Maranacook’s Anna Erb competes in the giant slalom race of the Class B state championships last week at Black Mountain in Rumford. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn Buy this Photo

The Maranacook Alpine ski teams are used to success, but it was a little sweeter this season.

After all, it’s not often a program pulls off a sweep — but that’s just what the Black Bears did last week at Black Mountain in Rumford.

The Maranacook boys and girls swept the Class B Alpine ski championships, cementing their dominance in the sport.

The last school to sweep the Class B Alpine championships was Fort Kent in 2016.

The Maranacook girls entered this season’s state races as the defending Class B champion.

“We went into the (girls) season knowing that we were going to have a target on our back, but (we knew) we were really deep,” Maranacook coach Ronn Gifford said. “We knew going in that we’d be targeted by everybody. But we really tried to keep the girls relaxed, focused on their skiing, not really worry too much about the competition. But, also laying out ‘Don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be easy, because there’s two or three teams down south that had a couple of strong skiers.”

Though the Black Bears jumped out to a lead after the Feb. 19 giant slalom competition — thanks to a fifth-place finish by Anna Erb, a sixth-place finish by Dana Reynolds and a seventh-place finish by Caroline Welch — it didn’t come without a price. Senior Katie Ide and sophomore Emily Harper both sustained injuries during their giant slalom runs.

Maranacook’s Dana Reynolds competes in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference race last month at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The Black Bears showed their depth, however, thanks to Erb, Reynolds, Welch and Ella Delisle, who chipped in with a 21st place finish to help contribute as well.

“We knew we didn’t have a lot of room for a mistake the second day,” Welch said. “Especially having the injuries, we knew we had to step it up that second day. After the first day, we were a little worried about what the second day would be like.”

Ide and Harper returned the following day for the slalom. Ide lead the Bears with a seventh-place finish while Welch — whom Gifford described as “the glue” for the team over the course of the two days — finished 14th. Harper finished 25th. Continuing to show its depth, Maranacook also received a 17th place finish from senior Vita Scott.

“(Vita) started off this season skiing incredibly well, off the charts,” Gifford said. “Then kind of had a midseason slump and was kind of coming back on it the last week or two. It was the perfect time for it because she threw down two beautifully flawless runs.”

Although Maranacook finished third for the day with 741 points, its effort in the giant slalom (765 points) was enough to give the Black Bears 1,506 points, just eight more than runner-up Fort Kent.

“Coming off of winning last year, there was a lot of pressure to do it again,” Welch said. “Now that the season is over, and we put in all that work, it’s a good feeling. There’s a lot of stress taken away to do what we wanted to do.”

For the boys, Gifford kept the strategy simple.

“The thing that I was trying to get through to them was, if you can go out and ski the way you can ski, you don’t need to be Bodhi (Miller),” Gifford said. “You just got to be Robbie (McKee), Sam (McKee), Corbin (Howe) and Dylan (McGarr) and Collin (McGarr) and ski the way you ski. Do your job, and you’ll be in the hunt.”

It might have seemed difficult to follow that strategy after the first day of the state championships, when Maranacook finished the giant slalom with 717 points and trailed Fort Kent by 36 points.

“It was pretty somber (ride back), especially for the guys,” Robbie McKee said. “We were all just kind of struck by the fact that were like, ‘Oh my God, it’s just going to be the next year of fourth place.’ I’ve got to give it to the guys, though. Just all year long, they’ve just been grinding.”

Maranacook’s Robbie McKee competes during the Class B giant slalom championship race last week at Black Mountain in Rumford Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

The Black Bears overcame their rough first day with their best effort in the slalom, finishing with a state-best 758 points. Robbie McKee, who placed fourth in the event, led the Bears. Samuel McKee (9th), Dylan McGarr (15th) and Corbin Howe (18th) followed.

The effort in slalom gave Maranacook a two-day score of 1,475, a 25-point victory over second-place Lake Region.

“We basically just came back, we said ‘We know what to do, each have to go out there and just go. Just do it.,’ ” Robbie McKee said. “That’s exactly what happened and it was just crazy to watch.”

Welch was happy both teams were able to pull out the victory, as it made for a more enjoyable ride home.

“It’s sometimes hard to celebrate if it’s only one of the teams,” Welch said. “It was really great having both teams win, because there was no awkwardness, or you didn’t feel like you couldn’t celebrate too much. It was great having both teams win, that way everyone was just happy.”

“Every team is special and every championship is amazing,”  Gifford added. “The key was to get them to all believe and understand where they were at, what their talent was and trust each other, believe in each other, believe in yourself and make it go happen…One of the parents said ‘I’ll bet you’ll be smiling for a while’ and I said ‘Yup, I’ll be smiling, I’ll be crying because I’m so proud of both of the squads.'”

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