Anne McKee has brought back a lot of hardware to Kents Hill in her cross country running and skiing careers, but the team awards have usually been reserved for the fall season.

McKee’s final season of Nordic skiing changed that when she led the Huskies to co-runner-up status in Class C in February. Powered by two top-five finishes by the senior, the Huskies tied Madawaska for second behind Maine Coast Waldorf School, the best performance in team history.

For her accomplishments, McKee is the Kennebec Journal Girls Nordic Skier of the Year for the second consecutive year.

“This was a year marked by team success,” McKee said. “I had wanted to bring home a plaque and having it all go that way was pretty cool.”

The early road to success wasn’t quite cool enough for anybody. It was paved rather than covered with snow. Warm weather and lack of snow left most teams scrambling to find snow and/or extend their dry-land training. The Huskies practice with Maranacook’s Nordic team and are coached by Maranacook’s Steve DeAngelis, which gives the Huskies the kind of base organization they need to get preseason work in. But McKee’s presence was critical to getting the team to jell and focus.

“Having weird conditions is kind of the norm for us,” she said. “I think we’re a really mentally-tough team, and I’m really proud of that.”

The Huskies took their cue from McKee in terms of mental toughness.

“She’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever coached. She asks question all the time,” DeAngelis said. “I love questions because my dream as a coach is to get athletes to feel almost like they’re coaches.”

McKee’s business-like approach paid off with a strong start at the Leavitt Hornet Classic, where she finished third overall. That and a second-place finish at the Maranacook Waves would be her regular season peaks. She skied well but not quite as well at mid-season meets.

But as the skiers around her became more experienced and competitive, McKee focused on helping her team get better. As a three-time New England cross country running champion and a regular top-10 finisher at Class B state Nordic meets, she had her teammates’ attention.

“She leads by example,” DeAngelis said. “She works crazy hard. When it’s time to go out and ski, she’s skiing. We were very fortunate with Anne on the Kents Hill team and Luca (DeAngelis) on the Maranacook team; they’re such hard workers yet they’re both very low-key and humble. They just do their job and make sure everyone else is focused on doing there (jobs).”

“As an athlete, she’s been such a successful runner and had a lot of individual success,” DeAngelis added. “It was interesting to see that kind of evolution happen for someone who is so obviously driven as an individual.

A fifth-place finish out of two dozen teams at the Sassi Memorial two weeks before the state meet gave the Huskies ideas that — with McKee’s younger sister Kate expected back from nagging injuries in time to give them a strong fifth skier — they could be in the running in Class C.

Once again, McKee led the way at the Class C state championships. She was fifth in the 5-kilometer freestyle, then won the bronze medal in the 5-kilometer classical the next day. A pair of top-10 finishes by teammate Aimee Sala and top-30 performances by Izzy and Mariah Charland and Kate McKee, gave the Huskies their first state Nordic plaque to accompany the back-to-back MAISAD and New England cross country running titles the school won during McKee’s career.

It was likely the last skate of competitive skiing for McKee, who will attend Bowdoin College, where she hopes to continue her running career. She couldn’t think of a better ending.

“The state meet was just the crowning part of it,” she said. “It sounds really cheesy, but it’s kind of like life. If you put everything into it, you get something out of it.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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