ELLSWORTH – A beautiful, sunny day on Sept. 3 saw the start of the cross-country season on the hilly course at Ellsworth High School.
Runners from about a dozen schools gathered to compete in the Ellsworth Invitational at both a JV and varsity level.
Bucksport’s Will Hileman led the way on the boys’ side, finishing the 5K with a time of 15:44.64. The sub-16 time was a personal record for the junior, who also won the race on this course last year, according to coach Chris Jones.
“As a coach, I think [Hileman] will PR at every single race,” Jones predicted. “He put in some heavy mileage over the summer with weeks of around 50 miles … Every year we’ve continued to increase his mileage.”
Hileman is continuing to build on a successful high school career so far, having run his way into the postseason in both his freshman and sophomore year.
In terms of team success, Bucksport was unable to capitalize on Hileman’s first place finish and fell to nine out of 11 qualifying teams. Team scores are calculated by adding together the finishing positions of each school’s top five runners. Sumner Memorial High School finished just ahead of the Golden Bucks at eight. Mount Desert Island, George Stevens Academy and Ellsworth all landed in the top five, finishing second, third and fourth, respectively.
Deer Isle-Stonington High School did not have enough runners to qualify for the team results, but junior Owen Staples finished with a time of 25:31.07.
On the girls’ side, the competition was dominated by Orono High School, which saw all five of the team’s runners finish in the top ten. That included another first-place finish by the fleet-footed phenom Ruth White. Hot on her heels, however, was the senior from GSA, Thea Crowley, who finished with a time of 19:02.46.
“It was really fun, I enjoyed it a lot,” Crowley said of her first race this season. “I’d like to just get a really good base down before the larger meets, the championship meets, and then really excel in those.”
MDI’s Amelia Vandongen and Ellsworth’s Addison Nelson also finished in the top five. The Trojans again finished in second place, enjoying tremendous team success at both the varsity and JV levels.
“I feel with the positive energy we have, the sense of team we have created, and the work we display at practices and meets, we are poised to reach our potential,” said longtime coach Desiree Sirois.
Isaac Vaccaro, GSA’s track coach who is in his first season as the school’s cross-country coach, echoed a sentiment expressed by many coaches on the day concerning the results of this first race.
“We want to build slowly because cross-country is such a long season, it’s like ten meets,” said Vaccaro. “We had no expectations today other than to have a good relationship with racing, that was the goal.”