CUMBERLAND — With a little more than a mile left in the Class B South boys’ cross country championship race, Freeport senior Henry Horne scissored his hands in front of his chest.

His coach, Matt Greear, had just alerted Horne that it was time to put their plan into action – a hard push in the final third of the 5-kilometer race that could threaten the course record at Twin Brook Recreation Area.

Horne abandoned the plan. “I was way too tired,” he said.

The decision proved wise. He remained on the shoulder of defending champion Logan Ouellette of Leavitt until the homestretch, then surged ahead to win in a time of 16 minutes, 40 seconds – eight seconds faster than Ouellette.

Horne’s victory paved the way for Freeport to run away with the team title. The Falcons squeezed five runners among the top 13 to easily outdistance York, 40-97, on a warm and cloudless Saturday afternoon.

Earlier, Portland junior Nathan Blades won the Class A South race in 16:37 to lead the Bulldogs to their second straight regional crown, by 23 points over Scarborough.


In Class C South, Winthrop outdistanced Boothbay/Wiscasset by 12 points, thanks to a 1-2 finish from senior James Cognata (18:02) and junior Chris Pottle (18:08).

The top 30 individuals along with teams finishing in the top half of their meets advanced to next Saturday’s state championship meet, also at Twin Brook. Class A sent nine southern teams to the state meet, while Class B and C each qualified seven.

Freeport is the defending Class B state champion, but the Falcons were second to York in last year’s regional meet.

“The plan wasn’t to go that hard,” Greear said of his team’s dominant victory. “But having last week off (because rain forced cancellation of the Western Maine Conference championships), they were kind of itching to run. They all did great.”

Juniors Will Spaulding (fifth) and Teo Steverlynck-Horne (ninth), freshman Alex Gilbert (12th) and sophomore Connor Smith (13th) completed Freeport’s scoring quintet before any of the other six state-qualifying teams (York, Lincoln Academy, Cape Elizabeth, Lake Region, Morse and Greely) managed to get three runners across the line.

“The strategy was just run and not sweat position too much,” Horne said. “Just run and get a feel for the course so we’re ready for next week. I think our team is really strong this year.”


Ouellette set a fast pace, powering up hills and nearly pulling away on downslopes for much of the first two miles. But he couldn’t shake Horne.

“I wasn’t sure Henry was going to be able to run those hills like I could,” Ouellette said. “I think it was a smart move to be ahead, but I think he pushed my race. It’s strategy and psychology. With me being in front, I was pressured by Henry to go faster and hold that pace, and he was able to conserve (energy) to get that very last push in the end and really high-tail it away.”

In the Class A race, Blades made his move in the second mile and looked smooth throughout the race. He opted for running sneakers instead of spikes, a decision that saved wear and tear while on the rock-strewn paths in the woods but led him to take a spill on the grass during the course’s final sharp turn.

“I just stepped wrong and went sideways, but I was able to bounce back up,” he said. “I knew I had a decent lead, but it sort of jumpstarted my system: Omigosh, go-go-go!”

Noble junior Maddox Jordan was second in 16:45, with Scarborough senior Adam Bendetson another six seconds back. Bonny Eagle, South Portland, Kennebunk, Falmouth, Deering, Windham and Gorham will join Portland and Scarborough at the state meet.

Juniors Ben Prestes (sixth) and Jason Hargesheimer (16th), senior Daniel Niles and sophomore Aran Johnson completed Portland’s scoring.

“We had sickness (flu and colds) go through our entire team, so we were just happy to get through and race as hard as we could,” said Portland Coach Kevin Woodhouse. “We’re lucky to have 10 really strong guys.”

In Class C, Richmond, Waynflete, Maine Coast Waldorf, Old Orchard Beach and Lisbon also qualified for the state meet. Cognata and Mt. Abram senior Jeffrey Warnock set the early pace before Cognata edged ahead in the woods.

“In those blind curves, I would put in five hard steps to try and get a little distance without him seeing me,” Cognata said. “Just a little psychological stuff.”

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