BELFAST, Maine — Mike Tate had been more than competitive during three previous appearances at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions — with three top-10 performances highlighted by a second-place finish last fall.
The senior from Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, made his final cross-country excursion to midcoast Maine one to remember Saturday afternoon, winning the festival’s boys division in record-setting fashion at the Troy Howard Middle School.
Tate was part of a three-man pack early in the race with top-seeded Trevor Crawley of Cumberland, R.I., and Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar of Bethel, but he pulled away from Crawley during the final mile to finish the 5-kilometer route by himself in a time of 15 minutes, 26.64 seconds.
That topped the previous mark of 15:33 set by Brunswick’s Will Geoghegan in 2009 and was nearly 11 seconds ahead of Crawley’s runner-up time of 15:37.16.
“It definitely was my goal from the start of cross-country season to come down here and try to win this,” said Tate. “If the course wasn’t too muddy I was going to try to go for the course record, and it happened.”
But with damp conditions gradually slickening up the course throughout the day’s six races that combined to produce 1,386 finishers, Tate didn’t start the race thinking about a record.
“I knew it was wet and I talked to the guys on my team who had run earlier and they said it was in better shape than last year,” said Tate, who finished second here last fall to former Madison star and current Purdue University freshman runner Matt McClintock.
“They said it was getting a little sloppy and that a couple of the hills were going to be a mess by the time I got there, but it wasn’t too bad out there.”
Crawley’s performance led Cumberland, R.I., to its fourth boys team title in the festival’s 11-year history — albeit by a single point (195-196) over runnerup Lewiston, which placed three runners among the top 20 in Mohamed Barre (eighth), Mohamed Mohamed (16th) and Isaiah Harris (19th).
The top five teams in the boys meet were separated by just 15 points, with 2011 champion Falmouth placing third with 203 points, followed by Cape Elizabeth (208) and Scarborough (210).
Holt-Andrews finished third in the boys field in 15:59.89, with Jack Pierce of Merriconeag-Waldorf of Freeport fourth in 16:14.27 and Bangor’s Jonathan Stanhope fifth in 16:24.55.
Stanhope’s personal-best time for the 3.1-mile distance helped Bangor — the defending Eastern Maine Class A champion — to an eighth-place finish among the 60 scoring boys teams in the meet.
“We knew it was going to be muddy out and we wanted to focus on our pack running today, so we just tried to keep everyone running in the same pack and start out slow and keep moving our way up during the race,” said Stanhope. “We did fairly well.”
Other top individual finishers from Eastern Maine included seventh-place Ben Trapani of Camden Hills of Rockport (16:36:12) and Tyler White of Orono, 11th in 16:41.74.
Bangor’s Colin Glencross won the boys freshman race, with his time of 17:22.25 edging second-place Cooper Holmes of Ellsworth (17:25.67).