BELFAST — Ruth White didn’t just break her own course and meet record at the 22nd Festival of Champions on Saturday afternoon, she smashed it.

White, a senior at Orono High School, won her third straight Festival title at Troy Howard Middle School, winning with a time of 16:56.92. It beats her previous record — 17:27.15 — by 29.77 seconds.

“It feels really good (to win),” White said. “It was really fun to come out and get back in this race. It’s a really fun environment. There’s a lot of energy, they put out a really good course.

“I wasn’t sure (about breaking 17 minutes),” White continued. “I knew it was going to be a good, competitive race. It was really fast. I think there were three girls under 18 (minutes).”

The race — which includes high school teams throughout New England and the Canadian Maritimes — involved nearly 2,000 runners, the third-highest in its history, which dates back to 2002.

White wasn’t alone in breaking the previous record. Houlton’s Teanne Ewings, a junior, finished second with a time of 17:15.47.


“Going into this race, I was a little sick, but that’s alright,” Ewings said. “I was really just hoping to break 18 (minutes). (White) helped me stay accountable every time I could see her (on the course), and where I couldn’t see her, I knew I had to just keep going until I could find another spot where I could, like a straightaway.”

“I think it was the level of competition that pushed me, and Teanne was there with me all the way,” White said. “I give her a lot of credit, she ran a really strong race.”

Lawrence’s Paige Goodwin finished in 21:40.33 during the Festival of Champions on Saturday in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

York senior Cary Drake was third in 17:56.67. Portland’s Samantha Moore (18:02.95) and Maine Coast’s Soren Stark-Chessa (18:11.35) rounded out the top five.

“I’m super happy (with the finish), I’m still recovering a little bit,” Drake said. “I didn’t really make it my goal to run under 18, but I’m very happy it worked out. I knew a couple of the girls in front of me like Teanne and Ruth, obviously, Brooke Strauss (of Glastonbury) and Sam Moore. I just wanted to hang with them as long as I could.”

White jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, kicking well ahead of the competition under mild temperatures and a dry course. As she has in years past, White crossed the finish without looking fatigued at all, shaking hands and passing out cups of water to fellow competitors, before heading back out on the course to cheer on her teammates.

“The running community is really great,” White said. “It’s just fun to be a part of it and to meet new people, young and old, people from different states and Canada. Everyone is just really nice.”


The boys race proved the tighter competition. Matthew Giardina, a junior at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, New Hampshire, won with a time of 15:27.17. He managed to hold off Noble senior Maddox Jordan, who was second at 15:30.50.

“I really wanted to just preview the course,” Giardina said. “We came up here because (the New England championships) are going to be up here. I just wanted to get a fast time and check out the course. It was good, there was a lot of tight turns that made it tough, but it was a good course.”

Winthrop’s Christopher Pottle finished 30th with a 16:39.54 during the Festival of Champions on Saturday in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“(The race) was a really good preview for New Englands, and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Jordan said. “But it was nice to see where I was at with competition around.”

Jordan managed to fight through a nagging groin injury in order to finish second.

“It started in the summer and I’ve just been trying to fight through it,” Jordan said. “It’s getting better. It really started to hurt at mile two, and I was close to dropping out a few times, because of how bad it hurt, but I was so far in, I might as well finish it.”

Jack Mattingly of E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Connecticut was third (15:32.31), while Jacob Redman of Bedford High School (N.H) was fourth (15:43.35) and Nathan Blades of Portland (15:43.53) was fifth.

Cumberland (R.I.) High School (147 points) managed to upend two-time defending champion Bonny Eagle for the girls team title. The Scots (170 points), finished second, while Camden Hills (215) was third. Senior Addy Thibodeau (18:39.67) finished in sixth place and was Bonny Eagle’s top runner.

E.O. Smith (95 points) won the boys title, followed by Portland (184 points) and Bedford (258 points).

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