Greely High cross country coach David Dowling first heard about Katherine Leggat-Barr last spring, when one of his runners told him about a freshman soccer player who had broken 20 minutes in a local 5-kilometer road race.

Further investigation revealed that Leggat-Barr not only played soccer, but basketball and lacrosse as well. What’s more, she would often run for fun after team practices.

“Some people would say, ‘You’re going for a run? You’re weird,’ ” Leggat-Barr said. “But I just love to run. Being outside, that’s where I’m happiest.”

Leggat-Barr opted for cross country this fall instead of soccer, and the result was both individual and team state titles in Class B and a best-from-Maine performance at the New England meet in Connecticut.

“She’s very determined,” Dowling said. “The hardest thing is to make her take an easy day. She doesn’t know what it means to run easily.”

Leggat-Barr is our Maine Sunday Telegram Runner of the Year for girls’ cross country.

In the Western Maine meet, she was the only girl to break 20 minutes – finishing in 19:46 over the demanding Twin Brook course to win by more than half a minute. At the state meet in Belfast, in the last of six races over a course muddied from cold rain and continued use, Leggat-Barr led a 1-2 finish with freshman teammate Izzy Evans. They were 16 seconds apart, with Leggat-Barr winning in 19:17.

And that was after Leggat-Barr slipped at the start of the race and then worked her way to the front of the pack.

“That course got bad fast,” Dowling said. “I think she could have run under 19 under better conditions.”

More important than time, however, was Greely turning the tables on Western Maine champion Yarmouth. The Rangers turned a six-point regional deficit into a five-point state title victory with help from senior Emily Mason, junior Sophia Stickney and freshman Kate Curran.

“The team title was what we were all aiming for,” Leggat-Barr said. “To come out on top together was really special.”

It marked the 12th state title for the Greely girls’ cross country program and first since 2001. “She was really excited about the team doing as well as we did,” Dowling said. “She was always about the team.”

At the New England meet, Leggat-Barr placed 32nd in a time that was 13 seconds and eight places ahead of Maine’s next runner, Class C state champ Hannah Steelman of Orono.

“I had done fairly well in middle school, so I knew I was going to be able to compete pretty well,” Leggat-Barr said. “But I had no (idea) that I was going to win the states.

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