BELFAST — For a couple of first-year cross country runners, Lawrence’s Erzsebet Nagy and Waterville’s Bethanie Brown have done pretty well for themselves.

The two juniors each went under 19 minutes in winning their respective races — Nagy in Class A and Brown in Class B — at the Eastern Regionals on Saturday.

Messalonskee senior Harlow Ladd posted the best time of the day in winning the Class A race. The top 50 percent of teams in each class along with the first 30 individual finishers qualified for next Saturday’s state championship at Twin Brook Recreation in Cumberland.

Nagy blew away the Class A field, finishing the 3.1-mile course at Troy Howard Middle School in 18 minutes, 51.25 seconds, more than a minute-and-a-half ahead of runner-up Teresa Murphy of Brunswick.

“I wanted to just run strong through the whole thing,” said Nagy, who played soccer last fall. “I didn’t want to think about anybody else.”

Brown, who won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet last week, has improved steadily throughout the season. Saturday she finished in 18:59.74, 23 seconds ahead of Brittany Bowman of Camden Hills.

“I wasn’t sure what I had to do to win, but I knew that I had to go out pretty hard,” said Brown, who finished 46 seconds faster than she did three weeks ago on the same course at the Festival of Champions. “I was pretty excited to run this course because I really liked it last time.”

Ladd finished in 16:41.34, four seconds ahead of Brunswick’s Benson Worthington. Class B winner Dan Curtis of Ellsworth was clocked in 16:41.90.

“I was going to go for a PR,” Ladd said. “But by the first mile, going up a hill I realized that it was pretty muddy, then I changed my plans to just go for a win.”

Ladd, who won last week’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A title against the same field, has his sights on a state title.

“Next week, I really want to win states,” Ladd said. “(Scarborough’s) Nick Morris, he’s going to be gunning for me. He’s an exceptional runner.”

Bangor won the Class A boys title while Caribou won the B race and Bangor Christian took Class C. Mt. Ararat placed five runners in the top 11 in winning the Class A girls race while Camden Hills nipped Mount Desert Island by a point in Class B. Washburn won the Class C title.

Among the Class A girls, Mt. Blue qualified for next week’s state meet with a third-place result, buoyed by a finishing kick from Addie Cullenberg that netted her third place.

“She had a great finish,” Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg said. “She doesn’t even know where it came from.”

The Cougar girls also got strong races from freshman Katherine Gunther (18th), Louisa Stanicoff, Maryam Norton (26th) and Emily Roberts (30th). Qualifying individually were Erskine’s Michaela Fortin (24th) and Cony’s Courtney King (25th).

“We have two kids going to the state meet,” Cony coach Shawn Totman said. “Courtney King, she’s a really good freshman, never did cross country before. And Andrew Caron, who’s a senior, placed 28th. Andrew had his best race by a minute.”

The Mt. Blue boys finished seventh, missing the cut for the state meet for the first time in 19 years by one spot.

“Pretty much every single boy that ran today ran a lifetime best by a lot,” Cullenberg said. “I’m disappointed, they’re going to be disappointed, but we really couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Sully Jackson placed ninth for Mt. Blue and qualified for the individual race next week, as did Erskine’s Ethan Bronson (20th) and Brendan Wood (30th). The Messalonskee boys finished third overall. In addition to Ladd’s top finish, the Eagles got a 14th-place finish from Nicholas Hart and 16th from Cameron Dick.

In Class B, both Waterville teams qualified with fifth-place finishes while the Winslow boys also qualified with a sixth place.

“I was pleased with both of them,” Waterville coach Rob Stanton said. “They both ran right about where we thought they could.”

In addition to Brown, the Purple Panthers drew strong performances from Lara Bluhm (6th) and Tiana Thomas (18th). Winslow’s Molly Schassberger (16th) and Audrey Jones (25th) qualified individually.

Anselm Scheck (17th), Joseph Bellavia (23rd) and Riley Barth (30th) led the Waterville boys, while Nickolas Shuckrow (5th), Thomas Cassidy (22nd) and Griffin Davis (25th) paced Winslow. Maine Central Institute’s Samuel Gachagua qualified individually with a 10th-place finish.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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