Brunswick — If you take a look at the local high school cross country teams, you’ll find quite a pool of talented young student-athletes.

Mt. Ararat High School cross country coach Diane Fournier, second in on left, goes over instructions for her runners during practice at the high school on Wednesday. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Individual runners like Lisandro Berry-Gaviria, Will Shaughnessy, Will Perkins, Leah Wescott and Martin Horne, all who placed in the top 12 of their respective state class meets, look to compete near the top again this fall.

Mt. Ararat’s Berry-Gaviria is the two-time defending boys champ in Class A and expects to make a run at a third title. Brunswick’s Shaughnessy and Wiscasset/Boothbay’s Perkins each finished fifth in boys A and Class C, respectively. Richmond’s Wescott was 12th in girls C and Horne won the boys Western Maine Conference, B South regional and finished second in the B state meet.

Not just individuals, but team competition will also be strong for some of the area teams as Brunswick boys finished fourth in A, while both Mt. Ararat boys and girls teams finished seventh and 10th.

Freeport girls were seventh and the boys were third in B, and the Boothbay/Wiscasset boys placed fifth, while Lisbon came in at the eight spot, both in C.

Mt. Ararat

The Eagles will once again be strong in numbers as head coach Diane Fournier’s program continues to grow.

Berry-Gaviria leads the pack for the boys. The senior improved his 2017 time of 16:31.71 at Twin Brook Recreational Area in Cumberland to 15:35.40 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast a year ago. The senior has been competing in various events throughout the summer. 

Graduated are Tyler Bernier and Jack Mathieu, but senior Lucas Bergeron and junior Andrew Chamberland come back with experience for the Eagles. Also contributing to the squad this year will be juniors Nate Cohen and Jace Hollenbach along with sophomores William Chase, Luke Page and Grady Satterfield. Freshman Parker Libby will also factor into the team’s success.

“The boys are in a (good) position in terms of numbers of athletes who can be in the top 10, the roster limit for the league, and regional and state meets,” Fournier said. “It is going to depend on performance throughout the season and who to juggle around for the big meets based on those performances.”

After a strong showing in the conference and regional meets, Camila Ciembroniewicz returns to anchor the girls team. The junior placed seventh in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet and looks to improve her times. Seniors Katie Lynch and Fay O’Donnell will provide leadership, while junior Karli Leighton and sophomore Mary Wheeler will add to the team’s strengths.

New to the program this year are freshmen Addi Kenney and Clair Tankersley as well as junior Sadie Skinner, replacing graduates Casey Kane, Sara York and Zoe Stevenson.

“I feel we are strong in the top five or six, but I’m looking more than just one number five, six, or seven,” Fournier said. “Of the 18 on the team, I believe there are runners who will be competitive and help with those positions.”

Freeport High School’s Jane Dawson runs the course during Thursday’s Falcons 5k at Hunter Road Fields in Freeport. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Brunswick

The Dragons have a pair of new coaches in Heather Hoisington for the girls and Dan Dearing with the boys, taking over for longtime coach Dave Delois. The pair are looking forward to building on the successes from last year that included the boys capturing the Festival of Champions and Class A North regional and qualifying for the New England meet as a team for the first time.

Cam Ashby and Daniel Lyons both graduated from the team a year ago, but Shaughnessy is back for his senior season along with classmate Andrew Chingos. Juniors Tyler Patterson (ninth in KVAC and 10th in A North) and Aiden Simmons, along with sophomore Joey Valliere will also be running near the front of the pack.

“We have many boys who will be competing for places six, seven and eight,” Dearing said. “That should allow the depth we need to compete at a high level at the championship meets.”

Hoisington’s squad is “looking forward to another season of growth” as 75% of the Dragons are freshmen and sophomores.

“That doesn’t mean that they don’t have their goals set high,” Hoisington said. “I want to make sure each girl sets a goal for themselves. It could be anything, even something as simple as attending practice or shaving time. Having each individual set goals, it helps the entire team succeed.”

Hoisington will have sophomores Aela Hemberger, Lilian Hatrick, Margaret Chingos and Kaeden Green all returning, after leading the Dragons as freshmen and qualifying for Class A states last year.

Also returning are seniors Micaela Ashby and Caitlin Kelly, who will help the team set their sights once again on the state meet.

Morse

As is the case with the Dragons, the Shipbuilders also welcome a pair of new coaches, girls coach Paige Gallagher and Brent Luchies for the boys.

Both have worked together with the middle school team and have familiarity with the student-athletes, while bringing fresh new ideas to the program.

They replace Dane Dwyer, who coached the team since 1995.

“He is a true professional and is well respected by the kids. He is leaving the program in a really good place and I’m excited to see how Brent and Paige continue to develop it,” Morse High School athletic director Nathan Priest said.

With numbers as high as they have been in recent years, the pair are excited about the upcoming season with over 20 runners and mention that several of their returning athletes have stepped up their game.

“For several of our returning athletes, their dedicated summer training and mileage did not go unnoticed in this past week’s preseason workout and runs,” Gallagher said. “Coach Luchies and I are excited to be working with a group of hardworking athletes and look forward to seeing what the season will bring.”

On the boys side, the ‘Builders have the majority of their top seven athletes returning. Leading the way is sophomore Finn Thelen, closely followed by juniors Connor Freeman and Liam Scanlon.

