BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School boys cross country squad used a team-first approach last fall en route to winning its first Eastern Maine Class A championship since 2000.
Rather than rely on one or two elite runners to carry the team, the Rams employed a pack mentality that fostered enough depth to earn coach Adam Goode’s club not only its regional title — its five scoring runners at that meet finished just 35 seconds apart — but also a second-place finish at the state meet just 14 points behind Scarborough, which won the title for the sixth time in the last eight years.
It’s a similar approach Bangor hopes to take this fall as it prepares to open its season with a home meet Friday afternoon.
“I try to remind them of what was successful last year and what wasn’t successful last year,” said Goode, who is being assisted this fall by fellow former Bangor runner Casey Dunn.
Bangor will be led by junior Jonathan Stanhope, who finished 12th at last year’s state meet and has the fourth-fastest time of Class A runners returning this year. Sophomore Jacob Archer and junior Caleb Halvorson-Fried also are back from last year’s top seven scoring runners, while other veterans include juniors Ben Salinas and Peter Manuel and 2011 team captain Nils Wahlstrom.
The Rams also should be bolstered by the recruitment by current team members of several runners with track and field backgrounds but little cross country experience who could emerge once they adjust to the longer distances.
“We’ve got three seniors who hadn’t run cross country before as well as five freshmen,” said Goode of his 18-runner roster. “People think that running is just pain, and in some sports it’s used as punishment so sometimes it gets a bad reputation.
“But what we try to tell kids is that it’s not just pain, it’s only painful a couple of times a week and the rest of the week it’s fun. We just want everyone to relax and have fun with it.”
Bangor figures to be one of the leading contenders in Eastern Maine Class A again this fall along with Lewiston, Mount Ararat of Topsham and Mt. Blue of Farmington.
“The expectations are higher this year, but there will be some bumps in the road,” said Goode. “There will be good days, and there will be times when things don’t go as well. That’s part of running.”
The Bangor girls cross country team, 11 members strong, also opens its 2012 season at home Friday. The Rams will be led by juniors Kristen Robbins and Angelyn Masters and sophomore Kathryn Nagle.
Update: This story has been updated to correct Jonathan Stanhope’s finish in last year’s state meet.