AUGUSTA — Lawrence High School junior Jilli McAllister is a newcomer to cross country, but don’t call her win in the Scot Laliberte Invitational beginner’s luck.

“Another natural athlete,” Lawrence girls cross country coach Sandor Nagy said. “She’s been running track.”

In Friday’s race at Cony High School, McAllister was the first girl to cross the finish line, running the 2.4 mile course in 16 minutes, 12.07 seconds.

“I was really scared because I’d never ran cross country before, and I’m double rostering with soccer,” McAllister said. “I have soccer practice tonight, and we have a special coach coming, so I was trying to save myself. But I was feeling pretty good, so I was like, ‘Whatever. Push it.’ ”

Boys and girls race the Laliberte together, for one total team score. Mt. Ararat was the top team, with Brunswick second and Maranacook third.

Mt. Ararat’s Nathan Mackenzie was the boys winner, finishing with a time of 13:53.84. Mackenzie was 15 seconds faster than second-place finisher Sam Wood, also of Mt. Ararat.

“I had a lot of doubts in my mind, but after about a half mile in, I thought I could pull away with it,” Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie took the lead going up the long hill approximately 600 meters in the race. Mackenzie never felt his lead was comfortable until he neared the finish line.

“I just tried to take the lead. I was afraid they were going to catch me the whole way,” Mackenzie said. “I realized with about a half mile to go, I had quite a lead on them.”

When she realized she had a chance to win, McAllister picked up her pace.

“I had a pretty good start. Then I kind of slowed down for a little bit, but about three-quarters of the way through, I started saying, ‘OK, this is where you have to start pushing,’ ” McAllister said.
McAllister’s win was a pleasant surprise, Nagy said.

“Nobody expected this. It’s a total surprise, which I love,” Nagy said.

A junior, Mackenzie placed 16th in the Class A state championship meet last year.

“There’s a lot of contenders in the state meet that run here, so it’s good to get an idea of where I am,” Mackenzie said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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