The girls line up at the starting line for the MVC cross country championships at the University of Maine at Augusta on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA — Maranacook High School coach Jay Nutting knew the outlook was good for his girls cross country team going into the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships. But he also knew that that was far from a guarantee.

“We were going into it cautiously optimistic,” he said. “I try to remind the kids that it’s important not to think of hardware and places. If everyone races to their fullest potential both physically and mentally, everything else is going to fall into place.”

And once again, it did. The Maranacook girls won for the third straight year in Class B, getting first- and second-place finishes from Molly McGrail and Sophie O’Clair, respectively, on its way to 35 points at Cony High School.

Medomak Valley (92) was second, followed by Morse (97), Waterville (108) and Lincoln Academy (113).

“It shows that we’re in a good place. We’ve worked hard to get to this point in the season,” Nutting said. “Going into the season of larger races, it’s the first one, and we certainly pay a lot of attention to it.”

The Lincoln boys, the defending state and KVAC B champion, defended its title by putting three runners in the top four — including defending race winner Sam Russ in first — for 33 points and first place over Morse (47), Maranacook (67), Belfast (115) and Erskine (116).

“When you have 1, 2 and 4, you’re usually going to be pretty good in the standings,” coach Garrett Martin said. “Our guys have had an up-and-down season, and we’re focused on the postseason. I think today was a good step in the right direction.”

In the Class A boys race, Bangor scored 45 points to edge Brunswick (55), Hampden Academy (69), Mt. Ararat (76) and Cony (179).

Brunswick’s Margaret Chingos races in the KVAC meet on Saturday. (Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal)

Lisandro Berry-Gaviria of Mt. Ararat won the A boys race. Bangor had a second-place finish from Gabe Coffey, and he was followed on the team by Daniel McCarthy (fifth), Dwight Knightly (seventh) and Gordon Doore (12th).

“Brunswick’s an exceptional team, they beat us at the Festival of Champions. They were certainly our target,” Bangor coach Roger Huber said. “We did just start race-specific training last week. We had a couple of exceptional workouts on Monday and Wednesday. I think the performance of those workouts gave them a bit of confidence coming into today’s race.”

Camden Hills repeated as Class A girls champion, totaling 48 points to top Mt. Ararat (90), Mt. Blue (122), Bangor (136) and Brunswick (145). The Windjammers were led by Augusta Stockman (fourth), Elsie Hildreth (sixth), Claire Wyman (eighth) and Miranda Dunton (14th).

“They’ve been sick, and they had a hard time today,” coach Helen Bonzi said. “They did not race as well as they wanted to, but as a team, they’re super strong. … They stuck with it, and they really worked hard to get to where they were today.”

The A winner was Edward Little’s Jillian Richardson, who pulled away from the pack and whose time of 19:27.8 was more than a minute better than anyone else’s. Mt. Blue took the next two spots, with Kahryn Cullenberg finishing second at 20:37.4 and Emma Charles finishing third at 21:02.1.

Mt. Ararat’s second-place finish was spearheaded by Camila Ciembroniewicz, who finished seventh in 21:16.4.  Sara York, Karli Leighton, Katie Lynch, Fay O’Donnell, Caitlin Chambers and Zoe Stevenson also competed for the Eagles.

For Brunswick, Aela Hemberger was the top finisher, taking 20th. Margaret Chingos, Kaeden Green, Maelys Biot, Adeline Dolley and Desiree Tanner were the Dragon finishers.

There weren’t many surprises in the boys’ race, with Mt. Ararat’s Berry-Gaviria, the defending state champion, pacing the field on the muddy trail with a time of 16:33.5 — a mark 32 seconds faster than his KVAC-winning time last year.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better race,” he said. “It’s tough, for sure. It takes some getting used to. But when you train all through the winter and the mud season, you get more adapted to it.”

He had a challenger throughout in Bangor’s Coffey, who was on Berry-Gaviria’s heels much of the way before finishing at 16:45.4.

Brunswick was the team runner-up, with Will Shaughnessy’s third-place finish leading the way. Tyler Patterson was ninth, while Dragon teammates Cameron Ashby, Joseph Valliere, Andrew Chingos, Daniel Lyons and Aiden Simmons ran.

For Mt. Ararat, Grady Satterfield, Nate Cohen, Lucas Bergeron, Andrew Chamberland and Tyler Bernier ran.

Morse’s Finn Thelen (245) and Brunswick’s Joseph Valliere run past the crowd in the KVAC meet on Saturday. (Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal)

Lincoln had Russ (17:26.8) and Jarrett Gulden (17:39.0) in the top two spots in the B race, and teammate Jojo Martin (18:12.3) took fourth. Maranacook’s Luke Bartol was third at 18:06.9.

“This was, I felt, my best race of the season,” Russ said. “I’ve had some disappointing performances leading up to this, but I came into this race this week really hoping to turn things around, and get back on track for the championship season. I’m pleased with how I did, how the team did, how everyone ran.”

In Class B, Morse’s second-place showing in the boys race was led by Finn Thelan, Connor Freeman and Ben Brewer, as each earned top-10 finishes. Teammates Connor McNish, Liam Scanlon, Aidan Pryor and Caleb Avery were in action for the Shipbuilders.

The Morse girls claimed third as Jenny Wilbraham finished in fourth in 23:07.1.

Other Shipbuilders were Lorelei Pryor, Iris Hennin, Sydney McCarren, Emily Adams and Madelyn Jones-Cressey.

Brunswick and Mt. Ararat head to Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast on Saturday for the Class A North Regional, while Morse is at Twin Brook in Cumberland for the Class B South Regional.

WMC Meet

STANDISH — The Western Maine Conference Championships were contested at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish on Friday.

York claimed the boys title with 79 points, with Cape Elizabeth (96) and Freeport (109) second and third, respectively. Yarmouth (135) and Wells (136) rounded out the top five.

Martin Horne of Freeport took home the individual title, finishing in 17:16, just two seconds in front of Cape Elizabeth’s Jack Bassett.

Alexander Les, Paul Biberstein, Nicholas Mitch, Heath Cockburn, Tanner Morrison and Jeremy Brogan also competed for the Falcons.

In the girls race, a dominant pack by Yarmouth led the Clippers to the title.

Yarmouth finished with 59 points, six ahead of runner-up York. Wells (119), Fryeburg Academy (133) and Cape Elizabeth (145) rounded out the top five spots, with Freeport’s 148 points good for sixth.

Lily Horne was second overall for Freeport. She ran the 5K course in 19:52, behind Cape’s Lila Gaudrault, who ran ahead in a time of 19:29.

Other Freeport finishers were Elsa Blease, Jane Dawson, Emma Abbott, Allison Brown and Kaitlynn Morrissey.

Freeport joins Morse at the Class B South Regional on Saturday at Twin Brook.

Mt. Ararat’s Lisandro Berry-Gaviria, 248, leads during the KVAC meet on Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta. (Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal)

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