Maine Class A championship since 2000.
Led by sophomore Jonathan Stanhope, the Rams’ five scoring runners all finished within 35 seconds of each other as Bangor edged second-place Mount Ararat of Topsham 91-103 on the 3.1-mile course at the Troy Howard Middle School.
“I knew we had this in us from the start of the season,” said Stanhope, who placed 10th overall. “From the first day of practice we had a new atmosphere with a new coach (Adam Goode). He’s brought us hard-work values, and we knew we we were going to win this.”
Bangor was joined as an Eastern Maine schoolboy champion by Caribou in Class B and Bangor Christian in Class C.
With Stanhope pulling along his teammates, Bangor was able to avenge a narrow loss to Mount Ararat at last week’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship.
The chief beneficiary of the Rams’ pack mentality was senior David Correale, who cut 50 seconds off his personal-best time for the distance to finish second on the team and 15th overall, while Jonathan Belanger (18th), Jacob Archer (23rd) and Caleb Halvorson-Fried (24th) rounded out the Rams’ scoring contingent.
“A lot of runners go into a race wanting to run their fastest individual time,” said Goode, “but I think they understood coming into this race that it’s more about the team all running well. I think David ran a very fast PR for himself because of the teamwork we had.”
Mount Ararat was led by third-place Andy Reifman-Packett, but the Eagles placed just three runners among the top 30 finishers.
Harlow Ladd of Messalonskee of Oakland won the individual title in 16 minutes, 41.34 seconds, four seconds faster than runner-up Benson Worthington of Brunswick.
Joining Bangor and Mount Ararat as qualifiers for Saturday’s Class A state meet at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland were Messalonskee (109), Lewiston (122), Hampden Academy (136) and Brunswick (146).
CARIBOU, the defending Class B state champion, edged Ellsworth 55-59 to win the Eastern B crown.
It was the second straight tight race between the teams, as Caribou edged the Eagles by five points at last week’s Penobscot Valley Conference meet.
“We knew coming in they’d be close with us, it’s been that way the whole season,” said Caribou junior Ron Lund. “We knew we were going to have to dig in and give it all we got.”
The Vikings placed all five scoring runners in the top 20, led by senior Caleb Chapman, who finished fourth despite enduring inflammation in his left Achilles tendon since midweek.
“I was running with my team at practice Wednesday and all of a sudden it started hurting so bad I had to stop,” he said. “I went in and got some therapy on it and ran with a brace today and didn’t feel a thing during the race. I think it was because of the adrenaline.”
Lund finished seventh for the Vikings, followed by Lucas Kinney (12th), Jesse Sandstrom (13th) and Ryan Washington (20th).
That was just enough to defeat Ellsworth, which featured individual champion Dan Curts, a sophomore who finished in 16:41.9, and 11th-place Robert Looker.
Matt Eager of Presque Isle was second, with Alex Beals of John Bapst of Bangor third.
Joining Caribou and Ellsworth at the Class B state meet will be John Bapst (108), Mount Desert Island (131), Waterville (150), Winslow (173), Presque Isle (179) and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (197).
BANGOR CHRISTIAN dominated the Class C race, defeating second-place Orono 33-77.
“I thought we ran great, said BC sophomore Zac Palmeter, who finished fifth overall. “We all ran close to each other and I think that’s what won it for us because we pushed each other.”
Junior Sam Proctor led the Patriots with a fourth-place finish, followed by Palmeter, Dylan Merchant (seventh), Seth Pearson (eighth), Brian Parent (18th) and Jace Schmidt (28th) as Bangor Christian overcame the continued loss of top runner Bradley Wilcox due to a leg injury.
“We won (the PVC small-school division) without Brad last week,” said Proctor. “We got a huge confidence boost from that and knew we could do it again today.”
Matt Guiod of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln won the ‘C’ boys race in 17:27.54, followed by Orono’s Tyler White and Forrest Carle of Calais.
BC, Orono, Mattanawcook (75), Sumner of East Sullivan (127) and Central of Corinth (128) all qualified for states.