BELFAST — Two runners broke the girls’ course record Saturday at the New England cross country championships at Troy A. Howard Middle School.

Julia Robitaille of Manchester West (New Hampshire) High School and Eleanor Lawler of South Kingstown (Rhode Island) each surpassed the previous mark of 17:47.

Robitaille won the race in 17:31.65, while Lawler ran 17:40.55 to snag second place.

In the boys’ race, Luke Laverdiere of Yarmouth was looking to cap off his undefeated season with a victory at New Englands, and he figured to be in the mix after coming within three seconds of a course record at the Festival of Champions in late September.

However, Drew Thompson of Fairfield Prep (Connecticut) took the New England title in 15:16, nine seconds slower than Josef Holt-Andrews’ record time of 15:07.

Pinkerton High School out of New Hampshire won the girls title with 163 points, 20 better than runnerup Bishop Guertin, also of New Hampshire.


Camden Hills finished 11th as the top Maine girls team. Grace Iltis finished 23rd (18;43.78) to lead the Windjammers.

Xavier High School of Connecticut won the boys’ competition with 74 points, nearly 30 ahead of second-place Staples, also of Connecticut. Deering finished 16th to top all Maine boys teams, thanks to a 10th-place finish by senior Yahya Nure.

In the first race of the day, the girls used the cold, dry conditions to their advantage. Robitaille, Lawler and four other runners — including Falmouth freshman Sofie Matson — came through the first mile split at 5:35. Matson had already encountered success on this course, having won the Festival of Champions in 18:17.

Lawler and company ran through the two-mile marker at 11:30, with Matson falling off the pace at 11:46. As more runners ran through the course, the more the hardened soil turned to mud, but not before Lawler led the way through the finish line. Lawler’s smile was intact as she crossed the finish line, knowing she had shattered the course record previously held by Cassie Hintz of Old Town, set in 2006.

Defending champion Jacqueline Gaughan of Exeter fell off the pace and finished in sixth with a time of 18:06.5. Matson finished with a time of 18:17.3, tying her personal best.

In the boys’ race, Laverdiere and Thompson stayed on each other’s hip and blazed through the first mile in 4:54. Oxford Hills senior Dominic Sclafani was a couple of groups behind, running through the mile marker at 5:16.


After the second mile, the ground had thawed and pockets of mud splattered the trails. Thompson started to pull away from the Maine favorite, passing the two-mile split at 9:58, with a four-second lead on Laverdiere.

Thompson finished by himself, his fist punching the air as he crossed in 15:16.66. In second place was Riley Fenoff of Danville School with a time of 15:48.45.

Eleven seconds later, Laverdiere finished in eighth place, a slow third mile his undoing.

Sclafani finished in 17:15.64, finishing his senior year of cross country with a 138th place finish. The amount of people posed a challenge for the senior on Saturday, as did the weather.

“I think it was partly the conditions and also I have an asthma so that was giving me a hard time,” Sclafani said. “There were more smaller packs but the packs were larger so it felt like you were surrounded by more people and there was less breathing room. I didn’t really enjoy that part but it made it a lot harder and I enjoyed that part. I like the challenge.”

Waterville’s Nick Dall was in a pack of runners just ahead of Sclafani, and finished with a time of 16:55.59, good for 101st.

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