BELFAST, Maine — The mud and moisture that dominated the proceedings at Saturday’s Eastern Maine cross-country championships may have discomforted the fans who lined the Troy Howard Middle School course, but for the participants such conditions were merely another part of the challenge.
And for most of the runners it was part of the fun, too.
Carsyn Koch and Carmen Bragg, who helped Washburn win the Eastern Maine C girls championship, were among several runners from that team to playfully pay homage to the sloppy conditions by donning “eye mud” — a riff on the eye black often worn by athletes.
“It was like running in peanut butter,” said Koch. “Every single step the mud would try to suck you in, and I usually tried to stay on the high side of the course but there were times you just had to say the heck with it and go right through the peanut butter.”
Class A Hampden Academy and Class B Camden Hills of Rockport also won regional championships, while the top 50 percent of the teams and top 30 individuals from each race earned tickets to next Saturday’s state championship meet, scheduled to be held on the same 3.1-mile route.
Hampden, which finished a close third to Mount Ararat of Topsham and Brunswick in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championships on Oct. 13, edged those same rivals by two points to win its regional title.
Each of the top three teams had two finishers among the top seven. But Hampden’s depth proved pivotal, including the Broncos’ fifth runner, junior Roxy Winters, who finished two spots ahead of Mount Ararat’s fifth runner and six points ahead of Brunswick’s final scorer.
The Broncos were paced by senior Kylee Parker and sophomore Elizabeth Lebun, who largely ran together and finished third and fourth behind race winner Erzsebet Nagy of Lawrence of Fairfield (20:10.33) and runner-up Tessa Cassidy, a freshman from Brunswick timed in 20:36.1.
Junior Sarah Tatgenhorst followed Parker and Lebun across the finish line for Hampden in 12th place, while freshman Bryanna Parker and Winters finished together in 23rd and 24th place to supply the depth needed for Hampden to finish with 63 points, compared to 65 each for Mount Ararat and Brunswick.
The most anticipated race of the day may have been the Eastern B girls clash between defending state champion Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor and Camden Hills, which edged the Trojans by one point to win last year’s regional crown.
Neither team, as it turned out, was at full strength, but Camden Hills finished with 51 points to outdistance Waterville (65), MDI (78) and Caribou (81) for its second straight EM championship.
The Windjammers were led by junior Brittany Bowman, who finished third behind race winner Bethanie Brown of Waterville (18:46.11) and runner-up Aleta Looker of Ellsworth (20:14.21).
Emily Lopez (sixth), Hannah Brownawell (seventh), Samantha Morse (14th) and Lily Kassen (27th) also had scoring finishes for the Windjammers, who overcame the loss of freshman Jacqueline Russell — a top-five runner for the team — due to illness midway through the race.
“It’s a great group of girls, they’ve worked so hard,” said Camden Hills coach Becky Flanagan, whose team had won the KVAC Class B title a week earlier. “We took it easy this week, I let them recover and they weren’t too happy with me. But all is well.”
MDI was without its top runner, Maggie Painter, who was sidelined by illness, but the Trojans got top-10 finishes from Waylon Henggeler and Olivia Erickson, who finished eighth and ninth.
MDI coach Desiree Sirois said Painter is expected to be back for the state meet.
Mackenzie Belyea of Caribou finished fourth in the Class B race, while Abby Hersom of Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston placed fifth.
Koch, the two-time defending Class C individual state champion, was one of five Washburn girls to place among the top 16 in the final race of the day with her winning time of 20:57.14.
Bragg, like Koch a junior, finished third, while sophomore Mackenzie Worcester (fifth), freshman Emilia Churchill (10th) and sophomore Hannah Heald (16th) helped the Beavers defeat second-place Orono 28-41.
“It was so muddy that it made it a completely different race based on strength more than how fast you can run,” said Worcester. “It really affected every runner pretty much and made your legs feel extra tired so you couldn’t run as fast.”
Lily Koffman placed second and Jordan Richards sixth to lead Orono’s effort, while Madison McVicar of Calais also had a top-five effort, finishing fourth in the Class C field.