BELFAST, Maine — The Lewiston Blue Devils used superior depth to win the Eastern Maine Class A boys cross country championship at the Troy Howard Middle School course Saturday.
The Brunswick girls squad had to dig even deeper to claim its Eastern A crown — winning a sixth-runner tiebreaker over Hampden Academy after the teams were tied through the scoring of their first five finishers.
In Class B, the Mount Desert Island girls and Ellsworth boys swept to overwhelming victories, while Orono swept the Class C championships.
Lewiston’s top five runners, led by third-place junior Isaiah Harris (16:23.07 for the 3.1-mile course), finished with a pack time of just 36.1 seconds as the Blue Devils avenged a loss to Bangor at last weekend’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet.
“If we want to have a chance at New Englands we definitely have to do a lot better than we did today,” said Lewiston coach T.J. Niles, “but this is a good stepping stone to the end of the season.”
The winners were boosted by the return of senior Mohamed Mohamed, who was held out of the KVACs due to injury but returned to finish 13th overall and fifth among the Lewiston runners in 16:59.17.
Between Harris and Mohamed were seniors Mohamed Awil (ninth in 16:48.76) and Farhan Abdillahi (10th in 16:51.00) and sophomore Osman Mohamed (11th in 16:56.19) as the Blue Devils totaled 46 points, well ahead of second-place Bangor (76) and third-place Mt. Blue of Farmington (94).
“We’ve been running as a pack like that all year, especially since Osman realized he could run with the top four,” said Niles. “Through workouts I knew he could, and I think he finally realized it at the Festival of Champions (race in Belfast on Oct. 5).
Mt. Blue’s Josh Horne won the individual title in 16:12.94, while Bangor’s Jonathan Stanhope surged late to finish second in 16:19.21.
Teammate Ben Salinas was eighth in 16:44.41, giving Bangor two finishers before Lewiston’s second runner had crossed the line — but then came the Blue Devil Express, with four runners among the next five finishers to clinch the team’s second straight Eastern Maine championship.
The Brunswick and Hampden girls were stalemated at 55 points apiece through each team’s top five finishers, but Dragons’ sixth runner Brooke Escoe placed 26th overall, six spots ahead of her Hampden counterpart, to give Brunswick the narrow team victory.
Lewiston, led by fifth-place junior Farhiyo Aden, was third with 91 points, while seventh-place senior Angelyn Masters led Bangor to a fourth-place finish with 108.
Brunswick was paced by the 2-4 finishes of senior Teresa Murphy and sophomore Tessa Cassidy as the Dragons avenged a 13-point loss to Hampden at the KVAC championships.
Hampden was led by third-place junior Elizabeth Labun and freshman Simone Withers, who placed eighth.
Freshman Anne Guadalupi of Cony of Augusta was the Eastern A girls individual champion in 19:05.73.
Ellsworth senior Aleta Looker had the fastest girls’ time of the day, winning the Class B meet in 18:54.85.
“I had the plan to break 19 (minutes) but I’ve had that plan since my freshman year,” said Looker, who finished this year’s Festival of Champions race in 19:01. “My coach has coached a lot of good girls but he never had one break 19, so that meant a lot to me.”
But two-time defending state champion MDI had four of the next five finishers and placed all seven of its runners among the top 13 to total just 21 points — 82 better than second-place John Bapst of Bangor.
MDI won decisively despite having top runner Maggie Painter sidelined by pancreatitis, as the Trojans’ pack time between Isabel Erickson (second in 19:20.76) and seventh finisher Erin White (13th in 20:46.89) was just 1:26.13.
Other scoring Trojans were third-place Waylon Henggeler, Caroline Driscoll (fifth) and Lydia Dacorte (sixth), while Emma Strong (eighth) and Olivia Erickson (12th) rounded out the winning contingent.
The Ellsworth boys were equally dominant, with a 1-2 finish by cousins Dan Curts and Braydon Beardsley helping the Eagles total just 23 points compared to 109 for runner-up John Bapst.
Curts, the defending Class B state champion who is working his way back from hamstring problems that have hobbled him in recent weeks, nevertheless posted the fastest boys time of the day, 16:00.95.
But Beardsley was less than three seconds behind and the Eagles placed their five scoring runners among the top nine finishers, with Robert Looker (fifth), Frank King (sixth) and Cooper Holmes (ninth) all contributing to that effort.
Matthew Toussaint of Fort Kent (16:51.81) and three-time state champion Carsyn Koch (19:30.34) won the Eastern C individual titles, but Orono’s pack running proved decisive in both races.
The Orono girls finished 3-4-5-6 (Lily Koffman, Kassidy Dill, Hannah Steelman and Jordan Richards) to go with a 12th-place finish by Olivia Fendel as they edged defending state champion Washburn 29-35.
The Orono boys followed a similar path to victory led by the 3-4-5 finishes of James O’Neil, Tristan Butterfield and Conall Malloy. Josh Marquis added a seventh-place finish for the Red Riots while Brian Westhoven was 15th as Orono scored 33 points to top second-place George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (51) and third-place Fort Kent (70).
Freshman John Hassett led GSA with a second-place finish.