BELFAST — As the last 50 yards of the Class A state championship cross country race passed under his feet, Tucker Barber gave himself a laid back pep talk.

“I’m not a huge kicker, so coming up from there I was like, ‘dude if you’ve got anything else, give it before the kick. Save yourself from having an embarrassing pass,'” Barber, a Mt. Blue High School senior, said.

The dude listened.

Barber turned it up just enough down the stretch to hold off a hard-charging Cameron Meier of Mt. Ararat and win the Class A state crown at Troy Howard Middle School. Barber’s time of 15:47.33 was 10 seconds faster than his personal record, set last week on this same course in the regional championships, which he also won.

“I’m kind of in awe of what he was able to accomplish,” Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg said. “He’s really so low key about all of it. I think he really had a feeling it might end up being a good race if he could put everything together.”

Team titles went to Falmouth (Class A), Greely (Class B) and Orono (Class C).

In the Class C race, Winthrop’s Jacob Hickey placed second with a PR time of 16:10, behind winner John Hassett of George Stevens Academy (15:56.12).

“I felt pretty good. I tried to stay with John throughout the race. He’s an incredible runner. I think I did that pretty well. I’m happy with my time,” Hickey said.

Barber said it was a goal to go out a little faster than normal and stay with the leaders. Just over a mile into the race, Barber took the lead. Then, it was a matter of hanging on.

“If I can get the lead and push the pace, that might get me to run faster than I usually do,” Barber said of his strategy. “I started pulling away up there, and I was like, ‘who knows? This is my shot. Let’s see if it works out.’ The whole time, I felt them behind me… Until I crossed that line, I didn’t feel like I had it.”

Barber ran with “Hi I’m Tucker” written on his upper back. Teammate John Lesko has been writing the phrase on his back throughout the season, Barber said. It’s become a sort of good luck tradition.

“He’s written the last three times at Belfast. I guess it’s a kind of tradition, and I guess it saves me from having to do introductions,” Barber said.

The Mountain Valley Conference and Class C South regional champion, Hickey was prepared for a race in which he wouldn’t lead wire to wire. For most of the first mile, Hickey shared the lead with Hassett and Tucker Pierce of Maine Coast Waldorf. Around a mile in, Hassett pulled ahead.

“John surged. I kept him in sight, but I could never quite catch him, but I think I did pretty well,” Hickey said. “Tucker had a great race today. John, he’s one of the best runners in the state. I knew I’d have a challenge with him.”

As he left the starting line, Hickey quickly glanced to his left. He wasn’t already looking for Hassett.

“I think I saw my mom. I can hear her sometimes,” Hickey said.

Luke Laverdiere of Yarmouth won the Class B boys race, the first race of the day, with a time of 15:49.59. Waterville’s Nicholas Dall finished fourth in 16:47.79.

As he accepted congratulations from friends and family, Barber still tried to wrap his head around what he had just accomplished. He was a state champion. Dude.

“I did have some flashes before I finished, what if I do this?” Barber said. “When I finished, I was, wow, that’s it. It’s kind of a weird feeling. I did it.”

Also Saturday, Messalonskee’s Zachariah Hoyle finished 13th in the Class A race in 16:32.38.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM