WATERVILLE — After the boys of Maine Coast Waldorf had completed their classical race on Day 1 of the Class C Nordic state championships Thursday at sunny Quarry Road Trails, they offered a bit of advice to the female members of the team.

“They told me to use less kick (wax) so I could have a stronger glide,” said junior Olivia Skillings. “What happened to them is that they had too much kick and couldn’t pick up speed on the downhills.”

It wasn’t as if the Maine Coast boys had gone off the tracks in their race. They placed four skiers among the top eight to take a commanding lead in the two-day event that concludes with Friday’s freestyle race. Still, the Maine Coast girls took heed and did even better.

Led by Skillings, they swept the top four places Thursday and are poised to win their seventh straight Class C Nordic title Friday.

“We’ve been blessed,” Maine Coast Coach John Tarling said. “We’ve had good, dedicated parents and skiers who are committed. They want to improve and they work at it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum, that’s for sure. It takes a lot of energy.”

With temperatures cresting 50 degrees and abundant sunshine, conditions were prime for snow angels but less than ideal for fast times. And finding the right wax combination? Good luck.

“It was a tricky day,” Tarling said. “The conditions are so varied. You really have to have a good combination of skis that have glide but have enough kick to get up the hills, because there’s a lot of striding on this course.”

About 250 skiers from Class C and Class A slogged around the two-lap course – a total of 5 kilometers – going off at 15-second intervals through rolling hills for two kilometers before climbing what the locals call “Hero’s Hill,” and then coming down into the stadium area before taking a second lap.

“In your mind, you know you have that massive hill right at the finish,” Mt. Blue senior Tucker Barber said. “So you obviously have to go hard when you can, but you’ve got to know that at the end, you’ve got that guy waiting for you.”

Barber turned in the day’s fastest time, regardless of class, at 17 minutes, 56.2 seconds. As the Sassi Memorial champion, he was particularly interested in seeing how he stacked up against two of the best skiers from Class C, seniors Willson Moore of Waynflete and Tucker Pierce of Maine Coast. Moore and Pierce skipped the Sassi – an all-comers race in Rumford in late January – in favor of an Eastern Cup event in Vermont.

Moore won the Class C race Thursday with a time of 18:41.2. Deering senior Caleb Niles, the runner-up in Class A, finished in 18:28.5.

“I like it when we get to race together,” Barber said. “It helped me that the (Class) C people were here. I pictured them in front of me, even though it was intervals.”

Barber led a 1-3-6-7 finish for the Cougars, the defending Class A champion. Mt. Blue’s total of 17 points was considerably ahead of second-place Falmouth at 60. Oxford Hills was third with 63, followed by Deering (71), Leavitt (72), Portland (95), Fryeburg (111) and Greely (172).

Pierce, who has been under the weather this week, dropped to third behind teammate Nick Neveu, with Dylan Wu taking sixth and Eli Gundersen eighth to give Maine Coast 19 points in the Class C boys’ standings. Fort Kent is in second at 55, followed by Telstar (63), Orono (83), Waynflete (105), Boothbay (106) and four other schools.

Behind Skillings in the Class C girls’ race were teammates Louise Ahearne, Fiona Libby and Wilson Haims, giving Maine Coast a score of 10. Orono is second with 40, followed by Madawaska (86), Waynflete (90), Monmouth (115) and seven others.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a race this warm,” said Libby, a senior. “Two years ago, we were in Presque Isle and it was negative 30. This is 80 degrees warmer.”

Ahearne was only six seconds behind the 23:14.0 turned in by Skillings. Three girls from Class A managed to go faster, with Mt. Blue senior Julia Ramsey edging Deering senior Ewa Varney by less than two seconds in 22:53.3.

Varney started seven minutes later than Ramsey, and so was able to hear splits along the course to judge her speed in relation to Ramsey’s.

Near the finish, however, Varney accidentally poled against her boot instead of the snow and wobbled slightly before catching her balance.

Meghan Charles of Mt. Blue was third in 23:11.3. The Cougars also placed fourth and fifth to rack up 13 points to second-place Deering’s 40. Fryeburg is third at 54, followed by Leavitt (88), Falmouth (120), Oxford Hills (122), Camden Hills (136), Greely (151) and Edward Little (159).

The Class B Nordic meet got under way Thursday at Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, where Maranacook leads Freeport’s boys by 14 points and Yarmouth’s girls by 12. Zach Holman of Maranacook and Yacob Olins of Freeport were the two fastest boys, and Laura Parent of Maranacook and Grace Cowles of Yarmouth were the two fastest girls.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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