ELLSWORTH — The Mount Desert Island High School cross-country team has a small contingent, but had considerable success at its first meet, the Ellsworth Invitational Saturday.
The girls’ team finished in third place in team scores, and the boys came in fourth.
“We focused on team development and utilizing team racing tactics to achieve strong performances,” coach Desiree Sirois said. “In each race, a solid pack brought in a large group of runners.”
Senior Alex Eason was the first MDI runner to reach the finish line, which he crossed in 18 minutes, 25.05 seconds in what was his first cross-country race. His time earned him 10th place overall in the field of 77 runners.
Junior Stephen Grierson finished in 19:06.64, becoming the second MDI runner on the day to do so, and sophomore Jon Genrich (23rd) and freshman Jacob Benson (26th) weren’t far behind with times of 19:07.75 and 19:17.16, respectively. Sophomore Ponce Saltysiak (34th), junior Harley Brown (40th) and freshman Wyatt Lawson (66th) rounded out the boys’ runners for the Trojans, whose 85 points placed them fourth of 11 teams behind Hermon, Caribou and Ellsworth.
On the girls’ side, sophomore Olivia Johnson placed sixth for the Trojans with a time of 21:30.77. Rachelle Swanson took 13th with a time of 22:40.79, and fellow junior Katelyn Osborne was one spot behind her with a time of 22:44.10.
Freshman Grace Munger squeezed into the top half for the Trojans by finishing 24th, with a time of 24:06.45. Olivia Watson (27th), Louise Chaplin (30th) and Loren Genrich (35th) finished off the event. The Trojans’ 71 points were enough to finish third behind Orono and Caribou in the six-team field.
MDI might lack the experience some of the competitors possess, but that didn’t seem to faze them in the opening meet. Underclassmen such as Genrich, Benson, Johnson and Munger were some of the team’s strongest performers.
“We have a young team with runners who showed a lot of grit and focus running in their first high school races ever,” Sirois said. “We worked on utilizing strength and power on the hills and learning how to pace and prepare for a 5K race.”
The Trojans will take a break from the high school circuit this week when they host the MDI Cross-Country Trail 5K on Saturday, Sept. 8. Registration costs are $15 for the trail race and $10 for a supplementary kid’s race, and those interested can register on-site at 8:15 a.m. The race begins at 9 a.m.
“We are looking forward to hosting the trail race,” Sirois said. “We are hoping community members will join us to celebrate our sport.”
MDI’s next competitive meet will be the Central Invitational at next Saturday, Sept. 15, in East Corinth. The team will arrive at Central High School at 11 a.m. with the boys’ race beginning at noon and the girls’ race following it at 12:45 p.m.