Wells senior cross country runner Griffin Allaire, center, competes in a meet during the 2018 regular season. Allaire hopes his senior season this fall ends with a Class B state championship (COURTESY PHOTO)

WELLS – Cross country runner Griffin Allaire hopes his experience from last year leads to a successful season this fall. 

At the Class B state championship meet in Belfast, the Wells senior made a decisive move two miles into the 5-kilometer race, breaking away from the lead pack in hopes of running away to an individual state title. 

Allaire had the title within his grasp with 200 meters left, but over the final straight, Fryeburg Academy’s Alfie Warker and Freeport’s Martin Horne reeled in Allaire and powered past him. Walker won the race, with Horne one second back. Allaire crossed the finish line five seconds later.

“I’ve never really had a kick, to be honest,” Allaire said. “But just to know that I can hang back with the leaders and not have to run full-speed the whole way, and know that I can still have enough energy to be up at the front and make a move is definitely encouraging.”

Wells cross country head coach Bob Winn loved the aggressiveness Allaire displayed, but he thinks a change in strategy might help Allaire, who admits he isn’t known for his “top-end speed” that helps in close races.

Wells senior Griffin Allaire finished third at the Class B state championship meet in 2018 (COURTESY PHOTO)

“I think he took off a bit too soon,” Winn said. “What we’re trying to do is to get him to build enough confidence to say, ‘I can hang with these guys and I need to break them, not them break me.’” 

The process of building that confidence in preparation for Allaire’s final season started in the spring during outdoor track. At the Class C state championship meet in June, the coach and the pupil agreed Allaire would do the distance triple  — the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200 — with the goal of just winning each race, and not making any big moves.

The tactics paid dividends as Allaire won the 1,600 (4:28.45), 3,200 (10:10.31) and finished second in the 800 (2:03.12). 

“For him to do what he did at the state meet like that, that’s a sign,” Winn said. “We know he’s ready to roll this year.”

Allaire started running in fifth grade when he joined the school’s summer track program, which is coached by Winn. Allaire had played soccer up until then, but he found an immediate affection for running during the program.

“I just never looked back from there,” Allaire said.

Winn saw Allaire and took notice of his talent even at a young age. More importantly, Winn saw a drive that attracted the coach to the runner.

“He was one of the little critters I had,” Winn said. “I saw that he had some ability, and he was a worker then and more so now.”

Allaire put in the work during the summer by steadily increasing his mileage to improve his strength. Allaire also added morning runs three times a week as well as the afternoon runs. The purpose was to get used to running no matter the time of day. The preparation, Allaire said, hopefully, gets him that elusive Class B title.

“That’s the goal,” Allaire said.

Allaire got a good indication of where his fitness was at the Beach to Beacon High School mile in Cape Elizabeth, when he won the race in 4 minutes, 35 seconds against fellow Class B compatriots.

“That was definitely a big confidence-builder,” Allaire said. “I hope that’s a good indication of where I want to be at the end of the season.”

While Allaire’s goal is to win the Class B state meet in early November, Winn believes the senior can have his best race a week after at the New England Championship meet. Allaire finished 72nd at the meet a season ago, but Winn thinks with the seniors improved fitness and added strength, a top 10 finish could be in the works.

“(Top 10) is the goal,” Winn said. “I really want to see him do well because he works really hard. I have huge expectations for him, and I think he has them for himself as well. But at the end of the day, I want him to love the sport.”

 

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