RUMFORD — Julia Ramsey knows about disappointment, so she didn’t get her hopes too high for the Sassi Memorial Classical ski race.

A year ago, as a Mt. Blue High junior, she finished 47th, slowed by a yet-to-be-detected case of mononucleosis.

Fully recovered, Ramsey capped her Sassi career with a flourish Saturday, winning the state’s biggest high school cross-country skiing race by half a minute in 16:59 over five winding kilometers at Black Mountain.

“I was hoping to be on the podium,” Ramsey said, “and always had that little goal in the back of my head to win.”

Ramsey’s victory completed a Mt. Blue sweep of top honors. Two hours earlier, classmate Tucker Barber won the boys’ race by 49 seconds in 13:38.

The two races featured a total of nearly 300 skiers from 22 schools, on an overcast day with temperatures just below freezing, blustery winds and sun that occasionally peeked out from behind cloud cover.

The tracks were less than pristine, given recent freeze-and-thaw cycles and the hundred-plus middle school racers in Saturday morning’s Junior Sassi before the main event.

Still, conditions were “pretty good considering all the weird, wacky weather we’ve had for January,” Ramsey said. “The little bit of fresh snow made it a little awkward for waxing at first, but by the time it got to the girls’ race, I think the snow, with this little bit of sun, started to transform and got skied in, so it was actually quite fast.”

Ramsey was 49th on the course, each girl starting at a 15-second interval. The two skiers immediately in front of her were Ewka Varney of Deering and Grace Cowles of Yarmouth, both threats to win.

“It couldn’t be a better place to start,” Ramsey said. “Just watching them I said, ‘OK, what can I do to ski the same pace or faster, but more efficiently?’ I was thinking about that and how to save energy so I could really work it on the uphills.”

Cowles turned in the second-best time, 17:14, but was disqualified for gliding on her herringbone technique, a fate that befell six other skiers.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m still happy with how I did,” Cowles said after learning of her DQ. “We’ve only classic skied twice. Hopefully, our next classic race we’ll all be prepared.”

Maranacook junior Laura Parent wound up second in 17:29, followed by Mt. Blue’s Meg Charles (17:47) and Varney (17:49). Louise Ahearne of Maine Coast Waldorf was fifth in 17:56.

“Last year was a weird year for me because I just kept getting slower and slower,” Ramsey said. “I wasn’t really sure why. Then I went to the doctor and got blood work done and realized I had mono at some point, and just never caught it.”

The boys’ runner-up was Yacob Olins, a Freeport senior who started 15 seconds behind Barber and tailed him for three kilometers before the Mt. Blue senior (and Class A cross country state champion) pulled away.

“He had kick on the hills,” said Olins, whose time of 14:27 edged that of third-place John Lane of Yarmouth by three seconds. “It seemed like I didn’t, really.”

Zach Holman of Maranacook, Caleb Niles of Deering and Bennett Hight of Freeport rounded out the top six.

“There was some loose snow on the course and that was kind of weird for the wax,” Barber said. “Going up the big hills there was some chop, but if you just powered through them, it was a good time.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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