Morse’s Riley Harper, left, and Waterville’s Andrew Turlo race during the LaLiberte Invitational cross country meet on Aug. 27 at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

High school cross country teams are embracing a return to some normalcy after the state championship meets were canceled last fall because of coronavirus safety concerns.

“Everyone is definitely ready for a more normal season,” said third-year Morse head coach Brent Luchies.

Added Mt. Ararat head coach Diane Fournier: “It’s exciting to be able to do the simple things that we couldn’t do last season. We had our parent meeting, and have been able to hold other similar events.”

Unlike last season, runners will not be required to wear masks during races. It’s a change some see as a relief.

“We don’t have to run with masks and our athletes have become accustomed to distancing from one another,” said Fournier.

Fournier, who says the Eagles should have around 30 runners, enters her 41st high school cross country season. The Eagles will be led by Grady Satterfield, who is one of the top runners on the Midcoast. Morse will be led by top runners Audrey Crews and Iris Hennis.


In Brunswick, the boys cross country team will look different than it did last fall.

Mt. Ararat’s Grady Satterfield races during the LaLiberte Invitational cross country meet on Aug. 27, in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“With so many new young runners we have been focusing on building a running base safely and properly,” said Brunswick boys head coach Dan Dearing. “It’s easy to overlook the basics when races begin basically after very little training has occurred. We hope to be at our best when championship races begin.”

The Dragons will look to seniors Felix Battle, Dolan Pols and Joey Valliere to lead the team. Eli Palmer and Miles Logan should also make an impact.

The girls, however, return five of their top seven runners.

“We have a wide variety of talent up and down our roster,” said girls head coach Heather Hoisington. “Our experience should be big for us.”

Hoisington’s five returners include senior Lily Hatrick; juniors Abby Valliere, Hannah Wilkoff, and Zoe Wilson; and sophomore Maddie Kallin.


Lisbon head coach Jeremy Williams thinks his team — which has just eight runners total — could contend for a Mountain Valley Conference title.

Runners cross a field at the start of the LaLiberte Invitational cross country meet on Aug. 27 at in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“The boys’ team is looking strong with the commitment they have and the experience that they bring,” said Williams, who has six boys and two girls on his roster this season. “They had a very successful spring season and have brought that motivation and energy to the fall.”

Hunter Burkhardt, Darien Davis and Wyatt Perron will lead the Greyhounds. Seniors Acadia Rugullies and Abby Lucas are the lone girls to compete for Lisbon.

Freeport coach Brian Berkemeyer said he hopes the team’s depth will be its strength.

“Both the boys and the girls teams have a solid first five; we’re hoping to make that a solid first seven or more,” said Berkemeyer. “I always say, you don’t know how fast you can run, and neither do I.”

Berkemeyer added he expects junior Jillian Wright to contend for a state title, with fellow classmate Ellie Battarbee also in the mix.


Lisbon’s Hunter Burkhardt, left, runs out of the woods during the Mountain Valley Conference championship meet last season in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Some schools have already competed in some preseason meets. Morse, for example, went to Augusta for the annual Laliberte Invitational.

“It was pretty awesome to see a full field meet after how last year went,” said Luchies. “We’re looking forward to more races like this in the weeks ahead.”

Now, with regular season meets looming, Midcoast teams will ramp up intensity with the goal of peaking later in the fall.

“Tomorrow is never guaranteed, do what you can today, we learned that last year,” said Hoisington. “The kids took it in stride, but we are very excited for the opportunity to compete this season.”

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