The Class A North regionals may have seemed like a slam dunk for the Mt. Blue boys cross country team. After all, the Cougars had raced to first place in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championship two weeks ago and were facing the exact same slate of teams Saturday at Belfast.

Coach Kelley Cullenberg wasn’t buying the talk of winning being a mere formality, however.

“I certainly don’t take anything for granted, and I don’t want my kids to ever go into a race thinking they have it in the bag,” she said. “We talked a lot between KVACs and finally having the regional meet in terms of what they needed to focus on and potentially what goals should be, and the fact that it’s not easy being the team that people are chasing.”

The Cougars, however, made it look that way. Tucker Barber ran to victory in the A North race with a time of 15:57.04, leading Mt. Blue to 76 points and first place over Hampden (93), Mt. Ararat (99), Brunswick (120) and Bangor (125). Brunswick (71) won the girls title, finishing ahead of Cony (114, led by Anne Guadalupi’s second-place finish), Mt. Ararat and Mt. Blue (119 apiece) and Brewer (120).

“I was just amazed,” said Cullenberg, whose team mastered Troy Howard Middle School’s fast track after winning KVACs at Cony’s hillier course. “There was definitely a question in my mind in terms of how they were going to react on a course that was fairly flat.”

Caribou (71) won the B North boys title, ahead of John Bapst (118), Mount Desert Island (120), Erskine (125) and Camden Hills (127), while MDI (57) was the girls champion ahead of Camden Hills (73), Caribou (80), Ellsworth (118) and Waterville (126). Orono’s 26 points were good enough for the C North boys title ahead of George Stevens (54), Lee (138), Houlton (140) and Narragaugus (143), while GSA won the girls title with 35 points ahead of Orono (36), Limestone (119), Houlton (120) and Narragaugus (136).

Barber gave the Cougars a perfect start, using a faster-than-usual opening mile to post a time of 15:57. He was followed on the team by Zeke Robinson (13th), Emmett Trafton (19th), Sam Stinson (21st) and Isaiah Reed (22nd). Messalonskee’s Zachariah Hoyle (seventh, 16:39) and Cony’s Caleb Richardson (15th) and Jack Wroten (17th) qualified for next week’s state meet with finishes in the top 30 overall.

Guadalupi was the top area finisher in the A girls race, finishing second at 19:49 behind Mt. Ararat’s Katherine Leckbee (18:46). Talia Jorgensen (10th, 20:38), Cecelia Guadalupi (15th), Tara Jorgensen (27th) and Zina Gregor (60th) also scored for Cony, while Maggie Hickey (11th), Kahryn Cullenberg (16th), Meghan Charles (26th), Maeve Hickey (28th) and Julia Ramsey (38th) scored for Mt. Blue. Lawrence’s Jaden Gray (fifth, 20:14) and Messalonskee’s Peyton Arbour (ninth, 20:34), Emma Concaugh (14th) and Alexa Brennan (19th) qualified for states.

Waterville’s Nick Dall (16:26) won the B boys race, while Samuel Jamison (seventh, 17:45), William Bourque (19th), Osiris Marable (32nd), Joe Gay (35th) and Seth Allen (36th) helped Erskine to the top-five finish. Waterville’s Soren Nyhus (15th) and Connor Dolan (20th) qualified for states, as did Maine Central Institute’s Alexi Krechko (16th). In the B girls race, Waterville’s Cecilia Morin (fifth, 20:11) was the area’s lone top-10 finisher, and joined teammates Gwina Remillard (24th), Isabella Ruehsen (29th) and Merline Feero (30th) among qualifiers. MDI’s Tia Tardy (19:02) won the race, while Erskine’s Lydia Gilman (28th) also made states.

In Class C, Orono placed runners in spots fifth through eighth to take the win, while GSA’s John Hassett (16:19) won the race. On the girls side, runners in the second, third and fourth positions helped GSA take the closest win of the afternoon, though Orono’s Kassidy Dill (19:40.14) finished first.

In A girls, Messalonskee (sixth, 134) qualified for the state meet as a team, as did Waterville (sixth, 136) in B boys.

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