The Winthrop boys cross country team celebrates its Mountain Valley Conference championship on Saturday in Augusta. Dave Bailey/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The official nickname is the Ramblers, but Racers or Speedsters might be a more fitting moniker for the Winthrop cross country team.

Haley Williams won her second straight girls title and Chris Pottle captured the boys crown as the Ramblers swept the individual honors at Saturday’s Mountain Valley Conference championships at the University of Maine at Augusta’s Elvin Fields.

Winthrop also took the boys team title with 61 points, 25 ahead of runner-up Boothbay/Wiscasset. B/W won the girls title with 44 points, 22 ahead of runner-up Maranacook.

Williams raced to the girls title in 21:14.4, 1:14.5 ahead of Madison’s Leah Harper. While the senior was pleased to complete the 3.1-mile course in decisive fashion, she also wasn’t accustomed to not having any rivals nearby.

“I was expecting more girls to be running with me,” said Williams, who plans to run in college but has yet to finalize on a school. “I was surprised to be by myself quicker in this race than I thought I was going to be.

“Everyone here in this cross country environment is just so fun to be around. I love being in this sport, I love being with my team, and I’m just very excited.”


Winthrop’s girls finished fourth as a team with 93 points.

Pottle also won running away in 17:40.5, 1:11.9 ahead of Carrabec’s Desmond Robinson. And like Williams, Pottle said he wasn’t used to running alone.

“It was kinda hard to run by yourself always, because you don’t have anyone to push yourself,” said the senior, who ran in bright pink sneakers and accepted the first-place plaque while wearing oversized fuzzy blue lobster headgear. “One of the things I like to do best is to have someone to chase that’s in front of me, and it’s just a lot harder to keep the pace.”

Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel was pleased with his team’s effort, but he knows this is only the beginning of the Ramblers’ postseason journey. The Class C South regionals are next week in Cumberland.

“They’ll certainly have some company in the next couple weeks,” Van Tassel said of his champs.

“All week, and really all season, we kind of focus on controlling what we can control, so they had the race plans, and they kinda know, just from the work that we’ve done, what things should feel like, so they just went out and executed their plan.”


Grace Drown (fifth, 23:19.5) joined Williams in earning all-MVC first-team girls honors. Runners in first through seventh places make the first team; eighth through 14th make the second team.

Madison’s Bryanna Hagopian was third in 22:24.1 to cap a successful day for the Bulldogs, whose girls finished third as a team with 85 points.

“They’ve been working really hard all season,” Madison coach Lee Harper said. “We’ve got five girls for a team; that’s the first time we’ve enough for a team in a few years. They’ve been faithful to their workouts on the weekend, so we’re real proud of them.”

The Maranacook girls cross country team celebrates its second-place finish at the Mountain Valley Conference championships Saturday in Augusta. Dave Bailey/Kennebec Journal

Lilly Mushlit (ninth, 23:56.2), Elsa Bergdal (11th, 24:06.7) and Olympia Farrell (12th, 24:24.8) were part of a balanced attack for the second-place Maranacook girls.

“We had a really good day,” Black Bears coach Kelsey Barrett said. “We knew that Boothway was going to be strong competition today, but we fought hard. We had three girls finish in the top 14, so I think that’s something to be proud of.

“The hard work’s paying off. They all had goal-mile times that we set, and most all of them hit those mile times. We’ve been working really hard on finishing the race strong, and they all came in super-strong.”


Laura Chapman (fourth, 23:16.1), Julia Truesdell (seventh, 23:20.5) and Karen Higgins (eighth, 23:52.3) paced Boothbay/Wiscasset, which placed six runners in the top 15 and whose athletes could be seen doing the Macarena in celebration afterward.

On the boys side, Winthrop’s Bennett Ross (sixth, 19:36.5) joined Pottle on the all-MVC first-team, while teammate Jonathan Wagner (13th, 20:18.9) ran to a second-team nod. Maranacook’s Silas Bartol was third (18:59.0), followed by Richmond’s Ben Fournier (fourth, 19:01). Rodi Mayne (ninth, 19:40.8) was Boothbay/Wiscasset’s top finisher.

The weather cool and breezy, and coaches praised the course conditions despite the occasional muddy spot.

“UMA did a great job. The course was in phenomenal shape,” Van Tassel said. “This course has a great history — it used to be the state championship course — so we’re definitely lucky as a conference that we get to do our championship run here every year.”

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