November 28, 2010

Boys' Cross Country MVP
It's catch him if you can; Eastman leads the way

Silas Eastman of Fryeburg Academy learned to take an early lead in races, and it paid off with a perfect season in Maine.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When Silas Eastman ran in the 2009 New England cross country championships, he got walled in by a horde of runners. He never broke free enough to run his own race, finishing 98th.

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click image to enlarge

Silas Eastman, still just a sophomore at Fryeburg Academy, is the Maine boys’ cross country MVP despite not living in Maine. His family lives about a half-hour from the school, in a New Hampshire town that sends its students to high school in Fryeburg.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Chase Brown, Boothbay, Junior

Brown became the only runner to beat Matthew McClintock in Maine, with a 10-second victory in the Mountain Valley Conference race. Brown finished second in the Western and State Class C races.

Dan Curts, Ellsworth, Freshman

Came on quickly, winning the Caribou Invitational in early September. After an eighth in the Festival of Champions, Curts won the Eastern Class B race, and placed third in the state Class B race.

Silas Eastman, Fryeburg Academy, Sophomore

Eastman capped an undefeated season in Maine with a 20th in the New Englands, best of all Maine runners. He took victories in the Southwestern Classic, Western and state Class B championships.

Tim Follo, Falmouth, Junior

Placed second to Eastman in several races, and was fifth in the Festival of Champions. Led the Yachtsmen to second in state Class B race with a second-place finish, recording the fourth-best time (16:21.30) overall.

Josef Holt-Andrew, Telstar, Freshman

Kept improving during the season. Finished 29th at the Festival of Champions in Belfast, then improved his time by 43 seconds (16:33.04) on the same course at the state meet to seal his spot on this team.

Harlow Ladd, Messalonskee, Junior

One of the dominant runners during the season with a second at the Festival of Champions, and victories in the KVAC and Eastern Class A races. A leg injury hampered Ladd at the state meet, where he finished 17th, 42 seconds off his time (16:11) on the same course four weeks earlier.

Matthew McClintock, Madison, Junior

Beaten only once during the year in Maine, McClintock enjoyed victories in the Festival of Champions, and the Western and state Class C races. He turned in the fastest time at the state meet, with a 16:00.91.

Nick Morris, Scarborough, Junior

Morris liked to start out slow and work his way up the field. He finished the season strong, too. After a third in the Southwesterns and a sixth in the Festival of Champions, Morris came on to win the Western and state Class A races.

Andy Reifman-Packett, Mt. Ararat, Junior

A week after leading the Eagles to the Eastern Class A title, Reifman-Packett found himself leading the state meet until Morris overtook him in the end. Still, Reifman-Packett ran a 16:28.85 for second place (seventh overall).

Christian Sleeper, Caribou, Senior

Sleeper was solid during the year but finished seventh in the Eastern Class B race. He rebounded by bettering his time by 48 seconds on the Belfast course at the state meet (16:36.94), finishing fourth in the B race (ninth overall), leading the Vikings to the state title.

Coach of the Year

Roy Alden, Caribou

It had been 12 years since an Eastern team won the Class B boys’ title and 72 years since Caribou did it. Alden had his Vikings set to run the race of their life and they did, with Christian Sleeper (fourth), Caleb Chapman (12th), D.J. Flynn (15th), Ryan Washington (29th) and Jesse Sandstrom (32nd), beating favored Falmouth by eight points.

Eastman, now a sophomore at Fryeburg Academy, learned. At the sound of the starter's pistol, Eastman takes off for the lead.

And in the 2010 cross country season in Maine, Eastman never surrendered the top spot.

Eastman, 16, capped his undefeated season with a victory in the Class B boys' state meet, covering the 5-kilometer Belfast course in 16 minutes, 2.44 seconds.

He followed his perfect season with a 20th in the New England championships, the first Maine runner to finish.

For all of that, Eastman is the Maine Sunday Telegram boys' cross country MVP.

"I had high expectations coming into the season," he said. "And it went as well as I could have expected."

Eastman took matters into his own feet, deciding to never to follow in a race.

"There's no chance of getting stuck in the back," he said.

Fryeburg Coach Bill Reilly said Eastman "is a front-runner, no doubt about that. The key is, I think he absolutely loves the spirit of competition, and the idea of working hard to achieve that level he can compete at.

"I can think of other runners who have the same amount of athletic talent and don't run as fast as he does. It's just that real desire to want to compete at the highest level. That's something as a coach I can't give him. All I can give him are the workouts."

While Eastman runs for Fryeburg Academy and is the MVP in Maine, he's no Mainer. Eastman lives on his family's farm in Chatham, N.H., one of the towns that send their students to the academy. Eastman lives about 25 minutes from the school.

The Eastman farm has seven milking cows and other animals. Silas said he's not loaded with chores during the school year, but in the summer there's hay to collect.

At least Eastman is in shape for the work, as is his brother Seth, 17, also a runner for Fryeburg.

Silas Eastman was home-schooled until high school but ran for his middle-school team, and in local road races.

He emerged quickly into high school running and finished second in the 2009 Class B state cross country meet. Eastman then competed in cross country skiing (12th in the state Class A Nordic championships) and outdoor track and field (fifth in the state 1,500 race).

In Eastman's first big race this year, he won the Southwestern Classic by 35 seconds. His domination continued throughout the year. There were two constants to an Eastman race -- his lead and the sunglasses he wears.

"I'm not sure why," he said of the glasses. "It's kind of a mental thing."

He will wear those shades for two more seasons, then hopes to run his way to a college scholarship.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or

kthomas@pressherald.com

 

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