BELFAST, Maine — The Ellsworth High School boys cross-country team has been building steadily this fall, all the while waiting for some injured runners to recover in time for the major postseason races.
The Eagles got a clean bill of health on the muddiest of courses Saturday, dominating the field to win the Eastern Maine Class B championship at the Troy Howard Middle School.
Class A Lewiston and Class C Orono also earned regional titles amid warm, slick, muddy conditions that produced slow times and hefty laundry bills.
“I think this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everybody, it was just so bad out there,” said Orono senior Tyler White, the Class C individual champion. “You just have to know going in that times don’t matter, it’s about your place, and for just finishing the race everyone should get a medal.”
Led by race-winner Dan Curts, Ellsworth placed five runners in the top 10 while scoring just 27 points, 100 points ahead of defending champion Caribou, the runner-up.
Robert Looker finished third and Brayden Beardsley fourth for the Eagles, with Frank King ninth and Cooper Holmes 10th to complete the team scoring.
“Everyone knew all of our guys could run top 20, even top 10 if they ran well,” said Curts, a junior who finished the 3.1-mile route in 16 minutes, 49.68 seconds, the top time of the day regardless of class. “We had five in the top 10 today, and we’re really happy with that.”
Ron Lund led Caribou’s effort with an eighth-place finish while teammate Brendan Cyr was 12th.
Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor, sparked by Jordan Harris’ sixth-place run, was third with 138 points, while Winslow (141), John Bapst of Bangor (143), Camden Hills of Rockport (164) and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (184) were next.
Camden Hills’ Ben Trapani, the KVAC Class B champion, finished second to Curts at the regional in 17:39.93.
Lewiston placed four runners in the top 10 to win the Eastern A crown, defeating defending champion Bangor 59-83.
“We were pretty close together throughout the whole race,” said Isaiah Harris, a Lewiston sophomore who finished third, just behind second-place teammate Mohamed Awil. “I think we could see each other the whole race. We didn’t plan on it, but that’s how it worked out.”
Senior Mohamed Barre placed sixth for the Blue Devils, while junior Mohamed Mohamed was 10th and senior Jordan Balsamo rounded out Lewiston’s scoring contingent in 38th place.
Mount Ararat junior Sam Wood won the Eastern A boys individual title in 17:00.81.
Bangor, which finished 41 points behind Lewiston while placing third at last week’s KVAC championships, narrowed that margin at the regional behind the top-20 finishes of Jonathan Stanhope (seventh), Jacob Archer (13th), Colin Glencross (15th) and Caleb Halvorson-Fried (18th).
“Lewiston is very good and they have four very good runners along with a solid fifth and sixth who don’t waver much and know their roles very well, said Bangor coach Adam Goode. “But I feel like we closed the gap on a very good team and I’m proud of them.”
Mount Ararat of Topsham (89), Mt. Blue of Farmington (91), Hampden Academy (96), Brewer (136) and Brunswick (162) also earned berths to the state championship meet.
Hampden placed two runners among the top five in fourth-place Caleb Lord and fifth-place Nick Kopf, while Brewer was led by Luke Rand and Tristan Walden, who finished 19th and 20th, respectively.
In Class C, White led a pack of seven Orono runners among the top 19 finishers with his first-place time of 17:27.97.
Brian Westhoven placed sixth for Orono, while Schuyler Collett (eighth), Josh Marquis (ninth), James O’Neill (12th), Conall Malloy (13th) and Liam Kenefic (19th) also helped the Red Riots finish with 30 points, well ahead of 2011 regional champion Bangor Christian (60).
“We have guys battling it out for every position, and it just helps the team morale because everyone wants to get better,” said White. “We really wanted this, and our coaches put us in a great position to do it.”
George Stevens of Blue Hill (107), Fort Kent (127) and Bucksport (157) rounded out the top five Class C teams.
Bangor Christian had three top-10 finishers with Dylan Merchant placing third, Sam Proctor fourth and Zack Palmeter seventh.
Others among the race’s all-senior top five were runner-up Sam Stahnke of George Stevens and fifth-place Josh Wheeler of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.