Runners may have been fortunate to avoid the brunt of Friday’s soaking rain storm, but conditions still were far from ideal for the Mt. Blue Relays at Mt. Blue High School.

Nevertheless, Cony and host Mt. Blue came away pleased with their performances at one of the high points of the regular season, which Mt. Blue cross country has hosted since 1984.

Cony won the girls race on the strength of top-10 individual times by Anne Guadalupi, Talia Jorgensen and Lindsay Watts.

“Coming in well at the Festival of Champions and winning the Mt. Blue Relays has showed our girls that their hard work is paying off,” Cony coach Shawn Totman said. “What is nice is the realization by our runners that our success is dependent on a team effort at every race.”

Waterville, Mt. Blue, Mt. Ararat and Maranacook rounded out the top five.

The Relays format features five legs of a little over two miles each for a total of 10.15 miles. Cony’s winning time was 1:11.47. Waterville (1:12.49) edged Mt. Blue by three seconds for second place.

Waterville’s Lauren Brown turned in the top individual time (12:52), two seconds in front of Guadalupi. Katherine Leckbee of Mt. Ararat was third, followed by Mt. Blue’s Maggie Hickey, Waterville’s Cecilia Morin, Jorgensen, Rosalea Kimball and Maddie Taylor of Maranacook, Messalonskee’s Avery Brennan and Watts.

Jorgensen was the fastest freshman, Leckbee the top sophomore, Guadalupi the top junior and Brown the fastest senior among the 99 girls who competed.

Hickey, fresh off a strong 39th-place finish at the Festival of Champions on Oct. 3, edged Morin by two seconds for fourth.

“She was thrilled with how she did and so were we,” Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg said. “We had a number of kids, even with that weather, who had season’s best (times) and that’s not easy to do on our course, given the conditions. I was pleased.”

Cullenberg and the Cougars had more reason to celebrate as Mt. Blue’s Tucker Barber won the boys race in 11:14, five seconds ahead of runner-up Cameron Meier of Mt. Ararat. There were 143 runners in the boys race.

The Cougars were 15 seconds behind the leader from Bangor when Barber started his anchor leg. He made up five seconds within the first mile-and-a-quarter

“He’s having a great season,” Cullenberg said, “but for him, the Festival of Champions was really kind of a turning point. He ran a pretty significant lifetime record there (17:17.89). We were thinking if he placed in the top 50 that would be really good and he ended up placing 38th.”

“He’s a very disciplined runner,” she added. “He knows how to pace. He knows his body really well. If he’s going to beat somebody, it’s not necessarily because he’s speeding up. It’s because everyone else is slowing down. On Friday, as soon as he got tagged, his feet were moving like crazy. That leg turnover isn’t something I’ve seen at the beginning of his races. It’s usually later.”

Waterville’s Nick Dall was the top freshman finisher. Mt. Blue’s Zeke Robinson and Barber were the fastest sophomore and junior, respectively, while Jarod Farrar of Leavitt turned in the top senior time.

• • •

Cony, Mt. Blue and many of the other schools at the Mt. Blue Relays are now gearing up for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Championship, which will be Saturday at Cony High School.

Guadalupi will try to defend her conference title on her home course and help the Rams improve upon last year’s seventh-place finish. “Anne Guadalupi, Talia Jorgensen and Lindsay Watts are our strong 1-2-3 runners and are showing nice race times, but that isn’t enough for good team results,” he said. “Our girls are doing well because of good races by our 4-5-6 runners.”

That second trio usually includes some combination of Tara Jorgensen, Allison Laplante, Annemarie Towle and “a quickly improving” Cammie Osborne, Totman said.

“Without their good races, we would be in trouble as a team,” he said.

The Cony boys have quietly enjoyed a good season but suffered a setback when No. 1 runner Andrew Levesque was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot that will cause him to miss KVACs. Totman said doctors and trainers are hopeful Levesque can return for the Northern A regionals on Oct. 24 in Belfast.

“It is tough for Andrew and our other guys because he is the heart and soul of the team and one of the top runners in our league and region,” Totman said. “We will remain hopeful, but our guys will have to step up and try to overcome this adversity.”

Hampden swept the boys and girls team titles last year.

Cullenberg is also encouraged by her girls performance heading into the conference meet, especially considering that health concerns depleted her roster at the Relays, which the Cougars would have won if it were scored as a traditional meet.

Like Totman, Cullenberg will be watching her second-tier runners closely at KVACs to help determine the best mix going forward.

“It will be interesting because we do have a pretty good pack on both teams from four and five all the way through to eight or nine,” she said.

In Class B, the Maranacook boys and Morse girls are the defending champions. Brown, who was runner-up to Maranacook’s Hannah Despres last year, is the top returning runner for the girls. Caleb Love-Webb was the top underclassmen for the boys in 2014, finishing third behind champion Harrison Knowlton of Leavitt and Chris Cote of Waterville.

• • •

The Mountain Valley Conference championship meet is Friday at the University of Maine at Augusta. The Boothbay boys and Monmouth girls are the defending champions.

UMA was the site of the MVC’s mid-season meet on Sept. 23. The Winthrop boys and Boothbay girls won those races.

New individual champions will be crowned this year as Winthrop’s Ben Allen and Hall-Dale’s Emma Wilson were both seniors last year. Lisbon’s Nicholas Harriman won the mid-season meet and should be challenged by Winthrop’s Jacob Hickey and Will Vance and Monmouth’s Luke Thombs on Friday. Boothbay’s Faith Blethen won the girls race and will likely battle with teammate Hannah Morley and Sydney Sirois and Ella Brown of St. Dominic for the conference title.


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