Freeport runners Henry Jaques and Chandler Vincent take the lead during the 2015 Class B state championship race in Cumberland Portland Press Herald file photo

 

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of our series, “Remember When,” in which we revisit some of the memorable games, events, streaks and runs in high school spring sports we’ve covered over the last few decades.

 

FREEPORT— After capping off a gritty 2014 season with a Class B state title, the Freeport boys cross country team had no reason to think they couldn’t do it again the following fall.

So it did.

“My motto when coaching the team is that you don’t know how fast you can run, so go find out on the track, they sure found out in both of those state meets,” said Freeport head coach Brian Berkemeyer.

In both seasons, the Falcons grinded through the regular season, then controlled the postseason.

“It showed me why we did it,” said Chandler Vincent. “Seeing all of our hard work pay off for two years in a row was a special moment for all of us.”

Vincent finished as the top Class B runner in 2015, after finishing second the previous season.

The Falcons came into both championship races as underdogs, especially in 2014, when they were the final team to qualify for states.

“No one gave us a shot to win when we qualified,” Berkemeyer said. “All five of my top runners ran a personal best on that day. I remember seeing the times and realized we had a good shot to win. The time that it took for the officials to count the scores felt like an eternity.”

Berkemeyer has been coaching for the better part of the last 30 years. He credited the 2014 title run as a “turning point” in his coaching career.

“We weren’t on anyone’s radar before, that changed after that race,” Berkemeyer explained. “That day really changed the tone of the program, it turned the corner for me as a coach. The program has only grown since then.”

Tyler Frey, who was the lone senior on the 2014 team, agreed.

“Once we won in 2014, Freeport was on the map,” Frey said. “The 2015 team were the favorites, and rightfully so, but 2014 put the program into the conversation permanently.”

The 2014 and 15 title races were held at different courses. Befast hosted the 2014 meet; Cumberland hosted in 2015. Vincent said they practiced differently each season in preparation for the unique challenges presented at the two courses.

“When training for Belfast, we did a lot more tempo based workouts and worked on our strategy more than we normally would,” Vincent explained. “Twin Brooks had a lot more changes in the terrain, so we worked on running more hills and saving our energy for the final home stretch of the race.”

Chandler Vincent played a big role on the Freeport boys country team in 2015. Portland Press Herald file photo

Added Frey: “I loved the Belfast course, I had never run it prior to the state meet. We had several guys set personal records that day, so I think you can definitely attest some of that to the track.”

Berkemeyer also got creative in his coaching, reserving some time every week for the classroom to review strategies and tactics.

“I think the fact that we did our homework as a team helped us on the mental side of the sport,” Vincent said. “It was awesome to have coaches that went the extra mile in doing so, I don’t think many other teams can say they did what we did.”

In the 2014 state meet, the Falcons had five runners place in the top 30. Vincent finished 2nd, Erik Brobst was 8th, Henry Jacques finished 16th, Frey placed 18th, and Liam Gallagher 30th.

“Liam was my seventh runner that season, his placement in the state meet played a huge role in us winning the title,” Berkemeyer said.

The Falcons placed five runners in the top 30, including three in the top six, at the 2015 state meet.

Vincent got over the hump to win, and Jacques finished right behind him in second. Brobst placed sixth, freshman Alex Les finished 19th and sophomore Tom Doyle was 30th.

“Our performance in both of those meets was definitely special, and it’s something I think many people will remember for a long time,” said Vincent.

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