Saturday October 01, 2011 | 09:13 PM

The Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions was undoubtedly the best attended high school event of the weekend at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Between runners and spectators there were well over 4,000 people in attendance despite a steady mist which alternated with light rain.

The Festival attracted 60 high schools including four from out of state and provided the best competition Maine has to offer. Just as important, it celebrated a sport which receives little fanfare. It’s fun to see teams from schools you might never otherwise see compete on a big stage and the pride they take in wearing their school colors.

The brainchild of Brewer coach Glendon Rand and Belfast coach Joanne Nealey, the Festival is now in its 10th year. There are six races in all, three for boys and three for girls, but they’re eventually combined into one.

“It’s a lot of work,” Rand said. “Obviously computers are a big help and automatic timing systems. We couldn’t do a race where we combine three races into one without automatic timing.”

Rand and Nealey operated with a core group of five or six with help from the Belfast school department in preparing the course. In the seeded races, Rand introduced each team — there were 50 boys teams — and mentioned some of the top runners and their career highlights.

Runners tell you it’s a good mid-season gauge of their progress, but a win here is as big as any in the state considering the competition. Matt McClintock, the Class C state champ, repeated his Festival title as did Class A phenom Abbey Leonardi who is ranked eighth in the country.

“It’s great to get out and race all my friends, Class A and Class B runners I never get to run against,” McClintock said.

The Mount Desert Island girls should be strong for the next three years. They finished first Saturday with four sophomores and a freshman. Runner-up Camden Hills will also contend for awhile. The Windjammers had two sophomores, three freshmen and a junior among their top six.

Cumberland, R.I., which placed third overall among the boys, has competed at the Festival since its inception while runner-up J.H. Gillis High of Antigonish, Nova Scotia returned Saturday for the third year in a row.


 

About the Author

Travis Lazarczyk has worked at the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal since 2000. He covers football, basketball and baseball. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/tlazarmaine

Previous entries

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

More

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)
Prefer to respond privately? Email us here.