Abby Mace put the pressure on herself, which did her no favors as the cross country season kicked into championship mode.

The Maranacook senior also took the pressure off herself, which did her wonders at a key late-season race.

“I had high expectations of myself,” she said, “and I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet them. I wanted so well for my season to end well that it stressed me out mentally. I didn’t really have a race that stood out until New Englands. I came into that race and decided I wasn’t going to stress out. I had an open and relaxed attitude, and it paid off.”

Mace finished seventh at the New England championships, posting the second-fastest time of her career.

For her accomplishments this season, which included strong showings at the Class B state meet, Mace is the Kennebec Journal Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

It’s the fourth consecutive year Mace earned the distinction.

“It was a rough season,” Mace said. “My senior year, I just had all these expectations. I had an iron issue, too, which made me feel sluggish and slow. I really wanted to win states but it didn’t happen.”

Mace finished third at the Class B championships behind Waterville junior Bethanie Brown and Camden Hills sophomore Brittany Bowman. Mace finished the 5,000-meter race in 19 minutes, 42.56 seconds.

Although she didn’t win the race, Mace began to feel better about herself and her times. And it couldn’t have come any sooner.

“It was a big turning point for me in the season,” she said. “I still struggled at states a little, but I was there mentally. I started to see improvement.”

Added Maranacook coach Rosalea Kimball: “We kept working through the season. We kept saying, ‘what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong and what can we do better? She was frustrated with the times she was getting. It was tough. She was really starting to feel the pressure. There were a lot of expectations on someone who has been good since she was a freshman. But then she started to take the pressure off herself.”

And it showed at the New England championships at Ponagansett High School in North Scituate, R.I.
Mace stayed with the lead pack and turned in her best performance of the season, finishing in 18:40 — more than a minute faster than her time at the state meet.

“I was really pleased with how I ran that race,” Mace said. “I wish it had happened earlier, but of all races to have my best time, that would be the one I would pick. I finally felt like my old self.”

Kimball credited some speed workouts implemented late in the season with helping Mace post faster times.

“We started doing some more pure speed breakouts to break her out of, maybe not a rut, but she just wasn’t going fast,” she said. “We needed to get the feeling of the legs moving fast again so we did a lot of speed workouts, and it made a difference. She really had a good year.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

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