When Silas Eastman ran in the 2009 New England cross country championships, he got walled in by a horde of runners. He never broke free enough to run his own race, finishing 98th.
Eastman, now a sophomore at Fryeburg Academy, learned. At the sound of the starter’s pistol, Eastman takes off for the lead.
And in the 2010 cross country season in Maine, Eastman never surrendered the top spot.
Eastman, 16, capped his undefeated season with a victory in the Class B boys’ state meet, covering the 5-kilometer Belfast course in 16 minutes, 2.44 seconds.
He followed his perfect season with a 20th in the New England championships, the first Maine runner to finish.
For all of that, Eastman is the Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ cross country MVP.
“I had high expectations coming into the season,” he said. “And it went as well as I could have expected.”
Eastman took matters into his own feet, deciding to never to follow in a race.
“There’s no chance of getting stuck in the back,” he said.
Fryeburg Coach Bill Reilly said Eastman “is a front-runner, no doubt about that. The key is, I think he absolutely loves the spirit of competition, and the idea of working hard to achieve that level he can compete at.
“I can think of other runners who have the same amount of athletic talent and don’t run as fast as he does. It’s just that real desire to want to compete at the highest level. That’s something as a coach I can’t give him. All I can give him are the workouts.”
While Eastman runs for Fryeburg Academy and is the MVP in Maine, he’s no Mainer. Eastman lives on his family’s farm in Chatham, N.H., one of the towns that send their students to the academy. Eastman lives about 25 minutes from the school.
The Eastman farm has seven milking cows and other animals. Silas said he’s not loaded with chores during the school year, but in the summer there’s hay to collect.
At least Eastman is in shape for the work, as is his brother Seth, 17, also a runner for Fryeburg.
Silas Eastman was home-schooled until high school but ran for his middle-school team, and in local road races.
He emerged quickly into high school running and finished second in the 2009 Class B state cross country meet. Eastman then competed in cross country skiing (12th in the state Class A Nordic championships) and outdoor track and field (fifth in the state 1,500 race).
In Eastman’s first big race this year, he won the Southwestern Classic by 35 seconds. His domination continued throughout the year. There were two constants to an Eastman race — his lead and the sunglasses he wears.
“I’m not sure why,” he said of the glasses. “It’s kind of a mental thing.”
He will wear those shades for two more seasons, then hopes to run his way to a college scholarship.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or