Ruth White began running when she was 5 years old in Orono’s summer track program, while William Hileman didn’t take up competitive running until two years ago as an eighth-grader in Bucksport.
Neither youth nor different running backgrounds prevented the high school freshmen from capturing their first Class C outdoor track and field state championships Saturday at the Brewer Community School.
White won the girls 1600 and 3200 meter distance events and contributed to Orono High School’s first-place 4×800 relay team, which bettered its previous best time by 15 seconds.
Hileman won the 1600 meter and placed second in the 3200 meter while helping the Bucksport boys win their first track state championship since 2004.
“I can’t speak for the other kids, but I think there’s a lot of kids who are successful as freshmen and that’s kind of cool,” White said. “[Bangor sophomore sprinter] Anna Connors is a sophomore and she’s been dominating, and Will’s doing great, too. With me it’s a little stressful coming up against a lot of really good kids but it’s also fun to have kids push you during a race.”
White has been aided in running by her father, Orono cross country coach Lin White, along with older sister Nora, a junior, and younger sister Clara, who is in middle school.
“It’s fun to have my sisters to push me,” she said. “We’ve always run together around the block or around the yard. It’s also good to sometimes have my dad as my coach because when I was little and I’d want to run in the summer on days off from summer track, he’d help me with my form.
“At the same time he’s a good coach to us and doesn’t overpush us. That’s nice so when we’re home it’s not all about pushing on the track.”
Hileman similarly followed older brothers David and Micah into the sport.
“My brothers were doing it in high school and I really wasn’t in any sports or anything, so I just thought since my brothers were doing it why not try cross country?” he said.
Hileman has built his running base through longer runs, often weekend jaunts ranging from 8 to 10 miles.
“I just found out that there’s really no feeling quite like running,” he said. “It’s amazing, and I love putting in the work. I’m out there six days a week no matter the weather.”
Hileman won the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C cross country title last fall only to have the state meet canceled due to the coronavirus.
“Originally they said we had to run in masks, so my first thought was that I’m not going to run in that, I’ll just be happy with the PVC win because I didn’t want to run in a mask,” he said. “The more I thought about it I was like, ‘This might actually be fun because I might have a chance to win a state championship,’ but then they canceled it and it was disappointing but since the PVC meet went so well, I was content with that.”
White, who stands less than 5 feet tall, placed fourth in the women’s division of Bangor’s Walter Hunt Memorial Fourth of July 3K — at age 9 in 2015.
The then-rising fourth grader ran that day’s 1.8-mile test in 11 minutes, 48.5 seconds, which earned her 53rd place overall among 517 finishers.
She enjoyed a successful middle-school career before taking her freshman season of cross country off after being injured. She participated in Nordic skiing last winter, then returned to running this spring.
“We did a couple of time trials at the start and those went really well so we knew we were going to have a good year and it seems like we did, so that’s exciting,” White said.
White and Hileman each won the 1600 and 3200 meter distance run at the PVC small-school championships. White’s time of 10 minutes, 52.97 seconds in the 3200 meter eclipsed the 17-year-old conference record of 10:58.54 set by Old Town’s Cassie Hintz, who went on to run at the University of Wisconsin.
Hileman fought off Hunter Burkhardt of Lisbon to win the 1600 meter at states in 4:35.18, a personal best by five seconds, then matched his prerace No. 2 seed in the 3200 meter with a 10:24.48 clocking.
White helped Orono’s 4×800 tandem win by 30 seconds. She then won the 1600 meter by seven seconds, with a time of 5:02.52, and finished the 3200 meter nearly 35 seconds ahead of her competitors with a time of 11:10.14.
She waited at the finish line with her older sister, who finished second in both races, to support the other runners.
“It was fun to have a state championship,” she said. “It was really exciting just to have meets this year and to be able to do it with all of these great people and my teammates who are kind and supportive and push each other in practice. It was fun to be able to race with them, and everyone did a really good job [Saturday].”