RUMFORD – Before hosting the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Championships, organizers of the event made trails at Black Mountain wider in order to meet standards for high-level international racing.

Part of that widening to nine meters came on the most significant incline, known throughout the state as High School Hill.

Freeport native Lucy Garrec, now a senior at the University of Vermont, has been climbing that hill since junior high. So what did she think of the change?

“I didn’t really notice,” she said with an apologetic smile Friday after finishing 10th in the women’s 20-kilometer classical race, which included six summits of High School Hill. “I’m usually pretty singularly focused when I’m up there.”

Black Mountain sells T-shirts with the outline of a Nordic skier and the words, “I Survived High School Hill.”

Though it may seem like just another incline to the national-level skiers visiting Rumford this week, locals view it with something approaching reverence.

“I like High School Hill,” Garrec said. “I think Mainers tend to take it a little more seriously than everyone else because it’s so ingrained in our childhood memories.

“It’s like the hill of all hills, even though it’s not that long. It’s kind of folkloric.”

IN JUNIOR RACING Friday, Ben Lustgarten of Vermont and Middlebury College and Anne Hart of Minnesota and Dartmouth College won classical titles at 10 and 5 kilometers, respectively.

Lustgarten, a college sophomore, completed the 10K course in 27 minutes, 35 seconds to beat runner-up Scott Patterson, a University of Vermont sophomore from Alaska, by three seconds.

Ben Saxton of Minnesota was third in 27:43, followed by the rest of the field of 100 young men that included Maine natives Tom Rabon (Turner) in 25th at 29:13; Sam Humphries (North Yarmouth) in 49th at 30:06; Nathan Moreau (Falmouth) in 61st at 30:24; Nick Michaud (Fort Kent) in 72nd at 30:58; Connor Regan (Cumberland) in 80th at 31:40; and Kuba Chandler (Portland) in 93rd at 34:29.

In the women’s 5K race, Hart edged Massachusetts high schooler Corey Stock of Lincoln-Sudbury by nine tenths of a second in 14:35. Marion Woods of Alaska was third in 14:44.

The field of 84 included Maine natives Rachel Hall (Cumberland) in 25th at 15:41; Amalia Siegel (Bethel) in 67th at 16:53; Sadie James (Avon) in 68th at 17:08; Hadley Moreau (Falmouth) in 70th at 17:11; Alice Hotopp (Bethel) in 74th at 17:19; Shelby Aseltine (Wilton) in 76th at 17:28; Danni Anderson (Fort Kent) in 79th at 17:45; Zoe Chace-Donahue (Freeport) in 80th at 17:45; and Taren McGray (Turner) at 83rd in 18:39.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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