BELFAST — After his team lost to York by 33 points in the Southern Maine regionals last week, Freeport cross country coach Brian Berkemeyer reached into his bag of motivation and dusted off the story of the 2014 state championship team.

“No one thought we could win,” Berkemeyer told his boys at a team meeting on Tuesday. “But every kid PR’d that day.”

By PR, Berkemeyer meant every runner ran his personal record at the biggest meet of the year. Then he delivered the kicker. This year’s team, he said, is faster than those 2014 state champs. He even pulled out the times to show them.

On Saturday, his Falcons delivered. In the sixth and final championship race over a course made muddy by hundreds of spikes and hours of persistent rain, Freeport won the Class B title by putting six runners across the finish line before any other team’s fourth runner.

“I thought we gave it our all last week because we’d been training hard all season and we really wanted to win regionals because we weren’t sure if we had a chance at states,” said Freeport junior Henry Horne, who led the way in eighth place. “But (Saturday), I guess everybody just realized this is what really mattered.”

Sophomore William Spaulding (13th), junior Jack DiRusso (26th), senior Sam Robinson (27th) and junior Alexander Dawson (32) all averaged below six minutes per mile.

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Freeport finished with 86 points to  York’s 114. Cape Elizabeth was third (131) and Greely of Cumberland fourth (144) among 13 schools.

“We weren’t really expecting it, but there was a little thought in the back of our minds,” Robinson said. “It feels amazing to win this.”

Freeport wasn’t the only regional runner-up to win big on Saturday. Hampden Academy cruised to a decisive victory in Class A over Bangor, 69-115, with Northern Maine champion Brunswick third at 117 and Southern Maine champion Portland fourth at 143.

All four Class A schools joined Freeport and Class C champion Orono in qualifying for the New England championships, scheduled for Nov. 13 in Thetford, Vermont. Individuals with the 25 fastest times also qualified, with the cutoff at 17 minutes, 15.94 seconds.

Rain fell throughout the Class C and A races but stopped shortly before the B boys began. By then, the course was a mess. Connor Daigle, a senior from Medomak Valley who won the Class B race in 16:35, said he fell six times on his 5-kilometer journey over the relatively flat grounds of Troy Howard Middle School.

“It was awful,” Daigle said. “I can’t even describe how awful the course was. It was kind of like a battlefield. World War II stuff. It was a nightmare.”

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Daigle said he made the mistake of wearing only eighth-inch spikes instead of the longer spike such as the half-inch version worn by Horne.

“Even with those, I was losing grip a lot,” Horne said. “It was really slippery.”

Such unfavorable conditions made the winning Class A time from Hampden senior Abbott Valentine (15:34) seem even more impressive. Valentine held off Bangor senior Daniel McCarthy by one second to reverse last week’s regional outcome. Another 25 seconds elapsed before Mt. Ararat senior Grady Satterfield crossed the line in 16:00.

Satterfield pushed the early pace and led for much of the second mile before Valentine took over.

“It was really looking like his race,” Valentine said of Satterfield. “I know he’s been training to break 15 minutes and he really pushed for it, but it just wasn’t the day. It was too much of a mess out there and nobody could really get anything done.”

Monmouth Academy junior Brosnan Comeau also pulled away late to win Class C individual honors in 16:43 over William Hileman of Bucksport (16:49). Senior Kyle McClellan was third to lead Orono to an 11-point victory over George Stevens. Maine Coast Waldorf of Freeport was third and Boothbay/Wiscasset was fourth.


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