The Scarborough girls cross country team finds strength in numbers. This was clear last Thursday when the Red Storm hosted Sanford and South Portland at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

While Sanford took the first two spots, Scarborough captured five of the next six to easily win the meet with 27 points. Sanford was second with 48 and South Portland was third with 57. The Red Storm’s first three finishers crossed the line at virtually the same time, running side by each down the final straightaway.

“All of our top seven is really close, which is good,” said Melissa Dellatorre, Scarborough’s top finisher, taking third in 23:42.27. “(Depth) is definitely really important. It kind of takes the pressure off, knowing your teammates are right near you.”

Whitney Chamberlain was closest to her, placing fourth in 23:42.68. Abby Chick was fifth (23:42.97). After her came South Portland’s Maria Letourneau (sixth, 23:43.45), then Scarborough’s final scorers in Meghan Summerson (seventh, 23:44.16) and Kelsey Schild (23:53.59). Other South Portland scorers were Tanya Wilkes (ninth, 24:15.89), Bobielynn Fisher (14th, 25:09.56), Maureen Blanchard (15th, 25:14.46) and Kirsten Bakke (16th, 25:15.20). Sanford’s Vicky Hewey won the race in 20:38.60.

More impressive than Scarborough’s performance on Thursday, though, is what the team did two days later, winning the 2008 Maine XC Festival of Champions in Belfast. The Red Storm totaled 131 points, more than 50 points better than second-place Mount Desert Island’s 188. The meet featured nearly 50 of the top teams from throughout the state with a field of more than 400 runners.

Dellatorre again paced the Red Storm, placing 11th in 20:26.8. Chick was close behind in 13th (20:28.4). Chamberlain came in 19th (20:49.4). Sarah Dugas finished 22nd in 20:59.8. The final scorer was Libby Davis in 71st (22:28.9). Just behind her was Summerson in 73rd (22:32.3). Schild placed 102nd (23:04.5). Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk won the race in 18:43.2.

Scarborough remains No. 2 in the statewide MTCCCA/USM high school cross country poll, behind only Cape Elizabeth, which did not run in Belfast.

The Scarborough boys team jumped a spot to No. 1 in the latest poll, leapfrogging Greely after also winning the Festival of Champions. Scarborough scored 92 points while Greely was second with 99.

Craig Robinson was first to finish for the Red Storm, taking fifth in 16:41.9. Nate Hathaway placed eighth (16:50.9). Sam Chick was 18th (17:29.9). Sean Griffin and Brad Nakanishi completed the scoring, tying for 31st (17:51.2). Zach Brown took 71st (18:24.8) and Joe Prosack finished 80th (18:33.0). Alex Moser of York won the race in 16:28.6.

The Scarborough boys also won last Thursday’s meet at Smiling Hill Farm. The Red Storm scored 33 points to hold off Sanford (41) and South Portland (56).

South Portland’s Jonathan Clement won the race in 18:16.69, well ahead of the next finisher, Sanford’s Jake Gaudreau (19:00.90).

Clement is having a strong season as only two runners have beat him thus far. The junior hopes he can keep the momentum going into the postseason.

“I’m looking to go to states this year, definitely,” he said. “I haven’t made it the past two years and I don’t want to wait for my senior year to get there. This year is the year to push. Next year is the year to push even harder and try to win it all.”

The Smiling Hill course involves a steep uphill to start before leveling out. When Clement finished, he was speckled in mud.

“When you’d go out one of the loops, it was just mud,” he said. “There was one stretch where there was just mud everywhere. Look at my back. It was pretty gruesome out there.”

Hathaway (fourth, 19:02.09), Chick (fifth, 19:02.42), Robinson (seventh, 19:11.02), Nakanishi (eighth, 19:31.20) and Brown (ninth, 19:32.65) placed for the Red Storm. Placing for South Portland were Sam Redstone (11th, 19:45.16), Thomas Salamone (12th, 19:48.10), Tom Redstone (15th, 20:20.49) and Jon Medici (17th, 20:55.16).

While Scarborough may have been holding back in anticipation of the Festival of Champions, Sanford’s Gaudreau said it’s always fun going head-to-head with the Red Storm.

“They’re a tough team to beat,” he said. “They have a really deep lineup; they’ve always had one. It’s always fun to race against them because you get to see where you’d be at regionals and hopefully beat them, or beat individually one guy who beat you.”

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