BELFAST, Maine — Sometimes not having a scoreboard at a sporting event can be a blessing.
The Mount Desert Island girls cross country team not only didn’t know it had captured the Class B North title Saturday until the awards ceremony inside the Troy A. Howard Middle School gymnasium, but realized its championship fate only after Hancock County rival Ellsworth had been recognized as the runner-up.
The element of surprise only added to the celebration.
“It was so exciting,” said MDI senior Olivia Watson. “I thought we were maybe three points behind Ellsworth.”
MDI of Bar Harbor captured its title by the narrowest of margins, 51-52, over an Ellsworth team paced by individual race winner Caitlin MacPherson. John Bapst of Bangor (115), Caribou (125), Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (131), Presque Isle (151) and Hermon (212) also qualified next Saturday’s state championships to be held on the same 3.1-mile course.
“We’ve been back and forth with Ellsworth all year,” said MDI junior Rachelle Swanson.
The girls Class A and Class C North races lacked similar drama, with defending state champions Camden Hills of Rockport and Orono scoring convincing victories.
Camden Hills won the “A” title by a comfortable 49-88 over Mt. Ararat of Topsham, followed by additional state-meet qualifiers Mt. Blue of Farmington (107), Bangor (125), Brunswick (136) and Messalonskee of Oakland (151)
Orono was even more dominant in “C,” with senior Camille Kohtala leading four Red Riots among the top six finishers. Orono scored 23 points, with Houlton (85), Maine School of Science and Mathematics (88) of Limestone and Fort Fairfield (92) also advancing to states.
Camden Hills was led by third-place Augusta Stockman, the lone senior among the Windjammers’ top six runners. Freshman Elsie Hildreth was next in fourth while sophomore Claire Wyman’s ninth gave the champs three top-10 finishers.
“We had a strong group of freshmen last year who are sophomores this year and they’ve been working really hard,” said Stockman of a Camden Hills team that has missed another of its top runners from 2017, Grace Iltis, this fall due to injury. “And we have a strong freshman in Elsie who really stepped up. We’ve filled in the gaps.”
Edward Little of Auburn senior Jillian Richardson won the “A” race with the fastest girls time of the day, 18 minutes, 37.4 seconds. Kahryn Cullenberg of Mt. Blue was second, 32.7 seconds back.
Junior Katelyn Osborne’s fourth-place finish paced MDI to its crown, while freshman Grace Munger (eighth), Swanson (tied for ninth), Watson (15th) and sophomore Olivia Johnson (17th) provided the Trojans a Nos. 2-5 pack all within 54.6 seconds of each other.
That depth proved just enough to outlast an Ellsworth squad that had two top-five runners in MacPherson and fifth-place Abby Mazgaj.
MacPherson held off John Bapst sophomore Jaymie Sidaway by 3.2 seconds to win the race in 20:09.30.
“I was working pretty hard for it, I was really trying to help out my team,” said MacPherson, a junior.
John Bapst freshman Aliah Coltart was third in the “B” race.
In Class C, Orono — the state champion four of the last five years — was a familiar champion in its regional. But for Kohtala the individual victory marked a personal breakthrough after finishing second in the Penobscot Valley Conference, regional and state meets last fall.
“It was really exciting to finally get the win,” said Kohtala. “I’ve had a lot of races that haven’t gone exactly as I wanted them to, so it was really good to finally have one go really well and it really makes me excited for states next week.”
Kohtala (20:04.00) edged teammate Erin Gerbi by 4.3 seconds to provide Orono a 1-2 finish. Other scorers for the Red Riots were sophomore Julia White (fifth), freshman Nora White (seventh) and sophomore Amneh Wise (15th overall).
“Having such a young team be able to step up and be consistent week after week has been really impressive to me,” said Kohtala.
MSSM placed two runners among the top six in Dolcie Tanguay (third) and Madison McCarthy (sixth), while Teagan Ewings of Greater Houlton Christian Academy was fourth.