AUGUSTA — With a couple of weeks left in the season the Hall-Dale boys cross country team is peaking toward its goal of winning a state championship for the first time since 1988.

The Bulldogs took another step Friday when they won the Mountain Valley Conference championship with a strong top to bottom performance. Hall-Dale finished 19 points ahead of runner-up Boothbay. Winthrop finished third in the 5K nine-team race on the hilly University of Maine at Augusta course followed by Monmouth.

“It’s about right where I expected it to be if our boys ran well,” Hall-Dale coach Chris Poulin said.

The Bulldogs placed five runners among the top 23, led by senior Josh Ringer (fourth), James McAuliffe (ninth), Matt Plourde (12th) and Chris Pomerleau (14th). Sophomore Thomas Plourde, who finished 23rd, knocked more than a minute off his time on the same course three weeks ago.

“A year ago as a freshman he was running 28 minutes,” Poulin said. “Now he’s down near 19:30.”

Telstar junior Josef Holt-Andrews was the individual boys winner, beating runner-up Marc Hachey of Winthrop by more than a minute. Holt-Andrews was the top Maine finisher two weeks ago at the 68-school Festival of Champions.

“I was just going out there and try to have a decent day,” said Holt-Andrews who finished in 16:21. “I wasn’t trying to break any records or anything.”

In addition to Hachey, Winthrop sophomore Ben Allen finished third and teammate Dylan Berney 15th

“I was hoping with how (things) shook out,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “I was hoping we’d have a wicked special day but Hall-Dale is just strong this year. I was real happy to get a full girls team out on the course today. It means a lot to them.”

Led by Kaitlin Souza in seventh place and Angel Abbott in eighth, the Winthrop girls placed fifth out of seven teams. Dirigo won the team title followed by Boothbay and Monmouth. Boothbay’s Sophia Thayer was the individual winner in 21:11 followed by Dirigo’s Natalie Bolduc.

The Monmouth boys and girls each had tight pack times if not outstanding individual finishes. The boys placed five runners within 59 seconds of one another, led by Ben Bailey in 10th, while the girls top five were 1:31 apart led by Ashley Hartford in 15th.

“The boys ran as well as they have all season,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “The girls, my top four ran very well, and my five, six and seven are moving up. We have two weeks to get ready for states.”

The Madison boys finished sixth, led by Tristan Rich in seventh place, while the girls didn’t field a full team but got a strong performance from sophomore Bronte Elias who placed fourth.

“Tristan turned it on,” Madison coach Brandon Hagopian said. “He took about 30 or 40 seconds off his time from the last time we were here a couple of weeks ago. Bronte Elias ran very well. She finished ninth in a practice met here a couple of weeks ago. She’s definitely been running a lot stronger and she’s getting more focused too.”

The Western Maine regional will be held next weeks at Twin Brooks Recreation in Cumberland followed by the state championship meet Oct. 27 in Belfast.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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