Marc Hachey had big shoes to fill entering the 2012 cross country season.

The Ramblers lost top runner Kameron Souza, who finished sixth in the Class C state championship meet last season, to graduation. It was up to Hachey to take over as Winthrop’s top runner.

He didn’t disappoint.

Hachey finished second at the Mountain Valley Conference championship meet, third at the Western C regional and the Class C state championship meet. He qualified for the New England championships and finished 148th with a time of 18 minutes, 16.24 seconds.

For his outstanding season, Hachey has been named the Kennebec Journal Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Hachey was aware before the season began the challenge he faced replacing Souza. He welcomed it, however, and credited Souza with mentoring him early in his career.

“(Souza) left a big void, he definitely carried our team quite a bit,” Hachey said. “Since my freshman year, I wouldn’t have been the athlete I have been without him. He took me under his wing since my freshman year. I always tried to run with him and looked up to him as an athlete. I owe a lot of my ability to him.”

The season did not start well for Hachey, who struggled to a 14th place finish in his first race.

“I had a tough day, I don’t know why,” Hachey said. “I came in 14th. It was really hot. I’ve never really had a good first race of the season.”

Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel, who has worked with Hachey since his freshman season in track and field, knew Hachey had the potential to be one of the top runners in the conference, even after the first race. An early season race at Carrabec gave him added confidence.

“We had a meet in Carrabec, with a very flat course,” Van Tassel said. “He ran 17:22 and it just kind of showed him and it showed me the kind of potential he had. But he was steady as a rock, he was our No. 1 guy, there was no doubt about it.”

After that race, Van Tassel knew Hachey was going to have a successful season.

“It was just a matter of how close could he get to Joe Holt by the end of the year,” Van Tassel said. “And a big goal was to break 17 (minutes).”

Breaking 17 minutes took all season, but Hachey did it, running a personal best of 16:45.52 at the Class C state championships. He finished third behind Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar (who finished second in 16:20.45) and state champ Jack Pierce of Merriconeag (16:57.41). Hachey had the ninth-best time of all three classes combined.

Hachey credited Van Tassel’s regimen of logging more miles throughout the season as a key reason for reaching a personal record.

“The training this year definitely helped,” Hachey said.

Hachey has yet to decide which college he will attend, but wants to study pre-med.

Dave Dyer — 621-5639
ddyer@centralmaine.com