WATERVILLE — Waterville Senior High School freshman Joshua Way figured it out quickly. Olivia Tiner, a senior on the Winslow High School cross country team, has known for a while.

If you can run well and succeed at Quarry Road, you can run just about anywhere in Maine.

“It’s really hilly. I’ve been told it’s the hilliest course we’ll run,” Way said after winning the boys race in a three-team competition Thursday between Waterville, Winslow, and Nokomis.

“Whenever anyone on our team hears Quarry Road, it’s like, ‘Oh boy,'” Tiner, who won the girls race, said.

The Quarry Road trail system is chock full of hills. The course for the high school races includes one of the longest, the North Koons Trail. It’s a steep, steady climb followed by a relatively flat straightaway, then a winding downhill. The course is two laps of the same thing, so whether or not runners feel good about their first North Koons experience, they get to do it again.

For Waterville and Winslow, Thursday’s race was the second in three races so far this season at Quarry Road. Way went in with a plan.

“Take the first lap easier. A lot of runners go out too fast,” Way said. His winning time was 17 minutes, 28 seconds, two seconds faster than his winning time on this course on Sept. 25 in the season-opening race.

Now that he’s run two of his three high school races at Quarry Road, where he often trains, Way said other courses will feel strange.

“It will be kind of weird running on flat courses,” he said.

Tiner said she appreciates the challenges the Quarry Road course presents.

“North Koons is tough physically, and it gives us runners a good challenge mentally,” Tiner said, as if in this season of constant coronavirus updates, a mental challenge is needed anywhere.

“I think we bonded well as a team with all this stuff going on,” Tiner said.

Waterville’s Abby Williams (592) and teammate Surya Amundsen (587) run during a meet Thursday at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

The defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B champion, Tiner is not taking one second of this senior season for granted. Running a tough course like Quarry Road twice early in the season is much better than the alternative, which is not racing at all.

“As a senior, knowing that this is it is bittersweet. As a senior, I know it’s my time,” Tiner said. “I see the young blood coming in, and I wish them well, but this is my last chance.”

Tiner also knows the end of her high school cross country career could come without warning, with the news of a Covid-19 outbreak at Winslow High School, or an increase of cases of the disease in Kennebec County that would cause the county to drop from the green designation to yellow in the state Department of Education’s return to school framework, and that would put a halt to the season, like in York and Oxford counties.

“Every bus ride home with my team could be my last one, and I’ll appreciate it,” Tiner said.

Quarry Road’s hills are a challenge, but they’re also something important. They’re an escape.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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