AUGUSTA — Josh Horne knew he’d have a competitor in teammate Aaron Willingham at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship on Saturday morning at Cony High School. The Mt. Blue seniors have run together and pushed each other all season since Willingham transferred to Mt. Blue from Texas.

The duo had company early in the Class A boys race when Mt. Ararat’s Sam Wood battled them, as well as late when Caleb Lord of Hampden Academy joined them up front.

Horne pulled away, winning the Class A title in a time of 17 minutes, 5.2 seconds. Lord nipped Willingham down the stretch (17:07.1-17:07.8) to finish second. Wood finished 14th.

“The first mile, usually me and Aaron take it out really quick, it was a little harder today because I didn’t have anyone with me. Sam Wood was with me, and Aaron,” Horne said. “It wasn’t quite as fast as I wanted. In the middle part I kind of pulled away on the hill, and then in the field, I love the field, I kind of took off from there.”

Horne, Willingham and Dan Lesko, who finished fifth, helped Mt. Blue to a third-place finish in the Class A boys meet. Bangor, which placed four runners in the top 20, won with 72 points. Lewiston was second with 86.

Hampden Academy won the Class A girls title with 52 points, followed by Brunswick (65) and Lewiston (97). Mt. Ararat and Mt. Blue followed with 111 points each. Teresa Murphy of Brunswick beat Cony’s Anne Guadalupi down the stretch to win the Class A title in 20:40.4.

Maranacook swept the Class B boys and girls titles. The boys won with 57 points, followed by Lincoln (81), Camden Hills (89), Waterville (131) and Erskine Academy (150). Ben Trapani of Camden Hills won the Class B boys title with a time of 17:17.5, followed by Waterville’s Chris Cote 17:40.5.

The Marancook girls won with 61 points. Camden Hills was second with 91 points and Winslow was third with 107. Waterville, led by a third-place finish from Erica Jenson, finished fourth with 132. Abby Hersom of Oceanside won the individual title with a time of 20:49.8.

Horne and Willingham have battled each other all season and helped each other break the 16-minute mark at the Festival of Champions earlier this season. Willingham said he hoped to take it slower Saturday, but got caught up in the pack early in the race. Horne took over in the middle of the race and was able to pull away late to pick up the win.

“Josh is a very talented runner,” Willingham said. “He has great times in the last mile.”

Lesko gave the Cougars a lift with his fifth-place finish, coming in behind Willingham with a time of 17:18.5.

“That was a breakout race for him,” Horne said.

In the Class B boys race, Maranacook placed four runners in the top 15, led by Jason Stevenson (third) and Austin Landry (fourth) to win the title.

The Maranacook girls placed four runners in the top 16, led by Hannah Despres, who finished fourth with a time of 21:53.6. The Winslow girls placed three runners in the top 20, led by Audrey Jones (6th, 22:08.5) and Joann Bourgoin (7th, 22:12.6).

Maggie Hickey earned a top 10 finish for the Mt. Blue girls, taking seventh in 21:45.9.

Scott Martin — 621-5618
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