Karli Leighton of Mt. Ararat begins her race during Wednesday’s KVAC championship at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

FARMINGTON — After brutally cold temperatures and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour swept across the state Tuesday, forcing alpine races to be pushed back to next week, Nordic skiers took to the trails at Titcomb Mountain for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference classic ski race on a warmer Wednesday.

The races were split up by gender, with the boys race starting at 1, and the girls going shortly afterward at 3. It was the first of two races for the Nordic teams, with the skate race scheduled March 10 at Titcomb.

At the end of the day, it was Edward Little holding the lead on the boys side, just edging out Mt. Blue on its home course. The Cougars made up for it on the girls side, holding first place behind three top-5 finishes.

The conditions were inconsistent, with ice patches on one side of the trail and slush on some parts due to recent rain, but Maranacook coach Steve DeAngelis didn’t want to hear any excuses.

“We have skied on all different types of snow,” he said. “I’d be more concerned about the hills if I were skiing.”

For Carson Zundel of Mt. Blue, it was a familiar sight at the course he has been skiing on throughout his high school career.

“It was pretty fast and icy in some places, but honestly today’s conditions were pretty normal to what we are used to here,” said Zundel, who finished third individually in the boys race. “Considering it was our last 5k race of the year, I had a blast.”

Teams competing along with Maranacook and Mt. Blue included Brunswick, Camden Hills, Edward Little, Leavitt, Mt. Ararat, and Oxford Hills.

For the Eagles, it was just their fourth race of the season. For others, it was their ninth, but that didn’t matter to anyone on Wednesday.

“I had a great time today, this is what it’s all about,” said Mt. Ararat’s Anthony Colucci. “I just wish we were able to get some more races in this year, but at the same time we are thankful for each opportunity we get.”

Colucci, along with a handful of other Eagles skiers, took up the sport this season with so much unknown surrounding this years’ indoor track season.

“The competition is what brought me out here to this sport,” added Colucci, who has shown vast improvement as the season has progressed. “If you asked me to do what I did today six weeks ago, there would have been absolutely no way.”

It was just the fifth race of the year for the Dragons, who have had a rocky year in terms of how their schedule played out to say the least.

Claire Holman of Maranacook begins her race to kick off the girls portion of the KVAC championship race at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“This season overall has gone far better than I would have expected, and the skiers are excited and ready to go,” said Brunswick head coach Jessica Marion. “I am very impressed with how flexible and resilient the skiers have been throughout the season.”

The Dragons had raced at Pineland in New Gloucester and Libby Hill in Gray this year, leaving them unfamiliar with the terrain at Titcomb.

“It was tough, there were a lot more hills than any other track I’ve raced on this season,” said Felix Battle of Brunswick. “It’s just great to be at a championship race, the conditions weren’t perfect, but we’ve only had a handful of races this year, so that isn’t at the forefront of my mind.”

Individually, Ellis Slover finished first with a time of 14:58.1, and Ben Condit took second, both of Edward Little. Zundel was third, Max Olmstead of Maranacook finished fourth, and Harrison Bigos-Lowe of Edward Little rounded out the top five.

On the girls side, the same schools were present, save for Oxford Hills. With the track being slightly beaten up from the previous boys’ race, Mt. Ararat head coach Kevin Leighton had to improvise for his four girls.

“We actually re-waxed their skis with a different kind, one that will make it easier for them to stick to the surface,” said Leighton.

Cal Wilby of Brunswick tries to get momentum up a hill during the KVAC classic nordic championship race on Wednesday at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

When it came to the individual results, Emma Charles of Mt. Blue blew the rest of the field away, finishing over a minute faster than anyone else with a time of 16:29.2.

“Today was awesome, I knew I had to go all out today knowing there isn’t going to be a state race,” Charles said. “It kind of brings a sense of normalcy to have a championship race like we had today (Wednesday).”

Following Charles was her teammate, Brynne Roberts, with Jaidyn Negley of Leavitt taking third. Moriah Reusch of Mt. Blue and Sadie Skinner of Mt. Ararat rounded out the top five.

It was again tough for many, with the winding hills that come with the Titcomb course.

Parker Libby of Mt. Ararat kicks off the boys nordic classic ski race at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“It felt like the hills kept on going and going forever,” said Catherine Garcia of Edward Little. “The downhill stretch towards the end was much needed.”

The Eagles had a strong showing, with three of the four girls placing in the top 16. For senior Karli Leighton, it felt fulfilling to race on Wednesday.

“It’s something that I was scared wouldn’t happen after the cross country state meet was canceled in the fall,” said Leighton, who finished 14th individually. “This is what we have been working towards all year and I’m so proud of our whole team.”

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