Portland’s boys’ cross country team, which only qualified for states three times between 2008-19, not only qualified Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Center, the Bulldogs finished atop the Class A South heap as its best season in ages continued in sensational fashion.

Portland tallied 99 points to come in first in the region, a dozen points ahead of runner-up South Portland.

Nathan Blades helps Portland’s boys’ cross country team come in first at Saturday’s Class A South regional meet. Blades was 11th individually. John Jensenius / For The Forecaster

The Bulldogs were paced by Nathan Blades, who was 11th individually with a time of 17 minutes, 43.83 seconds. Also scoring for Portland were Daniel Niles (15th, 18:03.79), Miles Fischer (16th, 18:06.96), George Theall (21st, 18:16.44) and Ben Prestes (36th, 18:43.43).

“I knew we were going to be close,” said Portland coach Kevin Woodhouse. “We don’t have a No. 1 runner. Any of three or four guys can be No. 1. We just have an incredibly strong core of guys and that’s what wins.

“(We’re) lucky to have a great core group of runners from all four classes that worked together this season. The team worked hard to promote a positive team atmosphere where all 26 members supported each other.”

Deering (201 points) came in eighth and also qualified. Alexey Seredin led the way with an eighth-place finish (17:25.15). Also scoring for the Rams were Willem van Oosterum (23rd, 18:19.93), Deven Abrams (41st, 18:51.72), Sam Anderson (53rd, 19:10.78) and Max Stratton (76th, 19:50.46). Deering will run at states for the third consecutive season.

Cheverus (356) placed 17th and failed to qualify. The Stags’ top finisher was Ryan Flaherty (31st, 18:33.10).

In the Class A girls’ meet, won by Bonny Eagle with 27 points, Cheverus (124) was fourth and Portland (162) placed sixth as both teams qualified.

The Stags, who qualified for the fifth straight season, were led by Annabelle Brooks, who had the fifth-best time (20:29.74), and Grace Turner, who came in eighth (20:40.85). Leska Whitmarsh was 24th (22:09.8), Aysel Hamlin placed 33rd (23:15.6) and Bo Miller was 54th (24:27.62).

The Bulldogs will run at states for the second straight season and for just the third time this century. They were led by freshman Samantha Moore (sixth, 20:32.29). Also scoring were Tenley Flint (15th, 21:31.67), Greta Holmes (35th, 23:18.33), Ava Chadbourne (49th, 24:56.08) and Ella Sobol (57th, 24:35.71).

Deering’s Megan Cunningham qualified for states as an individual, posting the ninth-best time in Class A South. John Jensenius / For The Forecaster

Deering didn’t score as a team, but Megan Cunningham came in ninth (20:52.26) and qualified as an individual.

In Class C South, Waynflete’s girls had 53 points to come in second to Maranacook (47). The Flyers made it 16 straight seasons qualifying and were led by freshman Skylar Harris (fifth, 22:47.24). Also scoring were Blythe Thompson (eighth, 23:13.43), Vera Shattuck (ninth, 23:21.52), Maeve Mechtenberg (15th, 23:50.76) and Vivi Jenkins (16th, 23:52.57).

In the boys’ meet, won by Maine Coast Waldorf with 53 points, Waynflete (164) came in fifth and qualified for the first time since 2018. The Flyers were led by Sawyer Linehan (16th, 19:26.79). Also scoring were Ben Duda (21st, 19:31.57), Eli Schair-Rigoletti (35th, 20:47.14), Wyatt Adams (44th, 21:26.29) and Miguel Molina Ovalle (48th, 21:38.71).

State schedule

The state meet will be held Saturday in Belfast.

Waynflete’s girls kick things off in the Class C girls’ race at 11 a.m. The Class C boys run at 11:40 a.m.

The Class A girls’ meet starts at 12:20 p.m. The Class A boys’ race is at 1 p.m. Portland hopes to be in the mix for its first state crown since 1978.

“The state meet will be tough,” Woodhouse said. “The teams from the north are very strong, as are the rest of the southern teams, but we ran the Festival of Champions meet (at Belfast) earlier in the year and our runners like the course and are excited to compete.”

Press Herald staff writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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