FRYEBURG — They took off beneath cloudless skies amid temperatures approaching 20 degrees, and when they returned to the base of Stark’s Hill after traversing a hilly 5.1-kilometer course, the girls of the nascent cooperative team involving four high schools from Portland were Class A Nordic skiing champions.

“It’s really exciting,” said sophomore Sierra Aponte Clarke, a sophomore at Casco Bay High School who skied for a Deering team that fell a point shy of winner Fryeburg Academy last February. “Last year, we were so close. We would have won if we had the combined team. This year, we were all really happy to be able to be one team.”

The girls of Portland edged Mt. Blue of Farmington by two points, the same cushion that separated Mt. Blue’s boys from a fourth consecutive Nordic state title. Instead, that honor went to Falmouth, led by the 2-3 finish of brothers Nate and Ethan Livingood.

“The snow was firm but fast and the air wasn’t too cold,” said Ethan Livingood, a senior. “So overall, it was a great day to be out skiing.”

Monday’s individual winners in the classical race – Leavitt senior Roy Varney and Mt. Blue freshman Emma Charles – maintained their advantages to win Tuesday’s pursuit. Varney took a spill at the bottom of a hill and turned in the fourth-fastest freestyle time behind Fryeburg senior Alfie Walker and the Livingoods.

“That wasn’t too much fun,” Varney said of his wipeout. “But I managed to hold on. It’s kind of hard to win in the skate when you start first. You have nobody to go catch, but I like it.”

Monday’s classical race left the Portland girls with what amounted to a three-point edge over Mt. Blue entering the pursuit. All eight Portland skiers finished among the top 22 Tuesday, ahead of Mt. Blue’s fourth and final scorer.

Clarke moved up two places to sixth in the pursuit, with the starting order determined by the margin of finish in Monday’s classical race. Deering senior Grace Tumavicus was eighth, Portland junior Lucy Medd 10th, Portland junior Elizabeth Thomas 13th, Cheverus freshman Leska Whitmarsh 16th, Deering freshman Francesca Freeman 18th, Deering freshman Ally Butts 21st and Portland freshman Meribel Collin 22nd.

Although only the top four skiers from each team score, the fifth and sixth finishers displace other skiers, so Whitmarsh and Freeman factored into the two-point margin of victory.

Portland finished with 767 points to 765 for Mt. Blue. Leavitt was third at 742, followed by Fryeburg (732), Falmouth (726) and five other schools.

“We have a deep team, but we knew we were a little short,” said Portland Coach George Aponte Clarke, whose team was missing two of its top skiers. “You’re going up against Emma Charles and Chelsea Seabold (who placed fifth for Mt. Blue), and you know they’re going to have some high sticks. So we just had to hope that we packed it in deep, and we did.”

The Falmouth boys are similarly young. Nate Livingood is a freshman. Vance Boyd (13th) and Marcus Goodbody (18th) are sophomores.

The Yachtsmen nipped Mt. Blue, 768-766, with Portland’s coop team finishing third at 761. Leavitt was fourth at 737, followed by Fryeburg (715), Greely (708), Edward Little (687) and five other schools.

“All fall, they were in the gym,” said Falmouth Coach Kaitlyn Bernard. “They were working really hard. We knew that Nate was going to be a strong contender. Our first race, we were against Mt. Blue, and we beat them. At that point, we felt we had a really good shot, but we couldn’t take anything for granted. We’re very, very close.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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