BELFAST, Maine — Maggie Painter could only watch a week ago as her teammates ran to a second-place finish at the Eastern Maine B girls cross country championships.
But back in good health on Saturday, the Mount Desert Island junior played a leading role as the Trojans won their second straight state title at the Troy Howard Middle School.
Painter finished 11th overall, leading a pack of five scoring MDI runners who finished within 34.03 seconds of each other as the Trojans comfortably outdistanced second-place Camden Hills of Rockport — the Eastern Maine champ — by a score of 67-99.
“I think it was really good to take a week and see how everyone else did,” said Painter, one of the elder stateswomen on an MDI team that fielded no seniors among its varsity contingent. “I love watching this team, they’ve worked so hard last week and this week and I was so happy I could join them this week because they’re all so amazing and mean so much to me.”
Other girls’ team champions were Bonny Eagle of Standish in Class A and Washburn in Class C, while Erzsebet Nagy of Lawrence of Fairfield, Bethanie Brown of Waterville and Carsyn Koch of Washburn won individual titles.
MDI’s top five runners all finished between 11th and 22nd place among the Class B race’s 103 finishers, a quality of depth neither Camden Hills nor third-place Waterville (109) could match.
“We don’t really try to stay together, but I think it just happens because we all push each other in practice so we stay together in practice and we stay together in races,” said MDI junior Isabel Erickson, who finished 19th. “No one wants to be the person who falls behind, so everyone works together and pushes each other.”
Other scoring finishers for the Trojans were sophomore Waylon Henggeler (12th), junior Olivia Erickson (16th) and sophomore Caroline Driscoll (22nd).
“We just really try to focus not on the competition but on doing the best for yourself and for the team,” said MDI coach Desiree Sirois. “We don’t really look at what team we have to beat but we say, ‘OK, how are you going to show up on race day, how are you going to feel, how do you want to end your season, what can you do for myself and your team?’ If you get to the end of the race and you know you’ve given everything for the team, then you’ve won.”
Brown completed the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 56.32 seconds, the fastest girls time of the day, to win the Class B individual title, with Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely of Cumberland Center second in 19:01.19 and Brittany Bowman of Camden Hills third in 19:19.18.
“I was trying to go out a little slower than I did [while winning the Festival of Champions on the same course in late September] because I went out at 5:15 that time and I think it made me a little slower in the second and third miles,” said Brown. “Today it was a more conservative start and I felt better throughout the race.”
Koch, a junior at Washburn, won the Class C girls individual title for the third straight year, with her time of 19:30.56 nearly a minute faster than second-place Lily Koffman of Orono.
“I hit my split times for the first two miles,” said Koch, “and my third mile was slower than I wanted it to be, but it’s OK because you’ve got to have room for improvement.”
Koch’s effort, as well as top-15 finishes by Mackenzie Worcester (sixth), Carmen Bragg (ninth) and Emilia Churchill (14th) led the Beavers to their first team title with 58 points after finishing second — just eight points behind Merriconeag Waldorf School of Freeport — a year ago.
Marianne Helton also contributed to the team scoring for Washburn, which like MDI did not have a senior in its varsity lineup.
“We trained a lot harder this year than last year and it paid off,” said Worcester.
Orono won a tight three-team battle for second place with 82 points, one point less than third-place Waynflete of Portland and two points less than fourth-place Merriconeag, the two-time defending state champion.
Nagy, a senior who placed second last year to Kennebunk’s Abbey Leonardi — now at the University of Oregon — won the Class A girls race in 18:50.87 despite having to opt for an alternate “El Diablo” headband for the first time in her cross country career after losing her prized “Ninja” adornment.
“I couldn’t find my Ninja headband this morning, and I was really freaking out about it,” she said. “I may have left it here last week [at the Eastern Maine regionals]. I was kind of scared, thinking that it was lucky, but I guess this one is lucky, too.”
Bonny Eagle placed its top four runners — led by fourth-place Mary Szatkowski — among the top 16 finishers to total 66 points in the Class A team competition, 21 better than both Massabesic of Waterboro and Cheverus of Portland.
Massabesic won the tiebreaker for second place based on having a higher-placing sixth runner than Bonny Eagle.
Brunswick (147) and Eastern Maine champion Hampden Academy (158) placed fourth and fifth in the 14-school Class A girls field.