CUMBERLAND, Maine — Mount Desert Island High School is quite familiar with that state championship feeling in girls cross country — the Trojans’ victory Saturday at the Twin Brook Recreation Area was their third straight.
For Orono High School, the feeling is much newer.
The Red Riots, second in Class C a year ago, broke through Saturday to win the team’s first state title since 1976, edging defending champion Washburn by two points, 48-50.
“We were expecting a great race from Washburn, they’re a great team,” said Orono junior Lily Koffman. “We were just prepared to race our hardest no matter what happened.”
Sophomore Olivia Fandel, the Red Riots’ fourth finisher, secured the clinching points with her 17th-place finish, less than a second ahead of 18th-place Emilia Churchill of Washburn — though had they finished in opposite positions Orono still would have won via the sixth-runner tiebreaker.
“I was ahead of her by a little bit, and then she kicked it in and I decided that I should, too,” said Fandel. “She passed me by a little, and then I caught up in the final part.”
Orono withstood a first-place effort by Washburn’s Carsyn Koch, who completed the 3.1-mile course in 20 minutes, 24.79 seconds to become one of the few runners in Maine cross country history to win four consecutive individual state championships.
But Orono had the faster pack, as freshmen Kassidy Dill and Hannah Steelman and Koffman finished 5-6-7.
“That’s been our strategy this year, to run as a pack, and it worked out pretty well for us,” said Koffman.
Senior Jordan Richards placed 21st to round out Orono’s scoring contingent.
Washburn’s Carmen Bragg and Mackenzie Worcester finished 10th and 11th overall, followed by Churchill and Tori Koch (20th).
“Washburn came ready to race today and ran wonderfully,” said Orono coach Lin White. “My girls did what they had to do. It was close, but I’m proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished.”
In Class B, MDI stormed to victory with 49 points compared to 90 for second-place Freeport — all despite top seed Maggie Painter running at much less than 100 percent in her comeback race after being sidelined by pancreatitis.
Senior Isabel Erickson and junior Waylon Henggeler led the way, finishing third and fourth for coach Desiree Sirois’ Trojans, while freshman Lydia Dacorte (sixth), junior Caroline Driscoll (19th), freshman Erin White (22nd) and seniors Olivia Erickson (33rd) and Painter (51st) also contributed to the victory.
“I can’t really believe it, honestly,” said Isabel Erickson, part of all three MDI championship squads. “It’s pretty amazing, and I think the most important thing is that I’ve loved the team every year.
“We’re really a family and I think that’s how we do it, we support each other like nothing else. These are some incredible, special people, and I’m so glad to have run with them.”
Kirstin Sandreuter of host Greely High School was the Class B individual champion with the fastest girls’ time of the day, 18:37.96. Ellsworth’s Aleta Looker was second in 19:49.43.
In Class A, sophomore Kialeigh Marston won the race in 19:34.16 to lead Bonny Eagle to its second straight title. Teammates Mary Szatkowski (fourth), Kristen Glennie (12th), Zoe Goodwin (32nd) and Kyuanna Libby (39th) also helped the Scots finish with 81 points to defeat Massabesic of Waterboro (100) and Falmouth (107).
Brunswick (127) edged Hampden Academy (129) for fourth place. Hampden’s Elizabeth Labun earned a top-10 finish in ninth place, while Tessa Cassidy (13th) and Teresa Murphy (15th) led Brunswick.