BELFAST — Hall-Dale coach Chris Poulin figured his boys cross country team would need to have its best race of the season to win its first state championship since 1988. It did.

The Bulldogs placed four runners among the top 18 to capture the Class C state championship going away over runner-up Orono.

“It feels amazing right now,” Poulin said. “This is just surpassing my expectations for how they did today.”

The Bulldogs had not run their best the past two weeks despite winning the Mountain Valley Conference championship and the Western Class C regional title.

“We were seeded No. 1 but we didn’t think we’d win by such a large margin,” said senior Josh Ringer, who led the Bulldogs with an eighth-place finish. “Our sophomores PR’d by quite a bit. Thomas Plourde PR’d by about 20 seconds and Chris Pomerleau was a huge PR by about 40 seconds.”

Hall-Dale senior James McAuliffe finished a spot ahead of Pomerleau in 15th place and also set a personal record while Matt Plourde was 18th and Thomas Plourde 43rd. Sixth-place runner Austin Gardner also ran a personal best.

“We knew that we had to come out and all have our best race,” Matt Plourde said. “This week we nursed our injuries and did what we could to stay healthy and run our best race.

“We knew the color of the Orono shirts were reddish-purple and we knew we had to stay ahead of them. We beat people today that we haven’t beaten in the past.”

Poulin said race strategy differed from runner to runner.

“I told some of them to go out stronger and I told others to hold back a little bit,” he said. “Each one had a different strategy. But the one thing they were all told to do was to not give up at any point and be aware of who was around them. And it worked.”

Winthrop finished third in the Class C boys race, led by senior Marc Hachey, who ran the 5K course in 16 minutes, 45 seconds.

“It’s the first time he’s ever been under 17 (minutes),” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “He just stepped it up huge. He had the ninth fastest time of the day.”

The top finisher in each class plus the 22 next best times qualify for the New England championships scheduled at Twin Brook Recreation in Cumberland on Nov. 10. The top teams in each class plus the next three fastest teams regardless of class also qualify.

Ben Allen finished 11th for Winthrop while teammate Dylan Berney placed 22nd. Teammates Mathias Deming (53rd), Isaac Johnson (68th) and Michael Newman (71st) each broke 20 minutes for the first time.

“All week we were talking about let’s go for it and let’s lay it on the line,” Van Tassel said.

Monmouth finished seventh in the Class C boys race led by Ben Bailey (26th) and Tyler Horsford (27th). Richmond’s Travis Robbins finished 45th. In the Class C girls race, Hall-Dale’s Emma Wilson took 16th while Winthrop’s Angel Abbott (23rd), Molly Kieltyka (27th) and Kaitlin Souza (33rd) all ran well. Ashley Hartford (28th) led Monmouth to a sixth-place finish followed by Carey Knowles (36th) and Tiffany Pease (40th).

In Class B, the Maranacook boys finished fifth led by Jason Stevenson (24th), Kilton Webb (28th) and Austin Landry (35th). Gardiner’s Christian Heath finished 15th. Maranacook’s Caroline Colan placed sixth in the Class B girls race and 19th overall to qualify for the New England meet. In Class A, Messalonskee’s Logan Moses finished 21st in the boys race while teammate Olivia Poulin was 24th in the girls race. Cony’s Courtney King finished 47th.

Waterville’s Bethanie Brown ran the fastest girls time of the day, winning the Class B race in 17:56.32, eight seconds off the course record.

Ellsworth junior Dan Curts posted the fastest time of the day at 15:47.52, just four one hundredths of a second ahead of Fryeburg’s Silas Eastman. The pair matched one another stride for stride until Curts opened a 10-yard lead with less than a quarter mile to go before Eastman drew even.

“It’s hard switching that gear once he catches you and you have to go again,” Curts said. “But I guess I was able to do it.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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