CUMBERLAND — Portland High last won a cross country state title in 1978. On Saturday, the Bulldogs showed they are eager to end that drought.

Led by senior Nathan Blades and ignoring a steady rain that managed to avoid most of the day’s previous five races, Portland gobbled up nearly a third of the top placements in the Class A South boys’ race at Twin Brook Recreation Area.

The Bulldogs crammed all seven of their runners among the first 22 finishers in a deep field of 118.

“Our guys spent a lot of time out here in the summer,” said Portland Coach Frank Myatt. “They came out here on their own. They’re as solid a group as I’ve ever coached.”

But why spend all that time on Twin Brook’s hilly course when next Saturday’s state meet – as well as the New England meet in November –will be contested over much flatter terrain in Belfast?

Proximity, Myatt explained. Plus, being in the city, “we can’t just hit the trails for four or five miles anytime we want. So coming up here, it ingrains a culture of appreciating this course for what it is, and learning to race on a difficult course.”


Blades successfully defended his regional title by holding off classmate Maddox Jordan of Noble in a time of 16 minutes, 32.98 seconds. Jordan was five seconds behind, a similar result last October, but a reversal of the Festival of Champions finish last month, when Jordan bested Blades by 13 seconds in Belfast.

“Since the winter of my sophomore year,” Blades said, “we’ve been going back and forth, back and forth.”

Joining Blades in scoring for Portland were classmates Ben Prestes (sixth) and Elias Coleman (ninth), junior Aran Johnson (12th) and sophomore Owen Blades (16th). The Bulldogs finished with 44 points to Bonny Eagle’s 77. The Scots were the only team to put a fourth runner ahead of Portland’s sixth (junior Charlie Jacques) and seventh (senior Asa Winter).

Competing in the Southern Maine Activities Association, Portland usually runs on flatter courses than Twin Brook.

“This is a different beast,” Portland’s Myatt said, “and a beast that our guys tamed (Saturday).”

Also qualifying for next Saturday’s state meet were Scarborough (96), Marshwood (197), Cheverus (198), Deering (200), South Portland (204), Gorham (214) and Falmouth (237).


The Class B race featured the day’s fastest individual performance. Lake Region junior Sam Laverdiere – despite a fall late in the race – finished in 16:29.36 to hold off Freeport sophomore Alex Gilbert by three seconds.

Laverdiere said he would not be denied a regional title. He opened a gap on the field with a 5:05 opening mile and glanced back only in the homestretch after he had slipped and fallen on a hairpin turn.

“I worked hard for it,” he said. “I basically said on the starting line, they’re going to have to bleed to beat me.”

York junior Aidan Ring (16:46) and Freeport senior Will Spaulding (16:58) also broke 17 minutes. Defending state champion Carter Libby of Gray-New Gloucester was fifth in 17:15.

Two-time defending Class B state champion Freeport won team honors by 10 points over York, 52-62. Gray-New Gloucester (108) was third, followed by fellow state qualifiers Lake Region (129), Greely (145), Lincoln Academy (163) and Yarmouth (163).

Besides Gilbert and Spaulding, Freeport scored with juniors Conner Smith (10th) and Owen Dawson (24th) and senior Teo Steverlynck-Horne (15th).


“It means a lot,” Gilbert said of the regional crown. “I’m so proud the team was able to go out strong and go back-to-back for regional titles.”

In Class C, senior Chris Pottle led a dominant performance by defending regional champion Winthrop. The Ramblers placed five runners among the top 25 for a 59-point total that was less than half that of runner-up Waynflete (121).

Pottle earned individual honors with a 17:36 clocking that left him far ahead of Waynflete junior Pi Crosby (18:19). Carrabec junior Desmond Robinson was third in 18:23.

“This was mainly going to be just a chill meet, trying to take care of business,” Pottle said. “Go out slow, stay with the pack and practice my kick at the end.”

Pottle said he didn’t notice the sprinkles that would later turn to steady rain for the concluding Class A race.

“Some of the spots, especially when you get out of the woods, it was pretty mushy,” he said. “But inside, as long as you took some of the sharp turns a little wider, it was pretty good. A true cross country course, that’s for sure.”

Joining Winthrop and Waynflete as Class C state meet qualifiers were Boothbay/Wiscasset (125), Lisbon (142), Old Orchard Beach (145), Maranacook (186) and Maine Coast Waldorf (186).

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