AUGUSTA — The high school cross country regular season passes by in a blur, which leaves little time for runners and coaches to look at the bigger picture.

Which is why a meet like the 4th Annual Mountain Valley Conference Mid-Season Meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday is a favorite for many. It brings the conference into sharper focus. Minus about three weeks of training and likely a few degrees in temperature, the meet simulates the conference championship meet, which will be held Oct. 18 on the same UMA course.

“A lot of people ask what makes this meet so great because it doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s awesome,” said Winthrop’s Ben Allen. “You get to see everybody you’re going to face (at the conference championship). You get to see what you’re up against.”

Allen and Emma Wilson of Hall-Dale showed the rest of the MVC what they’re up against, winning the boys and girls races, respectively. The Boothbay boys and St. Dominic girls won the team titles.

Allen, a senior, let others set the pace early but emerged from the woods with a comfortable lead for the final 500 meters and finished the 5-kilometer course in 17:23, six seconds ahead of runner-up Nicholas Harriman of Lisbon.

“I’m happy. I took 15 seconds off of last year, so I’m definitely happy with it,” Allen said. “I ran it a little different. We tried to go a little slower today, tried a negative split to run the second and third mile a little faster. It worked out really well, so we’re hoping to do the same thing at the conference championship.”

“We told him to chill out, let someone else lead for a little while and then when you feel like doing your thing, do your thing,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “He’s pretty close to Winthrop’s best time ever on this course, so that’s something he’ll be gunning for at MVCs. Hopefully, the weather cooperates.”

Joey Paolillo of Boothbay finished third, followed by Monmouth’s Luke Thombs. Chris Pomerleau of Hall-Dale (eighth) and Jacob Hickey of Winthrop (10th) also cracked the top 10.

Boothbay packed five runners in the top eight to post the boys low score (26) going away. Winthrop (63) was second, Lisbon third. Hall-Dale and Madison rounded out the top five.

“We tried to run as a pack for the first mile,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “We said we’re going to get to the mile at this pace, and we hit that pace and then we want that pack to move up. It didn’t happen today. Boothbay got us pretty good. I don’t think that’s necessarily indicative. I know they’re stronger than us, but I think we’ll close that gap.”

No one could close the gap on Wilson, who led throughout and broke the tape at 21:29, 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Hannah Morley of Boothbay.

“I was really stressed out before-hand, so I really didn’t have any expectations,” said Wilson, who shaved 25 seconds off last year’s time. “I think I take it too seriously. I’m just a stressed-out person. I just need to relax before the meet. I use up too much energy being nervous.”

Ella Brown of St. Dom’s was third. Madison’s Olivia Demcheck (sixth) and Monmouth’s Carey Knowles (seventh) and Ashleigh Hartford (10th) finished in the top 10.

St. Dom’s placed four in the top seven to beat Monmouth, 38-59, for the girls team title. Boothbay, Hall-Dale and Dirigo rounded out the top five.

“A lot of the kids that have been running six, seven and eight had to step it up today because we were missing quite a few girls,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “I said let’s get up there and break up the pack. We broke up the Boothbay pack and we got into the St. Dom’s pack.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he added.

The Mustangs have a little over three weeks to get that work done if they hope to catch the Saints at the conference championship. Wednesday’s meet gave Menendez, and all of the other coaches in the conference, a better idea of what needs tinkering in the interim.

“We need to match up our (top) four to their four,” Menendez said. “If we match up our four to their four, then it’s going to come down to our fifth and sixth runners. I’ve got a real solid eight or nine kids, so I know my fifth and sixth are going to have to step it up and do what needs to be done.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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