For the girls, Lorelei Pryor, a senior, and sophomore Iris Hennin are both “looking strong heading into the season,” according to Gallagher.

Freeport

Even with the loss of 12 seniors, the boys roster brings back a talented group. 

Martin Horne of Freeport High School warms up before the Falcons 5k on Thursday. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Horne returns to lead the runners on the boys team as they look to make another run at the B state title. 

On the girls team, the Falcons will need to replace Lily Horne, their top runner from a year ago. 

“As always the goal for both teams is to return to states. We have the talent to do that on both squads,” Freeport coach Brian Berkemeyer, entering his 20th year in the program, 15th as the head coach, said.

Martin Horne’s time at the WMC Championship at St. Joseph’s College was 17:16, his B South regional time was 16:56.11 and his second-place at B States was 16:19.92. 

“Martin Horne is one of the best XC runners in the state,” added Berkemeyer. “We lost 12 seniors, but we have a strong freshman class, it will be interesting on how they progress.”

Joining him on the team are seniors Jeremy Brogan and Heath Cockburn along with juniors Nate Davis and Raveen Panosian and sophomore Sam Robinson. Newcomers — all freshman — Alexander Dawson, Jack DiRusso, Henry Horner and Ian Moore, will be looked upon to contribute.

Even with the loss of Lily Horne, Berkemeyer expects the girls to be right back in the mix. The Falcons will again compete with Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth.

Returning is senior Emma Abbott, juniors Elsa Blease, Jane Dawson and sophomore Allison Brown. Senior Caitlin Keliher and freshman Jillian Wight are newcomers to the team.

“Even though we lost Lily Horne, we have a solid core of girls and look to possibly surprise other teams,” added Berkemeyer.

Lisbon

With a veteran group of seniors coming back, paired with the returning upperclassman and the addition of a new group of runners, the Greyhounds are looking to continue to be competitive in the Mountain Valley Conference and get back to the state meet.

“With the additions we’ve gained this year, we come with a young group ready to make a statement,” coach Jeremy Williams said. “We look to work towards individual achievements and set some high goals.”

The senior core of Kadrian Rugullies, Alex Cole, Corbin Hall, Michael Ray and Dave Poulin give Williams upperclassmen leadership, while junior Max Boulet and sophomore Aidan Laviolette also return.

Lisbon’s top runner from a year ago, David Schlotterbeck, graduated, along with Geoffrey Shambarger, but Williams expects the newcomers to slip right in.

All sophomores, newcomers Hunter Burkardt, Darien Davis, Luis Mockler, Wyatt Perron and Ben Shambarger figure to add to the depth of the squad.

And for the first time in recent memory, the Greyhounds will have an athlete competing on the girls side as sophomore Abigail Lucas joins the team.

Richmond

Second-year coach Libby Ladner is excited for the upcoming season, as both the boys and girls teams have the numbers to compete as a team this year.

Freeport’s Jane Dawson (125) and Allison Brown (129) surround a Cape Elizabeth runner at the beginning of Thursday’s Falcons 5k in Freeport. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“I’m very excited for this season with enough runners to compete as a team,” Ladner said. “As program numbers grow, we are looking forward to competing as a team.”

Junior Owen Stewart returns for the boys as newcomers junior Andrew Vachon and freshmen Benjamin Johnston and Maxwell Trask join the team.

“Stewart will have a lot of support from both junior and freshman newcomers on the team,” Ladner said.

Seniors MacKenzie Caraway and Abigail Johnson are joined by juniors Erika Dickey and Leah Wescott. 

“Wescott showed a lot of promise last season and is looking forward to working hard again,” added Ladner.

Newcomers to the team this year are junior Paige Lebel and freshman Bailey Caraway.

Wiscasset/Boothbay

The combination of Wiscasset and Boothbay form a strong team, and only graduating one senior from last year, the squad looks potent again.

Nick Scott heads the team of talented runners and expects a strong showing from the teams.

Perkins returns after a successful fall last season. 

“Will has been extremely motivated since the end of cross country a year ago,” Scott said. “Will found lots of success both in indoor and outdoor track and field, placing at states during both seasons and is coming off a terrific summer of training.”

Connor Robertson, a freshman from Wiscasset, also competed in the Wiscasset track and summer program where he raced at nationals in both the 800- and 1500- meter events in California, and according to Scott, “has a lot of potential and should develop over the course of the season.”

Graham Harris and Fox Elder, both from Boothbay, return to the team. Both juniors earned MVC all-star accolades as sophomores, while Mason Erhard, Ryan Russell and Nathan Chatterton are all returning varsity athletes and will be part of the top seven that run at the regionals and states per Scott.

Glory Blethen of Boothbay will be back as the girls’ top runner. The junior was the top runner at last year’s MVC Championships. Also coming back this year is Grace Campbell. The sophomore from Boothbay looks to carry the momentum from her 2018 MVC season into this year’s campaign.

“She had a great summer of training and is looking to be very successful this season,” added Scott.

Freeport High School’s Jillian Wight runs towards the finish line during Thursday’s Falcons 5k at Hunter Road Fields in Freeport. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Maine high school teams have been practicing for two weeks now, with practice runs and alumni events, including Freeport’s Falcons 5K yesterday. Brunswick, Morse and Mt. Ararat will compete in today’s Laliberte Invitational at Cony High School in Augusta, while Wiscasset/Boothbay and Richmond travel today to Dirigo and Medomak Valley, respectively.

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