Kennebunk may have bid adieu to four-time Class A state champion (and current Oregon Duck) Abbey Leonardi, but a Rams runner still crossed the line first in the season’s opening conference meet.

Junior Laura Broderick finished more than 90 seconds ahead of her nearest pursuer Friday in an SMAA home meet that included Marshwood, Deering and Westbrook.

“She’s going to have a good year,” said Kennebunk Coach Mike Dinehart. “We’ll just keep bringing her along.”

Broderick placed 25th in the Class A state meet as a freshman and 12th as a sophomore. She learned from Leonardi, as did everyone at Kennebunk.

“Even me, an old runner, learned,” Dinehart said. “Everybody who was around Abbey saw her dedication and work ethic.”

One Leonardi lesson was the way she allowed for recovery by including easy days among her workouts.

The entire team would keep pace with her one afternoon, only to be reminded the next during a tempo run or speed workout why she now runs for a Division I program.

“Even right down to nutrition, Abbey made sure she ate really well,” Dinehart said. “Laura has certainly followed that.”

Dinehart said the Rams are taking a pass on two big upcoming meets, the Manchester (N.H.) Invitational on Sept. 22 and the Festival of Champions in Belfast on Sept. 29.

The latter will include 74 schools, all but six of them from Maine.

The former will include athletes from all six New England states as well as New York.

“We’re just going to stick with our SMAA schedule,” Dinehart said, “and try to be at our strongest when we go to the regional meet.”

 

SCARBOROUGH COACH Jim Harmon takes a different view, preferring to expose his runners to the bumping, jostling and chaotic starts of a large meet before lining up for regional and state competitions in October.

“The kids have to get used to getting out fast,” Harmon said, lest they get stuck in a stretched-out parade on a narrow trail. “It’s not like a meet with 50 kids where it’s easier to get out.”

The Red Storm will run in the Festival of Champions on the same course as this year’s state meet.

Organizers will break the biggest field in FOC history into freshmen, junior varsity and varsity races for the 754 girls and 923 boys who registered.

“We’ve gone to Manchester a few times, too,” Harmon said. “There’s so much competition.”

Harmon likes the scoring system (top five times for each school, regardless of race), and the chance to see other top Class A teams such as Mt. Ararat and Lewiston that he wouldn’t otherwise encounter until the state meet.

Plus, all 28 boys on his roster can race.

“It’s a great learning experience,” Harmon said.

“It makes the state meet seem easy.”

 

THE MASSABESIC BOYS went home empty-handed from last years’s regional and state Class A meets, placing third and fifth.

If last weekend’s results are any indication, that won’t happen again.

The Mustangs beat Scarborough and South Portland – last fall’s Western Maine champ and runner-up – at Smiling Hill Farm, with Cody Vachon, George Morrison, Michael Aboud, Remington Gaetjens and Andrew Mongiat all crowding into the top 11. Massabesic scored 30 points to 35 for Scarborough and 71 for South Portland.

“It was a big thing for them, when you beat a team as good as Scarborough,” said Massabesic Coach Mark Crepeau. “There’s a little swagger that our boys’ team hasn’t had.”

 

YORK’S SENIOR boys continued a tradition of preseason hill training.

It’s only one hill, but Mt. Washington does present a significant challenge.

“We’ve been bringing seniors to Mt. Washington for about 20 years,” said York Coach Ted Hutch, whose own high school coach brought him. “It’s a great and usually new experience for them.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH