ELLSWORTH – Andy Beardsley has a good explanation as to why Dan Curts not only won the Class B cross country state championship last weekend but has an even brighter future.

“He’s not afraid to hurt.”

What?

“He now knows how to push yourself when you don’t feel like pushing yourself,” says Beardsley. “When you’re taxed to the limit, you push even though it hurts.”

Beardsley should know. He is a gifted runner himself. He has coached the Ellsworth cross country team for more than two decades. And, he’s a proud uncle and coach after watching his nephew edge Fryeburg Academy’s Silas Eastman by less than a second.

“I remember (Dan) as a little kid. He ran a race and did well, you could see some signs,” said Beardsley.

Curts remembers, too. “I think it was in middle school. I remember I wanted to finish in the top five. I won and it felt good. I was hooked.”

Now he is just the latest in a long line of great Ellsworth runners, following Louie Luchini (top Maine finisher in this year’s Beach to Beacon), Joey Luchini, Steve and Corey DeWitt, Ben Shorey and Rob Pendergist. Those former Eagles went on to compete on the national stage at places like Stanford, Dartmouth and the Olympic trials.

“I was always reading about them. They’re kind of like gods in my mind,” says Curts. “I’d like to run in college, too.”

First things first. Curts will run in the New England high school cross country championships next weekend in Cumberland, then head to New York for the Foot Locker regionals later in the month. If things go well, there’s a national meet after that.

It all means he must stick to his routine. No running in the morning. Lots of water during the day. A 15-minute chat in his uncle’s classroom after school. Then a workout, the length of which depends on the day.

“I am so comfortable talking with coach, about training or anything,” Curts says about his relationship with Beardsley.

“He works hard. He listens. He’s willing to change, like his eating habits,” says Beardsley. “Sometimes those tiny things make all the difference.”

TWICE IS NICE: How many coaches can say they took both a girls’ and boys’ team to a state title game? Adam Leach coached the Hermon Hawks in Saturday’s Class B girls’ state final. In 2006, Leach guided the Bangor Rams boys to their first Class A championship.

FEELING IT: Houlton’s boys’ soccer team had never won an Eastern Maine title until last year, but now the Shiretowners have back-to-back regional championships, plus their first Class C state title after beating Hall- Dale 2-0 on Saturday.