ELLSWORTH, Maine — With August quickly coming to a close, the state’s best cross country runners are ready to kick their legs into high gear for another season.
Defending Class B boys individual state champion Dan Curts of Ellsworth hopes to finish this season the same way he ended last season.
“It’s going to take consistent work through the season after a good summer of training. I think it will just be staying healthy through the season and improving will allow me to try and defend the title,” Curts said.
Curts said in the past his summer training regimen has been light on the running, but this year he stepped it up.
“I haven’t really run over the summer. I ran a little bit, but nothing close to what I’d say would be seriously training. I was pretty focused this summer and motivated, I ran a lot more than I ever have,” he said.
Despite head coach Andy Beardsley not being in favor of running hard races over the summer, both Beardsley and Curts competed in the 10-mile Tour du Lac road race in June, with Curts taking second overall.
“I did the Tour du Lac, a 10-miler, but I certainly didn’t race it,” Curts said. “I ran it with a friend who helps out the cross country team. He had a goal in mind he wanted to get, and I ran along with him to help him run that goal time and he did.”
Curts, who is Beardsley’s nephew, also has a cousin on the team, Bearsley’s son Brayden, who finished 18th overall at the 2012 state meet. Curts says having his relatives’ involvement brings the team closer together.
“I think it’s awesome. We’re so close. He’s also one of my teachers so I can talk to him about school, I can talk to him about running, I can talk to him about anything,” Curts said.
“I think it’s fun for the coach, too, to have his son and nephew on the same team and have it be a strong team who has a chance to do pretty good things at states. It’s just going to be something I can remember the rest of my life,” he added.
Curts is focused on having a solid team performance to challenge for the state team title.
“A lot of [goals] are team goals, we’ve got a good team coming back. It’s expected that Cape Elizabeth and us will battle it out for the Class B team title. I’m just trying to lead my team to run well at the state meet,” Curts said.
“We all depend on each other to do well. If one of us has a terrible day at states, it’s not going to go the way we want it to. I think everyone is making each other better whether or not we run together,” he added.
After winning the state championship, Curts said there is always room for improvement and motivation comes from looking at bigger races past the state level.
“I don’t think a state championship is where you want to be resting on your laurels,” Curts said. “There is New Englands, Footlocker Nationals, there’s just so much more opportunities to run in even more competitive races. There’s tons of motivation that come from kids from other states and looking nationally. There’s always room for improvement no matter who you are.”
Curts identified senior Ben Trapani of Camden Hills as his primary challenger, but has heard that Yarmouth track and soccer star Ben Decker also might run cross country this season. As for teams in Class B, he said Cape Elizabeth is the team to beat.
“Cape Elizabeth is one of our team rivals. They won states last year and return all of their top five,” Curts said. “They’ve had a strong summer of training. I hope we have a good season, and states should be fun competing with them.”
After Curts graduates in the spring, he is not sure where he will go but hopes that he earns an opportunity to run at the next level.
“It’s hard to say where I want to run in college right now. It’s hard to say whether I’ll even be able to run in college right now. I could certainly get hurt or not even be able to compete at that level. Right now I’m just looking to steadily improve. Hopefully I can compete in college and continue running.”