To get faster, first Jesse Dalton had to slow down.

“(Dalton) was injured last year because he’s so enthusiastic about wanting to over-train. He wants to do everything imaginable to get the most out of him,” Mt. Blue cross country coach Kelley Cullenberg said. “He learned from that, which is always what you hope as a coach. He definitely listened to his body a lot more carefully this season.”

Training smarter and not necessarily harder helped Dalton cut his times all season. At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet at Cony High School in Augusta, Dalton, a senior, shaved 50 seconds off his 2017 time, earning all-conference status with a 14th-place finish. At the Class A state meet in Belfast, Dalton flirted with the 17-minute mark, running 17:09.30.

For his accomplishments, Dalton is the Morning Sentinel Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Dalton stayed healthy this season, and it paid off when he earned all-KVAC status.

“That was always on my mind,” Dalton said. “It was really great to do it this year with the amount of competition.”

“It was fun to watch,” Cullenberg added.

Running well in October begins in the summer for most athletes, and that was certainly the case for Dalton.

“He did his homework this offseason, and he was able to log a fair amount of mileage,” Cullenberg said. “He had to be a little patient through it, because often when you put in those miles, you don’t reap the benefits until the end of the season. The payoff was pretty big at the end.”

Dalton began to notice the work paying off when he won a race at Mt. Blue in 18:11.8.

“I was really happy with our home meet this year. From that, I knew it would be a good season,” Dalton said.

“That was only second meet of the season. That set the tone for him,” Cullenberg added.

Dalton’s improvement continued at the Festival of Champions in Belfast on Sept. 29. The annual race features the top teams in Maine, as well as strong teams from neighboring states and Canada. Dalton shaved almost a minute off his 2017 time in 17:09.09, finishing 26th amongst more than 850 runners.

“When I got to the Festival of Champions, I was pretty shocked at my time. It was a lot of fun,” Dalton said.

At the state meet, Dalton matched his Festival of Champions time, capping his strong season. Dalton plans on competing for Mt. Blue’s Nordic ski team this winter. He’s unsure about his college plans yet, but he hopes to attend a school that works academically and allows him to continue his running career.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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