CAPE ELIZABETH — While spectators at the finish line searched for the top Maine male in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, they looked for one of those double-digit bib numbers, signifying an elite runner.

Then along came No. 5891.

Jesse Orach, 22, of Gorham crossed the line.

Who figured?

Orach, a University of Maine graduate student, finished in 31 minutes, 32 seconds to win the Maine men’s division.

It was Orach’s first try at Beach to Beacon, a race he didn’t know he would run until five weeks ago.

“I was at a meeting at work and missed the sign-up, and I never put in for the lottery,” Orach said. “I put out an SOS on Facebook and one of my teammate’s moms wasn’t running. I got lucky.”

Orach paid the $5 transfer fee for her bib and jumped into the race, joining the regular pack of competitors, starting behind the elite runners.

“I started a little bit behind and kind of picked people off one at a time,” Orach said.

One of those he passed was Liam Simpson, 20, who finished second in 32:11. Spencer McElwain, 27, of Portland placed third (32:15) and Justin Tracy, 21, of New Vineyard was fourth (32:19).

Tracy, a former state mile and 2-mile track champion from Mt. Blue High in Farmington, will be a senior this fall at the University of Maine. Tracy was one of the few who recognized Orach, his teammate on the Black Bears’ cross country and track teams.

“Jesse caught up pretty quick (to the elite runners),” Tracy said. “He’s been really pushing it the past couple of years and he’s finally getting healthy.”

Don’t look for Orach’s achievements in high school cross country, because he played soccer for Gorham. He did run track for the Rams, then moved on to run cross country and track in Orono. He suffered a knee injury his freshman year and redshirted, giving him one more season of eligibility.

This past year, Orach was the Black Bears’ top runner in the America East cross country championships, placing seventh, and was named the conference scholar-athlete of the fall season with a 3.95 GPA.

Orach graduated in the spring with a degree in chemical engineering. He is going back this year for his master’s degree in business while competing one more season with the Black Bears, which means he couldn’t accept the $1,000 winner’s prize.

“I’m going to lay it all out on the line and see what I can do,” Orach said.

Unlike other local runners, Orach had not run Beach to Beacon.

“I never put that much effort in getting in. I kind of regret it now,” he said. “I figured it was one of my last hurrahs when it came to running.”

Simpson, on the other hand, is a Cape Elizabeth native and his house is an easy walk from Fort Williams Park. He believes this was his eighth or ninth Beach to Beacon. Simpson, a member of two Cape Elizabeth High state championship cross country teams, now runs for Williams College.

Simpson didn’t go out too fast but soon found himself passing others.

“I knew I was having a pretty good race,” he said. “I felt good. I didn’t have a goal. I was just going to go as I felt.

“I saw a couple of guys I knew were Maine guys, like Justin Tracy and Rob Gomez (who finished fifth among Maine men in 32:31).”

Simpson didn’t know if he was leading the Maine men’s division. He just kept going at a good pace.

Orach had a feeling he was ahead.

“After about Mile 2, I was by myself,” he said. “I saw one of the pro runners in front of me and I didn’t see anyone else. I assumed I was pretty close to being the top Maine guy.”

Indeed, Orach, wearing No. 5891, was the top Maine guy, finishing 19th overall.