December 6, 2013

Girls’ runner of the year: Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely

Dedication made a difference.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Three weeks ago, as she prepared to run the New England meet for the final time, Kirstin Sandreuter had a chance to reflect on an unusual autumn.

click image to enlarge

Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely not only recovered from a painful foot injury to win the regional and state meets in Class B, but smashed her personal best in placing fourth in New England.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

ALL-STATE GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY

Shannon Conley, South Portland senior

Rebounded from a DNF at the regional meet to finish second in Class A at the state meet with a time (19:40) faster than all but two runners, regardless of class.

Maddy Doyle, Marshwood junior

Sixth in Class A after finishing sixth in Western Maine. Ninth runner from Maine at New England meet with an overall placing of 73rd.

Isabel Erickson, Mt. Desert Island senior

Eastern Maine runner-up who finished third in Class B to lead the Trojans to a third straight state title. Seventh Mainer at New England meet.

Gabby Johnson, Massabesic junior

Third in Western Maine and fifth in Class A to help the Mustangs earn their second straight runner-up plaque, both in region and in state.

Carsyn Koch, Washburn senior

Won fourth straight Class C crown, joining Kennebunk’s Abbey Leonardi (Class A 2008-11) and Maranacook’s Scott Roberts (1982-85) in a rare sweep.

Aleta Looker, Ellsworth senior

Eastern Maine champion and runner-up in Class B who also placed among the top 50 in New England (48th), the third runner from Maine.

Kialeigh Marston, Bonny Eagle sophomore

Class A state champion with the second-fastest time (19:34) of the day. Also won the Festival of Champions and helped the Scots defend their state title.

Kiera Murray, Cheverus senior

Improved to third in Class A after a fourth-place regional finish. One of the five runners to break 19:50 at the state meet. Fourth Mainer at New Englands.

Kirstin Sandreuter, Greely senior

Class B state champion with fastest time (18:37) of any class. Fourth in New England with time (17:48) bettered in Maine history only by Leonardi and Cassie Hintz of Old Town.

Mary Szatkowski, Bonny Eagle senior

Regional runner-up who finished fourth in Class A to help the Scots win a second straight state title. Second Mainer in New England, 44th overall.

Coach of the Year

Lin White, Orono

Built up a program at his alma mater that began with only three girls and culminated a climb from eighth in 2010 to sixth in 2011 to second last year to a two-point victory over defending champion Washburn in Class C. The state title is Orono’s first in cross country since 1976.

A Greely High senior, Sandreuter geared up for her final high school fall by logging 50-mile weeks with some twice-daily runs. Her diligence showed when she ran a blazing 5:50 pace at the Beach to Beacon 10K.

Her first cross country race resulted in her first sub-19-minute time over 5 kilometers, and by the end of September she had won the small school division of the Manchester (N.H.) Invitational with an 18:59 clocking.

Then came a painful foot injury and Sandreuter was sidelined for a month. It was a frustrating ordeal and left her wondering whether her regimen of jogging in a pool and riding a bicycle would be enough to maintain her fitness level when (if?) she gained clearance to run again.

“I kept active and I kept figuring out ways I could make the most of it,” she said. “As much as I was trying to trust the process, it was frustrating.”

She finally returned for the Western Class B meet and defended her title in 19:02. A week later, over the same Twin Brook Recreation Area trails, she won her first state title in a personal-best time of 18:37.

One more week, and she was back in Manchester, gazing at a field of New England’s best schoolgirl runners, and uncertain of where she fit in.

“Her goal,” said Coach David Dowling, “was to go with the leaders, see what she could do.”

Sandreuter went out fast. She held the lead at the mile mark. Eventual winner Hannah Debalsi of Staples High of Westport, Conn., took control but Sandreuter stayed within a chase pack and finished fourth (three-tenths of a second out of third) in a time that shocked her: 17:48.

“It’s hard for me still to believe that’s what I really ran,” she said. “I guess it worked out that I was maybe fresher than I would have been (without the injury). That was frustrating but I think it worked out for the better.”

Sandreuter is our girls’ Runner of the Year.

On Saturday at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals in New York, Sandreuter placed and earned a ticket to San Diego for the national meet Dec. 14.

“She knows what to do with a goal,” Dowling said, “and that’s to show up every day and work hard. She does that in spades. I have to back her off, often.”

Sandreuter is similarly successful in the classroom, where she has achieved the No. 1 academic ranking in her class. She applied early decision to Cornell and should hear by the middle of December.

She also visited Syracuse and Connecticut.

“She’s very driven,” Dowling said, “but modest and easy-going. She’s what we all hope for and get once in a career or so.”

As team captain, Sandreuter organized dinners and spirited events.

“She was conscious of the building-the-team aspect,” Dowling said, “which isn’t always there for the elite athlete.”

Sandreuter’s brother Stefan runs for Colby College. She joined him in North Yarmouth’s summer track program when she was 6.

“It’s simple and fun and you can do it pretty much anywhere,” she said.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

Gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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