BELFAST — Jeremiah Sands of Falmouth wasn’t a fan of waiting to find out which team won the Maine cross country Festival of Champions on Saturday.

“It’s awful,” he said after finishing third in the 15th annual race in 15 minutes, 58.15 seconds over 5 kilometers – a school record and the fastest senior time of the day. “It should be close.”

But the two-hour wait proved worth it: The Falmouth boys placed first with 127 points. Scarborough – which has won the meet five times – took second (177), and Deering was third (203).

Cumberland, Rhode Island, won the girls’ race with 131 points. Greely was second (161) and Yarmouth third (208). More than 1,700 runners’ runners from 76 schools competed.

Luke Laverdiere of Yarmouth dominated the boys’ race in 15:33.84 – 18 seconds ahead of Wyatt Lord of Hampden Academy in 15:51.75.

Tia Tardy of Mount Desert Island was the girls’ winner in 18:32.71, followed by Malaika Pasch of Falmouth (18:36.49), Anneka Murrin of Yarmouth (18:36.83), Katherine Leggat-Barr of Greely (18:37.74) and Carolyn Todd of Greely (18:45.94).

Despite rolling an ankle a half-mile from the end, Sands was one of the three runners to go under 16 minutes.

“Honestly, I was about to give up. Then my coach told me I had a chance at breaking 16,” Sands said, limping. “I was like, ‘Forget the leg. Go for it.’ ”

The other top Falmouth runners were Conner Piers (16th in 16:38.21), John Auer (20th in 16:40.86) and Ben Wyman (35th in 17:03.91).

Along with breaking the school record of 16:01, Sands led the Yachtsmen past powerful Scarborough.

“Scarborough – don’t get me started,” Sands said in jest. “We like Scarborough – we’re really good friends off the course. But on it it’s every man for himself. They make us work.”

But after graduating three of its top runners, Scarborough is building. Shamus Malia and Andrew Goodman are the only two seniors.

“It was kind of in the bag last year with our top three,” Goodman said. “A lot of people didn’t expect us this time, but we were confident that we had a solid chance.”

Malia led the Red Storm, finishing 12th (16:34.42). Goodwin followed in 15th (16:37.97).

Malia and Goodwin agreed it’s nice being underdogs for a change.

“Less targets on our back,” Malia said. “We just get to do our thing.”

But considering the incoming talent, Scarborough’s future looks bright. Freshman Connor Coffin finished 22nd in 16:42.37 – the fastest freshman boys’ time of the day. Also helping Scarborough were sophomore Harrison Osborn (54th in 17:25.25) and junior Luke Grover (74th in 17:41.86).

“He’s absolutely incredible, best in the state,” Malia said of Coffin. “We still have a lot of work to do but I hope no one has counted us out yet.”

No one has, and rivalries remain as strong as ever.

Deering Coach Frank Myatt smiled when asked about the Red Storm.

“No comment,” Myatt joked.

Deering is among the teams looking to capitalize on Scarborough’s rebuilding season.

“We have a really strong tradition but we haven’t been as strong since the early 2000s,” Myatt said, noting the Rams last won a state championship was 2003. “We’ve had some good individuals recently but this is the first time in a solid 10 years that our team has been a competitor.”

After the race, Yahya Nure and Alex Troxell of Deering said a state title is within their reach They crossed the finish line almost simultaneously, with Nure taking 13th (16:36.62) and Troxell 14th (16:36.76).

“It’s always a competition – we typically finish within 10 seconds of each other,” Troxell said. “We have a very young team, too, so next year will be even better.”

“Deering kind of came out of nowhere,” Sands said. “They have a really strong pack.”

Other top finishers for the Rams were Jerry Mixangelo (48th in 17:18.44), Masho Gebremikael (62nd in 17:33.11) and Jose Bay-Cheng (65th in 17:36.34).

If the Festival of Champions is a preview of the state championship, the Class A boys’ title remains up for grabs.


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