CUMBERLAND — How do you run when your biggest threat is staring you in the face, or your nearest source of inspiration is suddenly out of the field?

Carsyn Koch and Hannah Austin will say to push on through.

Koch, of Washburn, completed the grueling 5-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 24 seconds Saturday to win the state Class C girls’ cross country championship at Twin Brook Recreation Area. It was her fourth straight title.

She approached a hilly course and its “Cave of Pain” segment, with a steep decline and incline, with a sense of dread.

“I came out from the get-go, worked the hills, tried not to pay attention to who was behind me,” Koch said. “It makes me feel more comfortable to have a lead, but when I do I feel myself constantly thinking, ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ Especially when I feel tired.

“This isn’t my favorite course but I knew if I was in pain, everyone else was in pain. I wasn’t too particularly impressed with my time. I’m just happy with my place, really.”

Austin, an NYA junior, finished second in 20:41.

Waynflete’s Sophia Canning, the Western champ, missed the meet. When the Flyers’ regional soccer semifinal was pushed from Friday to Saturday because of a wet field, Canning opted to stick with soccer, her primary fall sport.

At the regionals here a week ago, Austin finished 2 seconds off Canning’s winning time of 19:54. She learned of Canning’s absence just before the start.

“She definitely helped to push me last week but she’s faster than me, which I guess could have made me go faster,” Austin said. “If she’s not there, I would place higher but if she was there, she might push me to a better time. So it didn’t really matter either way.

“I just wanted to get second or third. I was third for a lot of the race; in the second mile I was second and trying to close the gap, but I think (Koch) was just so far ahead. I still felt I had a fairly good race.”

Tia Tardy of Mattanawcook (20:47) was third, Boothbay’s Sophia Thayer (21:03) was fourth, and Orono’s Kassidy Dill, Hannah Steelman and Lily Koffman placed Nos. 5-7 to give the Red Riots the boost they needed to edge Washburn for the team title, 48-50. Waynflete placed third at 107, Monmouth Academy was fourth with 131, and Boothbay was fifth at 150.

Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar cruised to the boys’ title in 17:00. Matthew Toussaint of Fort Kent came in 15 seconds later. NYA’s Matt Malcom (17:26) edged Winthrop’s Ben Allen (17:27) for third, and George Stevens Academy freshman John Hassett was fifth in 17:41.

Boothbay edged Orono for the team title, 68-70, placing three runners in the top 12, including a fight to the end by Benn Scully (18:10) and Robert Campbell (18:11) to finish Nos. 8 and 9.

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