RANGELEY — The first day of the Class A Nordic skiing championships put the Falmouth High boys in an unfamiliar position.
Second place. They trailed Leavitt by two points.
“It was definitely different, because the past two years we’ve had a pretty large cushion,” said junior Gabe Mahoney. “But we’re stronger in skate skiing. We have a couple guys who are OK in classic, but they really kill it in skate skiing.”
Indeed, Falmouth grabbed second place (Mahoney), eighth (junior Iain Kurry), 10th (junior Ethan Cantlin) and 12th (sophomore Devin Ventura) in freestyle to clinch a third straight Class A Nordic title Thursday under sunny skies at the at the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center.
Falmouth finished the two-day Nordic competition with 72 points. Leavitt edged Mt. Blue for second place, 92-98. Portland was fourth at 198.
Earlier Thursday, Falmouth’s girls extended their already dominant lead as junior Anna Morin, freshman Gabby Farrell, sophomore London Bernier and freshman Lucy Mahoney finished 3-4-5-10. Falmouth wrapped up the two-day meet with 45 points to 94 for Mt. Blue and 124 for Leavitt.
“We inherited a great team,” said Falmouth’s first-year coach, Jen Harris, who credited assistants Karin Kurry and Sarah Beliveau and former coach James Demer for their help. “It was a combined effort.”
Individually, Mt. Ararat senior Sam Wood won for the second day in a row, completing the challenging 5-kilometer course in 14 minutes, 26 seconds despite falling twice, including 30 yards before the finish line.
“I just wasn’t paying attention,” Wood said. “I think fatigue played a role, too. We watched ‘The Shining’ last night at this pretty old hotel we were staying at last night, so I probably didn’t get the best night of sleep.”
Falmouth’s Mahoney was 12 seconds back in 14:38, followed by Portland senior Ben Allen (14:42) and Thornton Academy’s Mitchell Harris (15:07).
In the girls’ race, Mt. Blue senior Sarah Wade blew away the field of 54 by nearly a minute in 17:31. Runner-up Laura Frank of Portland (18:21) won a tight battle for second place over teammate Lizzy Landry (18:22) and Falmouth’s Morin (18:23).
Wade also won the Class A freestyle title last year and was runner-up as a sophomore. She was runner-up to Landry in Wednesday’s snowy classic race over the same course.
“Same course, but it’s a lot different,” on skate skis, Wade said. “It’s kind of that in-between steepness where you’re not sure if you should do V2 or V1, but because there’s so many of (the hills), you’re better off V1-ing and not wasting your energy.”
Conditions this week were much better than when Harris brought the Falmouth team to train over the same trails last weekend.
“When we came, the snow was soft and they didn’t have the right wax on,” Harris said. “So they were thinking, ‘Oh, this course isn’t going to be fast.’”
Last weekend, the long stretches of uphill taxed Falmouth’s freshmen, including Farrell, who said, “It was a killer course,” and Lucy Mahoney “I was in tears.”
On Thursday, after the girls had a prerace sing-a-long, Mahoney said she took the tunes to the trails.
“I had songs for each hill,” she said. “I was like, ‘You gotta push it, push it, to the limit.’”
Overall state champions will not be decided until next week’s Alpine meet at Shawnee Peak, scheduled for Thursday (giant slalom) and Saturday (slalom). Morin, Falmouth’s top Nordic finisher, will be there for the first time as a skimeister.
“The Falmouth Alpine team only has four girls,” Morin said, “so if one falls, they’re screwed by the points system. I’m their back-up.”
A year ago, Falmouth fell two points shy of Oxford Hills for the overall title in large part because its three-skier Alpine team was forced to include the scores of a “ghost skier,” equivalent to one place below the slowest finisher.
Morin’s sister, Audrey, is a freshman on the Alpine team. Anna, who had never run gates until this winter, is using her sister’s old racing skis. The new Maine Principals’ Association format splitting the Nordic and Alpine meets from their traditional four-events-in-three-days schedule prompted Morin to give skimeister a whirl.
“It would be too much,” without the break, she said. “I’d rather focus on Nordic than Alpine, but if I can do both, then here we go.”
Morin leads the Class A skimeister standings with 11 points (she was seventh in classical) over Juliet Fink of Fryeburg (62) and Jessie Hoffman of Greely (86).
Among boys, Miles Pelletier of Mt. Blue leads with 49 points to 79 for Sullivan Briggs of Fryeburg and 112 for Matthew Hodgkins of Scarborough.
Yarmouth jumped to the front of the girls’ and boys’ standings after Day 1 of the Nordic championships at Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. The boys, led by senior Braden Becker’s individual victory in the 5K classic race, hold a lead of 18-28 over Maranacook, with Caribou and Freeport tied for third at 67.
Carter Hall, Sam Alexander and Jasper Houston finished third, sixth and eighth for the Clippers. Freeport’s Eli McCurdy was second, 45 seconds behind Becker.
Yarmouth’s girls also took four of the top 10 spots, with Ellie Teare (third), Emma Torres (fifth), Sarah Myers (ninth) and Lucy Alexander (10th) totaling 27 points to Freeport’s 46. Maranacook is third with 66, followed by Caribou (72), Kents Hill (77) and Gray-New Gloucester (80).
GNG sophomore Kaelyn Woods won the individual race by 28 seconds over Freeport’s Lily Johnston, in 18:40.
Because of weather concerns, Friday’s concluding Nordic races in freestyle have been pushed back to a noon start for girls and 1 p.m. for boys.
Merriconeag successfully defended its Nordic titles in dominant fashion at Black Mountain in Rumford.
Samantha Pierce (second), Fiona Ahearne (third), Carlin Tindall (fifth) and Lily Tupper (seventh) led Merriconeag’s girls in freestyle to wrap up the championship with a two-day total of 35 points, well ahead of runner-up Fort Kent’s 102. Monmouth Academy was third at 160 and Waynflete fourth at 208, followed by seven other schools.
Merriconeag’s boys also grabbed four of the top seven spots in freestyle. Forrest McCurdy was third, Tucker Pierce fifth, Graham Roeber sixth and John Burgess seventh for a two-day total of 39 points.
Because Merriconeag has no Alpine team, Nordic runner-up Fort Kent sits in the driver’s seat for the overall title with 112 points. Dirigo is third at 152, followed by Madawaska (168), Orono (204) and six other schools.
Dylan Thombs of Monmouth won the 5K race by two seconds over Daniel Streinz of Katahdin in 13:09. Katahdin’s Hannah Streinz won the girls’ race by 33 seconds over Pierce in 15:18.
Rebekah Bryant of Monmouth and Conner Woods of Mountain Valley lead the Class C skimeister standings with 21 and 45 points, respectively. Fort Kent’s Rudy Martin (25) and Telstar’s Liam Gallagher (77) are in second place.
The Class C Alpine meet is next Thursday and Friday at Sunday River.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or: